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Salud! co-owner announces bid for seat on county commission


Christopher Schaljo-Hernandez, small business owner and former chair of the Doña Ana County Democratic Party, announced that he is a candidate in the race for Doña Ana County Commission District 1.

Schaljo-Hernandez and his husband, Russell Hernandez, live in Mesilla, where they recently started their family, he said in a news release. They have three young children who all attend Las Cruces Public Schools.

Christopher and Russell own Salud! de Mesilla restaurant, 1800 Avenida de Mesilla, which employs more than 30 people, Schaljo-Hernandez said.

Schaljo-Hernandez, a 2012 of New Mexico State University with a degree in government, said he “has a fond love for public service and public policy.”

Schaljo-Hernandez was chair of the county Democratic Party 2017-19, after becoming party treasurer in 2015. During his tenure as chair, Doña Ana County became “a fully blue county in the 2018 election,” he said, as the Democrats won all local races.

Schaljo-Hernandez also serves on the board for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and Southern New Mexico Pride board. He served as chair of the Las Cruces Economic Recovery Council during the initial Covid-19 outbreak “that helped bring services and much needed relief to the people of Las Cruces,” the news release said.

Schaljo-Hernandez is running because of his love for community, he said.

As “a small business leader and advocate,” Schaljo-Hernandez said he is “committed to ensuring that the needs of Doña Ana County and its residents are met,” and said he is looking to becoming a leader on the county commission, where he can focus on promoting transparency and real accountability.

Schaljo-Hernandez is interested in helping to expand the economic and social opportunities available to all Doña Ana County residents, he said, “while centering the values that make southern New Mexico such a vibrant and beautiful place to live.”

“An important reflection of our values is our budget,” Schaljo-Hernandez said. “Ensuring the process is transparent and equitable is a top priority.”

As a county commissioner, Schaljo-Hernandez said he also will focus on “land and use planning that promotes growth but maintains our unique and treasured qualities,” and will serve on the commission “with the health, safety and welfare of all Doña Ana (County) residents in mind.”

County Commission District 1 includes the South Valley communities between Vado and Mesilla Park, as well as Downtown Las Cruces, Mesilla and Picacho Hills.

The district is currently represented by Commissioner Lynn Ellins, a Democrat who was elected in 2018.

Tuesday, March 8, is the deadline for candidates to file for 2022 county primary races.