Chapter endorsements for local elections

By Richard Barish, Chapter Political chair

On November 5, there are municipal elections in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces, as well as soil and water districts and several school boards. Here are the Sierra Club’s endorsements in the municipal elections and Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District.

Off-year elections typically have poor turnout, despite their importance to climate, water and other issues. Your vote can make a big difference! Check our website for new endorsements before you vote, and if you can donate a few hours to help elect great candidates, please email richard.barish@gmail.com.

Las Cruces

Note: In two multi-candidates Las Cruces City Council races, we endorsed two candidates. With ranked-choice voting, you can vote for both.

Ken Miyagishima
Mayor: Ken has been a strong advocate for environmental policies. Under his leadership the City of Las Cruces has installed 1.1 Megawatts of solar energy on city buildings and is currently adding more. The City is committed to receiving 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2050. It uses methane gas released by its Waste Treatment Facility to power operations, and it has converted all city streetlights to LED. Ken was vocal supporter for establishing the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, and he has championed the development of bicycle and walking paths throughout the city.

Kasandra Gandara
District 1: Kasandra spent her professional career as a social worker with the state, and she has expanded her concerns with the well-being of the community as a city councilor. She is the founder of the resilience leaders program to ensure safe childhoods; she initiated the Mano y Mano program that employs the homeless and founded the suicide-prevention task force. She supports a sustainability plan for the city that includes reaching 100% clean energy usage by 2050, including by the utilization of electric buses and cars and by installing solar panel on city facilities.

Tessa Stuve
District 2 (dual endorsement): Tessa, a mother of three, has been an advocate for children, healthcare, and the environment. She was selected by Moms Clean Air Force to participate in a “Play-In for Climate Action” this year in Washington, D.C., where she spoke with congressional representatives and staff about the threat that a changing climate poses to the wellbeing of our youngest and oldest citizens. Tessa is a member of the Board of Directors of the Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce and was an advocate for the formation of the Organ Mountain-Desert Peaks National Monument.

Jack Valencia
District 2 (dual endorsement): Jack has a long history as a public servant and in transit and waste/recycling issues. He was involved in the startup of the Las Cruces Roadrunner Transit System; the creation of the Hazardous Household Materials collection for the City; and the startup of the South Central Solid Waste Authority and its recycling program.

Antoinette Reyes
District 4 (dual endorsement): Antoinette Reyes has been advocating and lobbying corporations and the government to protect, preserve, and conserve the environment and natural resources since she was 15. She worked in the Las Cruces Sustainability Office, and she worked for a group that helped grow the NM Environmental Public Health Network. In her spare time, she has volunteered to organize events, marches, and rallies that supported human health (clean air and water), wildlife, and wild places.

Johana Bencomo
District 4 (dual endorsement): Johana is a long-time community organizer working with historically marginalized communities. In the last two years she has focused on bridging the gap between social justice and environmental justice, shown through her work on the Energy Transition Act and fighting the border wall with an intersectional lens. Johana is committed to making Las Cruces a model in the Southwest to address climate change, ensuring that the city stays on track for 100% clean energy and investing in innovative ways to allow all residents to have access to clean energy.

Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District

Kurt Anderson
Supervisor Position 1: Kurt is a retired NMSU professor with a strong interest in sustainable water use. He is on the Board of the Doña Ana Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association and served on the Lower Rio Grande Regional Water Planning Steering Committee. A member of the Sierra Club Southern New Mexico Group’s Executive Committee, he also represents the Sierra Club on the Paso del Norte Watershed Council. He is particularly concerned with regional groundwater supplies, water conservation, watershed protection, and rangeland issues.

Christopher Cardenas
Supervisor Position 5: Born and raised in Las Cruces, Christopher is a local attorney who is committed to sustainability. He believes in responsible land stewardship and educating community members on the positive effects we can have on our world. Through innovative conservation policies such as grassland restoration, water preservation, and erosion prevention, he believes Doña Ana can be on the cutting edge of addressing local consequences of poor resource management and climate change.

Santa Fe

Renee Villareal
District 1: Renee is a program co-director at New Mexico Women, where she continues her nonprofit community and urban planning focus. Her main commitment as an incumbent city councilor has been social justice and equity, and her thoughtful style has been an asset to the council. Her priorities are affordable housing, infrastructure improvements like better stormwater management, efficiencies of government (for example a new financial management system), and addressing what to do with the former College of Santa Fe campus (a major budget drain).

Michael J. Garcia
District 2: Michael started his career in AmeriCorps Vista and is the state program director for the Corporation for National and Community Service. His priorities are housing, infrastructure improvements, and friendlier constituent services. In his candidate interview, Michael addressed questions directly and thoughtfully. He believes we need to add more electric-vehicle charging stations, convert to LED streetlights, and improve rainwater capture. Michael is very committed to listening and responding to people’s needs.

Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez
District 4: Jamie gave thoughtful and clear answers both to our questionnaire and at her interview. Her priorities are establishing a Health Alliance Committee (cross-entity focus on community health and social needs), addressing the affordable-housing crisis, and combating climate change by making Santa Fe a leader in sustainability. Her example of something she was proud of, reducing food waste at the Escondido school district, exemplified her analytical abilities and personal interaction skills. Jamie sees climate change through a public-health lens and believes the city’s budget must reflect this.

Albuquerque

Ike Benton
District 2: Ike has been supporting good environment measures for almost as long as anyone can remember. Recently, he co-sponsored the measure declaring a climate emergency and creating a climate plan for the City, a measure limiting the use of single-use plastic bags, and a memorial urging Congress to reauthorize and fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Ike was our go-to guy on all things about the bosque. He has a tough, six-person race, but with his record of accomplishment on the environment, he deserves another term.

Ane Romero
District 4: Ane comes from a farming family in Northern New Mexico. She has significant expertise in behavioral health issues. She was a staffer for Sen. Martin Heinrich and now for Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, where she worked with us on passing important environmental legislation.

Ane is concerned that many residents do not understand the gravity of the impacts of climate change on Albuquerque and the planet, and the she would like the City to work with organizations like the Sierra Club on a city-wide awareness campaign.

Pat Davis
District 6: Pat is another incumbent with a strong record of support for environmental measures. He co-sponsored the City’s plastic bag ban and supports extending the ban to Styrofoam takeout containers, and he co-sponsored the measure declaring a climate emergency and creating a city climate plan. He also sponsored the bill approving Renewable Energy Financing Districts and a memorial opposing transportation of high-level nuclear waste through Albuquerque to Holtec’s proposed interim storage facility.

Maurreen Skowran
District 8: Maurreen first got involved in politics through the Sierra Club. In 2016, she went to Farmington to speak at the BLM hearing to urge stricter regulation of methane emissions. She plans to continue fighting climate change, including by gradually replacing city vehicles with EVs, updating the building code to current environmental standards, and requiring disclosure of the Home Energy Score for any homes listed for sale.

Maurreen will also work to protect the bosque.

Chapter endorsements for local elections