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LAS CRUCES - Robert Palacios is a young candidate who is part of an old family.
Palacios, 29, is running for the District 4 seat on the Las Cruces City Council. He is is a fourth-generation Las Crucen whose great uncle is former city councilor and mayor pro-tem Henry Benavidez. (Palacios’ father is a retired Las Cruces police officer and his 93-year-old grandfather continues to run a ranch in Springer, New Mexico.)
“The more I get involved, the more I see a need for a young voice,” said Palacios, adding that he will be a full-time councilor if elected and will focus “totally on Las Cruces and what directly effects our constituents.” Palacios said he also wants to provide a “bigger voice for Hispanic culture and arts in our community.”
Incumbent District 4 Councilor Jack Eakman, who served one four-year term, is not seeking re-election.
Palacios is challenged in the District 4 race by Johana Bencomo and Antoinette Reyes.
Palacios said he sees numerous important issues the city council needs to address, including economic development and job creation. Nearly a quarter of Las Cruces residents live in poverty, Palacios said, and there is a need to create good jobs for residents, especially so NMSU graduates don’t have to move elsewhere to find gainful employment.
Continuing to develop the local film industry also is “a great opportunity for Las Cruces,” he said. “Our area has a lot to offer.” Growing the local economy also means “you’ve got to support small business,” Palacios said. That includes streamlining the process for opening a new business to get everything done as quickly and safely as possible to get the doors open. Palacios said he is also an advocate for more city-run programs and workshops focused on starting a business and job creation.
Palacios said the council needs to do a better job of communicating with residents. “The council’s not doing its best at listening,” he said. One solution would be to move council meetings from afternoons to evenings so more people could attend and “at least be heard.”
City council also needs to be a “stronger voice for education,” Palacios said. He wants trade-school electives like electrical, plumbing and HVAC built into high school curriculums, Palacios said, because “four-year college is not the fit-all answer to being educated.”
Palacios also wants the city to grow the West Mesa industrial park and Las Cruces Airport.
“We need to do a lot with District 4,” Palacios said. “I think there’s great opportunity in District 4.”
Palacios is a 2008 graduate of Mayfield High School. He completed the master recording program at the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences in Tempe, Arizona, and returned to Las Cruces to pursue a degree in music business at NMSU. Palacios served more than six years with the New Mexico Army National Guard and was a member of the Leadership Las Cruces class of 2016.
With a passion for music and radio, Palacios has worked at Bravo Mic Communications, KRUX 91.5FM and KRWG Public Media, and opened his own small business, the Las Cruces Mariachi Conservatory, in 2016, turning it over to the New Mexico Advocates for the Arts (NMAA) last November, according to his campaign announcement.
Palacios serves as the volunteer executive director of NMAA, is a member of Los Amigos (ambassadors) of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and serves on the governing council for La Academia Dolores Huerta charter middle school. He is a former member of the Greater Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce Conquistadores and big brother with the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Las Cruces. Palacios also served on the executive leadership team of the local 2018 March of Dimes March for Babies.
Making his first bid for public office, Palacios said the most rewarding part of his campaign is “sitting down with the community members and listening.”
Mike Cook may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.