By Mike Cook
Being a county commissioner is “a full-time job,” said Shannon Reynolds, a Democrat seeking his second four-year term on the Doña Ana County Commission in the November general election.
Reynolds said he has kept a full calendar throughout his nearly four years on the commission, often working 12-hour days representing a district that includes part of Las Cruces and residents and communities in the southeastern part of the county.
Reynolds said part of the reason he decided to seek re-election was encouragement from his wife, Maggie, who told him, ‘You’ve still got too much to do. There are people in the county who count on you.’”
Among commission accomplishments during his first term, Reynolds listed:
- The county has allocated more than $8 million to assist more than 1,500 families with rent, mortgage and utilities payments, with another $7 million in federal assistance to continue until 2025 and an additional $4 million coming in state assistance.
- Doña Ana County was the first county in the state to pass an emergency declaration because of COVID-19, giving the county access to FEMA reimbursement funds.
- The county has expanded bus service from Las Cruces south to El Paso, east to Alamogordo and north to Hatch, Rincon, Radium Springs and Doña Ana; approving a $4 million. “We have more to do,” Reynolds said, including getting bus service to Truth or Consequences, which would give county residents direct connection to the New Mexico State Veterans’ Home. He would also like the county to extend bus service from Chaparral to Alamogordo, Reynolds said. “Seriously improving transportation so everyone in the county has reliable, free access so they can get where they need to be” is a top priority for his second term, Reynolds said.
- The county entered into a $4 million contract to install fiber conduits from Hatch to Las Cruces. The county is “moving in the right direction” in infrastructure development, Reynolds said, but added he is concerned not all students in the county “have good connectivity.” Improving internet access in the county is his top priority for state funds allocated to the county, Reynolds said.
- County “fire service is getting better as promised,” Reynolds said. County ISO ratings, which help determine insurance rates, were improved from a 10 (no service) in some areas to a 5-7 during his first year in office, Reynolds said. County Fire Chief Shannon Cherry is “doing a fantastic job,” he said.
- The county has invested millions of dollars in improvements and job growth in Santa Teresa, Reynolds said. Under the leadership of Border Industrial Alliance President Jerry Pacheco and others, Santa Teresa is “relocating the economic center of commerce from northern New Mexico to the southern part of the state,” Reynolds said. Pacheco and leaders from the county, the state, the U.S., Mexico and the Mesilla Valley Economic Development Alliance (MVEDA) “know what the opportunity is and they’re committed to it,” he said. The county Jetport in Santa Teresa has received millions of dollars in county, state and federal investment, Reynolds said. Santa Teresa, he said, “has the potential to become the No. 1 border crossing in America.”
- The gross county product has grown from $3.52 billion to more than $4.84 billion (37.5 percent) since 2018, Reynolds said.
- Using 2020 census data, Reynolds said he worked with a county contractor to ensure the redistricting of county commission districts “more reflected the culture of the representative population.” As a result, he said, with a county population that is 65.7 percent Hispanic, all five commission districts now have a majority of Hispanic residents.
- While serving as Spaceport America regional district chair, Reynolds said a renegotiation of bonds saved the county more than $8 million finance and other charges. Reynolds said he would like Spaceport, located in Rincon in northern Doña Ana County, become a self-sustaining entity and “the premiere spaceport in the United States.” The county has received gross receipts tax revenue from Spaceport, he said, but “should not bear the brunt” of its construction and other costs.
“I represent the people of the county,” Reynolds said. “I do what is best for every person in the county.”