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Las Cruces City Councilor Runs For Congress With Progressive Agenda

Sep 29, 2021

Credit Gabe Vasquez

The 2022 midterm election is fast approaching and many are wondering how the results will affect their lives. With issues such as immigration, climate change, and the economy weighing heavily on voters, Las Cruces Councilman Gabe Vasquez is running for the Democratic nomination in New Mexico’s second Congressional District. 

“I decided to run for Congress because I believe that this district needs better. Housing is being increasingly unaffordable for the average family, the middle class is in decline, folks can’t afford health insurance, we are seeing the effects of climate change ravaging entire communities, and I see a strong need for comprehensive immigration reform that congress has not been able to get done for many, many years,” Vasquez said. 

Being a first-generation American, Vasquez credits his grandfather and mother for allowing him to follow his version of the American Dream.

“That opportunity is something that I take very seriously that weighs heavy on me. Every day that I wake up and when I go to sleep I have a desire to do better for my community, to return the favor that I was given. For my family, the United States was our future so I want to make sure this opportunity exists not just for Americans today but also for immigrants,” Vasquez said. 

Seeing the success of the border first hand, Vasquez says he wants to promote collaboration between the United States and Mexico.

“The US-Mexico border in this district brings tremendous benefits not just to New Mexico but to the entire country.  The border creates jobs, the border encourages positive friendly US-Mexico relations and the border represents the cross-cultural relationship that we have,” Vasquez said. 

In 2019, the Santa Teresa port of entry ranked in the top ten for most goods entering into the United States. This means Santa Teresa has a vital role in the local, state and even national economy. [1]

But border business is not the only topic on people's minds. According to the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of all voters say climate change is very important to their vote. Vasquez says there are already some good ideas out there on how to counter climate change. [2]

“We are in a tremendous climate crisis right now that we have never seen before largely by our own doing by releasing carbon and fossil fuels into the air for an extended period of time. We have to champion a whole bunch of different policies to really mitigate the impacts of climate change. The electrification of residential development, the electrification of commercial and municipal developments so that we are limiting the effects of natural gas and other fossil fuels and carbon based fuels and replacing them with electric,” Vasquez said.   

One major hurdle that Vasquez and these policies may face is the oil in gas industry in New Mexico. 25 percent of New Mexico's general fund revenue can be attributed to the oil and gas industry. The industry also directly employs more than 11,000 New Mexico citizens making it one of the largest employers in the state. [3]

“We also have to make sure we lay down a path to transition into renewable energy. And that means in places like the Permian Basin where the economy is strongly dominated by fossil fuel extraction, that we prepare the workforce for transition into a renewable energy industry. Now that doesn’t mean next year, that doesn't mean in five or ten years...but we have to be much smarter on how this industry operates,” Vasquez said.   

There is no doubt that a transition into renewable energy will take time, but voters are also worried about the effects on the economy. Currently, the United States national debt is nearing a staggering 29 trillion dollars. [4]

“When we talk about lowering the debt ceiling, we have to start thinking about a smart tax policy that really lifts up the middle class. The top corporations in this country that are paying zero in taxes that are using existing loopholes in the tax code to essentially make away like bandits with millions of our taxpayer dollars. I will say that Republicans were perfectly fine increasing the debt ceiling when it was a tax cut for the rich but they are not supportive when we, the democrats want to champion social programs that help lift up the middle class,” Vasquez said. 

With New Mexico's second Congressional district being one of the geographically largest in the country, Vasquez says that he looks forward to the challenge.

“The census numbers just came out and Dona Ana county in particular is over 67 percent Hispanic. We are the largest Hispanic state per capita in the country and as you mentioned we are a melting pot of communities. Congressional district two includes, currently, both Native American communities, Zuni, Laguna Pueblo, as well as very rural communities. It is what makes this district beautiful, it’s why we are called the land of enchantment,” Vasquez said.   

As for right now, Vasquez’s campaign is focusing on fundraising events as well as attending local protests and demonstrations.

“It takes money to run a Congressional campaign. In fact, this was one of if not the most expensive house race in the last congressional cycle. That’s not lost on me. We also live in the second poorest state in the country. It really requires everybody to chip in, it requires individuals to really believe in the vision that you offer as a candidate,” Vasquez said.   

New Mexico's second Congressional district is expected to be one of the most competitive in the nation next year. With all eyes on southern New Mexico, Gabe Vasquez will be at the center of attention.

https://www.utep.edu/hunt-institute/newsletter/_Files/docs/Hunt_Institute_Report_February_2021.pdf

https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/10/06/how-important-is-climate-change-to-voters-in-the-2020-election/

https://geoinfo.nmt.edu/resources/petroleum/home.cfml

https://www.usdebtclock.org/index.html