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Getting back to face-to-face


The Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce wrapped another edition of Las Cruces Days in Santa Fe, the usually annual event that was interrupted the last two years by the pandemic.

But there’s nothing like face-to-face visits, especially with the legislators who are tasked with distributing taxpayer money.

At one of the events, State Sen. Joseph Cervantes made a pertinent observation during some remarks he made to the crowd.

 “I may be one of only two Democrats left who own a business in Las Cruces,” Cervantes said. He said it with a smile and, of course, it was an exaggeration, but it did point out somewhat of a disconnect between Santa Fe and the Las Cruces business community.

Democrats handily control both the state House and the state Senate. We have a Democrat governor and almost exclusively Democrats in cabinet positions and other important roles of power in state government.

Increasingly, those Democrats are leaning more left, deemed by the common term “progressives.” While there are still some more centrist, conservative Democrats in the state, the progressives have mounted several successful challenges in recent years to the old guard.

To Cervantes’ point, a high percentage of business owners in New Mexico, and certainly in Las Cruces, are Republicans.

Knowing they have the power – meaning the votes – to pass pretty much anything they would like, will those Democrats listen to the concerns of Republican business owners, or the concerns of anyone politically right of them?

Sure, some won’t, but that’s the whole point of events like this. Citizens of all backgrounds and political stripes can meet in an informal setting with their legislators, and let them know their concerns.

Several of our legislators saw presentations from the City of Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, New Mexico State University and Las Cruces Public Schools. It’s important those legislators see the requests and the needs of those vital entities in our community. But it’s also important for regular citizens to see those needs and concerns.

Yes, there is a record amount of money in New Mexico’s state budget this year, but it’s still a finite amount. When you see the price tags of the projects being requested by the city, the county, the university and the school district, it’s staggering. Much of it will not be addressed simply because the money won’t stretch that far. And many of the needs are very basic: fixing crumbling roads and providing public safety. So, in some ways, this will be a more difficult session than one where there’s no money to go around.

I know we all got used to Zoom during the pandemic, and we all text and email all the time.

But there’s nothing like face-to-face visits, and Las Cruces Days in Santa Fe offer visits you can’t find anywhere else.