By Mike Cook
In Las Cruces in 2021, live theater, sporting events and many other public gatherings returned after a hiatus of about a year and a half. It was also a blockbuster year for filmmaking in Las Cruces, and New Mexico State University hired a new soccer coach, Jerry Kill.
We saw the selection of a new headmaster for Las Cruces public schools when former Camino Real Middle School principal Ralph Ramos succeeded the late Karen Trujillo. In her honor, the LCPS administration building was renamed in September. The president of the LCPS Board of Education, Ray Jaramillo, was re-elected in November, and Pamela Cort, who was appointed to the board in July, was elected for a full four-year term. Robert Wofford was also elected as a new board member, replacing Maria Flores, who is retiring after almost 13 years on the school board.
In the November local elections, Mayor (and Doña Ana County Commissioner) Diana Murillo-Trujillo was re-elected to Anthony, and Hatch elected a new Mayor, James L. Whitlock, to succeed former State Representative Andy Nuñez, who was named mayor in 2013. Las Cruces will have its first all-female councilor, working with Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who ended his record-breaking 14 year in office in 2021.
Here are thoughts on 2021 and the New Year from elected officials and community leaders:
Doña Ana Community College
The year 2021 was definitely not what we expected, ”said Doña Ana Community College
President Mónica F. Torres. “It was a year in which we fought, we mourned and with a little optimism we learned. I would be grateful if we all recognized the possibilities that art offers: to think, to feel, to imagine our future and to reinvent it. In 2022, I hope that we will use our intelligence, creativity, and compassion to create a community that supports prosperity and security for all.
Doña Ana County
“Despite facing such a major public health crisis in the country, we are optimistic about 2022,” said Fernando R. Macias, Doña Ana County Manager. “We have received tremendous support that enables us to support our residents and business owners during a difficult time. The county leadership remains united in our priorities that support our communities.
“In the New Year, our residents can expect new, streamlined ways to access county information, learn more of the good news from county neighbors helping neighbors, and an enhanced voice to share how we can continue on our behalf Serving residents make Doña Ana County the best place to live, ”Macias said.
City of Las Cruces
“I would like to thank our community for your support and persistence in dealing with Covid-19 since March 2020,” said Miyagishima. “These are truly unprecedented times, but fortunately we have the best healthcare workers in our country who work tirelessly to take care of our community. I hope by 2022 that those who are contemplating vaccination will find out about the science behind vaccines, get the vaccination and help us put a stop to this virus. “
“It is an honor to serve Las Cruces as a councilor since 2009,” said Gill Sorg, who had not re-elected for a fourth term this year. “The collaboration with the city’s employees and my fellow councilors was satisfactory and fulfilling. We have done a lot of good over the past 12 years and I am confident that they will continue to do so. The city’s budget is solid so we can continue to serve our citizens and care for our most vulnerable. Great things will come from the city administration in the next few years.
“Our corner of the world has had some interesting and dark times,” said Sorg. “This year I am proud of our community’s response to these challenges. Nevertheless, I am sure that we can and will do better. I look forward to doing my part, but will take on a smaller role as Supervisor # 4 for the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation Area. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. “
“It is humiliating to have served the people of Las Cruces and District 3 for the past four years,” said Gabriel Vasquez, who gives up his council seat to run for Congress. Record investments across District 3, worked hard to raise the public Improving safety and having acted decisively and boldly to protect Las Cruces residents from a global pandemic) Graham’s Innovation, Ideas and Leadership As I win New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, I am excited to hear the lessons that I’ve learned how to win in the service of New Mexico’s second largest city in a more competitive district that better reflects New Mexico values. “
Gill Sorg is leaving the city council after 12 years but will continue to run the civil service. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District and will serve on six other boards.
“The 2021 legislative session was the most difficult, perhaps in the history of New Mexico,” said Las Cruces MP Doreen Gallegos, the majority leader in the New Mexico House of Representatives. “As part of the House leadership team, we’ve worked hard to keep our New Mexicans safe while keeping the process open and accessible to the public. I think we did well. I am still so shocked and saddened by the loss of life that Covid has caused in New Mexico. I lost an aunt to this terrible illness. “
“I’m looking forward to 2022 and hope that we can finally take Covid in our arms and that all New Mexicans are vaccinated so that we can return to a largely normal life,” said Gallegos. “Covid will be with us forever now. Our job is to make sure that we do not suffer the loss of life that we have experienced over the months.
I will continue to work in 2022 to bring home as much of the one-time federal dollars as possible for my district for investment projects that will improve and change the lives of our children and families. As always, I am honored to serve District 52 and the people of New Mexico. “
“The movie Las Cruces had the best guy of 2021, a busy one,” said Andrew Jara, associate film liaison for Las Cruces. “We’ve had productions from all over the country that were shot all over Dona Aña County, from Mesilla in a Mexican village to Bruce Willis Action Downtown. The community was so warm that many productions told us they can’t wait to come back. We have been able to be so successful because of the great help and involvement from local businesses, our local crew, and the support from the community. It was a team effort and led us to one of our most successful years we’ve ever had! We look forward to 2022 and are working hard to make next year even more productive and successful than this. “
“We started 2021 with great optimism,” said Greg Smith, Executive Director (and former Las Cruces City Councilor) of the Doña Ana Arts Council (DAAC). “There were vaccines and we had proclamations from the towns of Anthony and Las Cruces, the town of Mesilla and the county of Doña Ana to declare 2021 the ‘Year of the Artist’. The time seemed ripe to celebrate survival and the shining place that art occupies in our quality of life here. It also seemed an appropriate way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the DAAC and its positive impact on our region.
“While we have gained some new supporters of the arts and fortunately reconnected with many previous supporters, we have had to say goodbye to a few significant ones. We enjoyed a full year in the elegant rooms of 250 W. Amador Ave. The 50th Renaissance ArtsFaire gloriously came back for two spectacular days at Young Park in November, but that was after the indoor art fair had to be canceled in March. In the more extenuating circumstances, our Arts 100 donations and art gallery sales have done relatively well, ”said Smith.
“Artists who received Artist Relief Checks from us at the end of 2020 appear to be back on their feet in 2021. The Community Arts Awards in September at The Hood outdoors were great fun and we had three great, if small concerts in our gallery. Our summer art camps for young people were well attended and great fun.
“We’re facing another move in 2022, but there’s a good chance it will become a permanent location,” said Smith. “We ask the population for support to make this safer.
“In the coming year we are on track to hold the Arts Fair on the first weekend in March, the summer art camps in June and July, the Community Arts Awards in September and the 51st RenFaire in November. The conversation continues with the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico and Artspace about artist living and working spaces in or near the Las Cruces Arts and Cultural District, ”continued Smith.
“Perhaps most excitingly, after the great success with a number of young people from Monte Vista Elementary School in our Dawn of Discovery Arts Integration Project working with seven different entities including Spaceport America and the Kennedy Center Partners in Education, are we pursuing this? in 2022 with another art integration project thanks to a generous grant from the Devasthali Family Foundation Fund, ”said Smith.