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Mesilla mayor undecided on re-election bid


Nora Barraza has not yet decided if she will run for a fourth four-year term as mayor of the Town of Mesilla.

Barraza served eight years on the Mesilla Board of Trustees before being elected mayor in 2010. She was re-elected in 2014 and 2018. The 2023 town election will be Tuesday, Nov. 7.

Barraza said her most important accomplishment during her 12 years as mayor has been addressing the town’s infrastructure needs, including water and sewer lines and roads, along with water wells and park improvements. Barraza said the town’s community center and public safety building have undergone renovations and there have been upgrades to the historic Mesilla Plaza “kiosko.” Calle del Norte Trail and streetlighting during her tenure as mayor.

“We’ve done a lot,” Barraza said.

“It’s not about me,” the mayor said. “It’s about us working together as a team.”

Town improvements going forward will include major renovations on the west end of University Avenue that lies in Mesilla – the town is working with the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) on that project.

The multi-million-dollar project will create “a safer environment” for students walking and biking to Zia Middle School (which Barraza attended), she said, and will also make the school safer for parents picking up their children at the school.

That is an initiative Barraza said she is working on with Las Cruces Public Schools (LCPS), for whom she worked for 30 years as a secretary before retiring in 2003.

“We're working on pedestrian and bike safety at Zia with the new NMDOT infrastructure project that will be going in next year on University Avenue,” said LCPS Safe Routes t Schools Coordinator, Ashleigh Curry. LCPS has one of the most successful SRTS program in the United States. It began at Mesilla Elementary School.

Barraza’s success as mayor, she said, is “all about working with the people in the community.”

The town is joining others around the state in upgrading its police and fire radio communications systems from analog to digital, Barraza said. That likely will cost about $500,000.

Barraza said she has already made two trips to Santa Fe during the 2023 legislative session to meet with legislators to seek support for the upgrade and other town capital improvements, including drainage improvements, sewer system and manhole rehabilitation, purchasing a street sweeper, road improvements, drilling a new well and buying a new vehicle for the Mesilla Marshal’s Office.

Doña Ana County legislators “are very supportive,” Barraza said.

Mesilla has faced recent staffing challenges, Barraza said, during which she lent a hand with community development and in the town clerk’s office.

“Whatever it takes to do the job, I will step in to best of my ability,” Barraza said.

She said Gloria Maya was promoted to town clerk from deputy town clerk in February. The town, she said, is seeking a new fire chief to replace Kevin Hoban, who retired at the end of the year.

Hoban “set a very high standard,” Barraza said. “I feel we have the best volunteer fire department in the whole state of New Mexico.”

Renovations to the town public safety building included providing sleeping quarters, a kitchen, showers and a TV room for volunteer firefighters, she said.

Barraza said she also is “very satisfied” with the service provided by Mesilla Town Marshal Enrique Salas and his staff.

The majority of Mesilla’s gross receipts tax collections come from visitors to the community, and it is important to continue that, she said. But the town also must “preserve our history” and the community events and activities that are “special to us,” and share that experience with visitors.

During her two trips to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the creation of Organ Mountain Desert Peaks National Monument, Barraza said she stressed “the importance of preservation.”

Barraza is fifth generation Mesillera.

“That’s why I take my role so seriously,” she said. “My roots are here. My heart is definitely here in the Town of Mesilla.”

Barraza, the third of six children, was the last one born in her parents’ Mesilla home, she said.

She and her husband, Paul, have been married for 48 years and have two children and four grandchildren.

Barraza said Mesilla icon J. Paul Taylor, who died in February at age 102, was a long-time friend and mentor.

“His legacy will live on for the Town of Mesilla and the whole community,” she said.

After her retirement from LCPS, Barraza was office manager for the Basilica of San Albino in Mesilla for two years before she was elected mayor.

She currently serves as chair of the South Central Council of Governments, vice chair (and former chair) of the South Central Regional Transit District Board of Directors and a member of the New Mexico Municipal League, Mesilla Valley Metropolitan Planning Organization and the J. Paul Taylor Museum Board.