Conservation activist Gabe Vasquez has won the District 3 seat on the Las Cruces City Council.
Vasquez won with 524 votes, or 70 percent, to Bev Courtney’s 226 votes, or 30 percent. Vasquez will replace Olga Pedroza, who did not seek re-election this year.
Reached before all votes were counted, Vasquez said he would wait to declare victory. But, speaking by cell phone, Vasquez sounded optimistic, saying he was “with my friends and family, supporters, neighbors, and it’s a good celebration of community.”
Vasquez is the southern New Mexico coordinator for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation. A first-generation American, he spent his early years in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico and his teen years in El Paso, Texas. He’s lived in Las Cruces for the past 15 years.
Vasquez is a former field representative for U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and a former executive director of the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In the League of Women Voters’ guide to the election, Vasquez described his top priorities as “neighborhood revitalization and job creation.”
“Many older and historic neighborhoods in District 3 are in great need of infrastructure improvements, signage and branding, and infill redevelopment,” he wrote in the voter guide.
“Likewise,” he wrote, “our community needs more opportunities for workers to succeed. We don’t just need more jobs, but better jobs. To help build wealth for local families, we should prioritize local small businesses and give graduating students a chance to succeed here.”
Courtney said she was “disappointed and surprised” by the election outcome “because I had such a positive response at the doors.” She said she worked hard and has no regrets.
“Gabe is a bright guy, and I think he will serve well enough,” Courtney said.
Vasquez said Tuesday evening that he was proud he and Courtney ran a “clean race” and focused on “our values and our visions of what the community needed.”
“I’m really excited that, at least at the local level, democracy is working,” Vasquez said.
This article has been updated to include the final vote count and comments from Courtney.