These letters published in the Sept. 12, 2021 print edition of the Las Cruces Sun-News.
Participate in redistricting process
Participation is key to the success of our democracy.
Usually that means voting, but who you get to vote for could change this year because new district maps are being drawn to account for population changes.
You have a say in how these maps are drawn. Drawing election maps is not just about numbers. It is about people being able to organize and speak with a unified voice to solve problems in their communities.
State legislators established a cross-partisan committee of seven citizens to gather input from communities across the state and use that input to propose district maps for Congress, the state legislature, and the Public Education Commission. The committee’s proposed maps must be submitted to the legislature by Oct. 30.
The committee intends to propose district lines drawn fairly through a transparent, open, and participatory process.
The key word is participatory! Your Citizen Redistricting Committee already completed a round of public meetings attended in person or virtually by nearly 1,200 people.
That wasn’t enough. We want these maps to represent your interests and concerns — we need to hear from you!
Based on US Census Bureau data and public comments from citizens, we are creating maps for public consideration. Those maps will be available on or before Sept. 17 so every New Mexican can review, consider, and comment.
We will hold eight public meetings throughout New Mexico and by Zoom from Sept.r 28 until Oct. 8 to gather public input about the proposed maps. You can attend public meetings in person or remotely by Zoom.
You can also submit comments at nmredistricting.org. The website shows you how to draw your own maps to show us how you would like your district to look.
For a complete list of meetings dates, times and venues visit nmredistircting.org.
Edward L. Chavez, New Mexico Citizen Redistricting Committee chairperson
Register for Out of the Darkness Walk
This year was to be our fourth annual American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)’s Las Cruces Out of the Darkness Walk. Due to COVID-19, we have moved the walk to a hybrid in-person event Sept. 25. While the Walk will look different this year, our mission continues to be to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. There are many unknowns, but we know for sure:
- We are a strong and resilient community, united to fight suicide, educate and raise awareness, support those who have lost loved ones, and encourage those with lived experience.
- We remain dedicated to providing communities throughout New Mexico with opportunities to connect, heal, share stories, create impact, and show those who struggle that they are not alone.
- Mental health and suicide prevention are more important than ever, and we’re confident that with your help we can reach more people than ever before.
At our last in-person event in 2019, we had almost 1,000 walkers and raised over $20,000 for education and prevention of suicide in New Mexico. Like many, I walk because suicide has affected me personally. In February 2018, I lost my nephew to depression and anxiety by the means of suicide. Since then, I have dedicated my time to educating others about suicide prevention and mental health.
Our goal is to spread awareness about the suicide epidemic. New Mexico has the highest rate of suicide and it is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-34. We want people to know they are not alone. Please help us ensure that mental health is looked upon in equal importance to physical health and continue to bring hope to those affected by suicide.
Register at afsp.org/lascruces.
Robyn Rehbein, Las Cruces
Address campus sexual assault
Of the 140,792 students that currently attend college in New Mexico, one in ten will experience some form of sexual violence during their time on campus, according to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. That means 14,079 New Mexican students have or will encounter some form of unwanted sexual contact.
As a student at NMSU, I hear the stories behind these numbers far too often from my friends, classmates, and even my instructors. The worst part, though, is the disparity between the lived experiences of those I know and what is represented through annual data required by the Clery Act. In 2019, 81% of higher education institutions in New Mexico reported 0 cases of rape.
Oftentimes, survivors of campus sexual violence choose not to report because of a fear of retaliation, a lack of other support systems, and for many other reasons personal to them. How do we get accurate data while still honoring the needs of survivors? Biennial, anonymous, opt-in campus climate surveys.
Comprehensive data will not end the epidemic of campus sexual assault, but it will allow university administration and the public to understand the severity of this issue. Accurate data opens doors to more resources, more prevention strategies, and transparency between campuses and the communities they serve.
Remember: 14,079 New Mexican survivors of campus sexual violence. One in ten.
Andrew Echols, Las Cruces
Inane bag policy
To the Las Cruces City Council: Did it occur to you folks that during our time of distress with COVID round 2 and other devastating happenings worldwide that Las Crucens do not need even more simplistic thread thrown around our necks?
Your unanimous ban on plastic bags has accomplished that — an unnecessary hurdle.
Customers will now have some angst deciding/remembering what to tote to the stores in order to complete their disordered shopping experience. To make things even more incomprehensible, the cost of the replacement paper bags (10 cents each) will be split between the customer at the cash register and the city for the purpose of “promoting the ordinance.” Hello — the news is already out of the bag!
One council member stated that the ban would protect our quality of life. The quality of our lives has already taken a huge hit. You’ve added more unnecessary confusion to our already shaky existence.
Give us something to smile about or be proud of. That would be appreciated and certainly needed.
Sharron Stepro, Las Cruces
Reduce COVID to reduce crime
The COVID epidemic has caused trauma, suffering, death, chaos and economic hardships, especially among the poorest in our society. These kinds of hardships lead to extreme emotional turmoil which can lead to criminal acts. Reduce COVID and you reduce crime. State Republicans think that harsher sentences are the cure. I think that if Republicans and their propaganda empire stopped spreading lies and ignoring public health measures, we could beat COVID and thus reduce civic unrest and crime.
Let’s penalize Republicans and their media rather than the victims of COVID disruption. Murder has increased in New Mexico but does that compare to the estimated 250,000 Americans who died because they believed Republican lies? (Lancet Commission)
Andrew Wilson, Las Cruces
Pockets picked clean
I read where the NMSU Muslim Students Association and other organizations are asking for donations of money, clothes, cell phones and other items for the Afghans who are being housed at Holloman AFB and Ft. Bliss.
While I applaud their efforts, it begs the question of why should I or any other citizen be expected to step up with donations while our defense budget continues to soar to more than $700 billion — paid for with our tax dollars!
Let the U.S. military provide not only housing but the money to assist the Afghans who are now on our soil. Every U.S. citizen is on the hook for interest on the money borrowed by our government to fight this futile war at a cost of $2.26 trillion for 20 years. Let the bloated Pentagon budget fund the support of these thousands of war refugees.
My pockets have already been picked clean.
Rob McCorkle, Las Cruces
Thank you to responding officers
What a tragic chain of events for Doña Ana County. I live at 2800 Doña Ana Road and called dispatch in regard to the pedestrian being hit on Sept. 3.
I am the daughter of two retired police officers and I must say that I am well aware of the lengths officers/ deputies will go to assist our community. However I must say that the first two officers to arrive at this horrific scene did so in a matter of seconds. They had it under control and everyone sorted out in a matter of minutes, their professionalism was superior to any of it’s kind and they literally put their lives on the line to assist the man that been hit.
Deputy Barrientos #1341 and Officer Olivas #1352 arrived not knowing the extent of injury to the victim or if there were any of his family around. They examined the victim at which time the deputy noticed he had a pulse and immediately without hesitation dropped down and began lifesaving measures as the other relayed information to central dispatch. Amazing team work!
I know you are probably thinking that it’s his job to do that but not on Doña Ana Road and cars continuing to pass by at high rates of speed ignoring the emergency lights. These young men deserve to be recognized and know they are appreciated. It is not easy being law enforcement now a day or any day especially Sept. 3, 2021 but I must say they made a difference.
Tammi McCoy, Doña Ana
What’s next Texas?
The “great” state of Texas, (land of my birth and upbringing) with the passage of its most recent “abortion-rights bill,” has now snuggled- up even closer to extreme Islamic caliphates, which would suppress the very essence of womanhood!
I should say, the bill which prohibits abortion rights. The Texas legislature knows exactly what it is doing. The little girl of 14 years who finds herself pregnant by rape, even if by her own father, will not have recourse to ending her pregnancy! If you don’t believe me, read the bill.
The conservative goal, obviously, is to overturn Roe v. Wade. Why? I have no idea. But I do know that this latest volley will impact, disproportionately, the poor and ethnic minorities. Daughters of the rich will always get their abortions.
What’s next, Greg Abbott? Demanding women wear the hijab!? I would not be surprised!
Judith Magee, Las Cruces
We worked hard for our country
I am a retired federal employee writing to raise awareness of the devasting effects of the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) experienced by nearly 2 million people. This policy reduces the earned Social Security benefits of local, state and federal retirees who worked in Social Security-covered private-sector employment, and who also earned an annuity from their non-Social Security covered government employment. The WEP can result in a monthly Social Security benefit that is $498 lower than deserved, causing undue financial distress
Why should we be penalized for working hard for our country?
Additionally, spouses are feeling the burden of the Government Pension Offset (GPO), a similar penalty, which prevents them from collecting the Social Security benefits their spouses earned from private-sector jobs due to their public service. The GPO affects 716,662 beneficiaries, 47 percent of which are widows or widowers, and 83 percent of whom are women.
We rightfully earned these benefits in exchange for our dedication and hard work to the nation, and, as such, I am inviting other retirees affected by the WEP and GPO to join me in calling on Congress to repeal these unfair provisions. It’s past time to stop punishing us for our public service and allow for us to collect what we rightfully earned.
Gary Prusik, Anthony, NM