Algernon D’Ammassa, Las Cruces Sun-News
Published 5:13 p.m. MT Aug. 22, 2019 | Updated 8:36 a.m. MT Aug. 23, 2019
LAS CRUCES – Jack Valencia Jr., who served on the Las Cruces City Council from 1985 to 2001, is seeking a return to City Hall.
Valencia, 63, announced Wednesday night that he will seek the open District 2 seat, which is being vacated by Councilor Gregory Z. Smith in order to run for mayor. Valencia is the third candidate to declare a run for the seat.
“I look at myself as a Las Crucen thick and thin,” Valencia said during a visit to the Sun-News Thursday. “I’ve been here since the early 1960s, I’ve seen the community develop and it’s really developed nicely over time.”
Residing in the district abutting the main campus of New Mexico State University, from which he attended from 1974-1979, Valencia said he was eager to draw technological and manufacturing jobs to the community working with the university.
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Valencia said there was no major event or concern that prompted his run, but an opportunity to run a positive campaign for an open seat and return to service. He said his prior 16 years of experience on the council would be a major asset.
“I know how to patch holes, get police service, try to maintain reasonable utility rates,” he said, “but what is required to implement a vision collectively between the council and the mayor.”
During his years on the council, Valencia also served on the New Mexico Municipal League as treasurer, vice president and president.
After representing District 3 during his 16 years on the council, Valencia was not a candidate in 2001, when Dolores Archuleta was elected to the seat.
Speaking of the city’s response this year to the migrant crisis in which, since April, Central American asylum applicants in need of assistance have been dropped off daily by the U.S. Border Patrol, Valencia remarked, “I have never personally felt in danger in any form or fashion with the migration or immigrant population that has been here for decades.”
Earlier this month, the council approved its second allocation of $500,000 toward maintaining a central processing center for the migrants, as it seeks federal funding to continue services.
Referring to immigration policy as a “political football,” Valencia said it was reasonable for members of the public to inquire about the local expenses committed to the program, saying, “You have to be cautious in the manner in which you expend public dollars.”
Smith announced in January he would seek the mayor’s office rather than a third term as the District 2 councilor.
In April, Las Cruces Green Chamber of Commerce board member Tessa Stuve announced her candidacy for the seat. Last week, Philip VanVeen, owner of Eagle Security, declared he would make his second run for the seat.
Candidates must file Aug. 27 for the Nov. 5 election. It will be the first election in Las Cruces to offer ranked-choice voting for municipal officers.
Clarifications: This version of the article removes a stated number of terms Valencia served on the council and also removes a statement that he graduated from NMSU. Valencia said he was one class short of his degree requirement.
More 2019 City Council candidates:
- Johana Bencomo to run for city council District 4
- Antoinette Reyes to seek District 4 Las Cruces City Council seat
- ‘Tessa For Two’: Stuve enters Las Cruces City Council race
- Philip VanVeen makes second run for Las Cruces City Council
- Las Cruces mariachi steward Robert Palacios to run for City Council
Meet the 2019 mayoral candidates:
- Dolores Lucero enters race for mayor in Las Cruces
- Mayor Ken Miyagishima announces bid for reelection
- Las Cruces City Councilor Greg Smith to run for mayor
- Mike Tellez announces run for Las Cruces mayor
- Jorge Sanchez, 20, aims to be Las Cruces’ youngest mayor in city’s history
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