Conservation activist Gabe Vasquez has won the District 3 seat on the Las Cruces City Council.
With 10 of 15 polling places reporting, Vasquez was leading with 480 votes, or 71 percent, to Bev Courtney’s 192 votes, or 29 percent. NMPolitics.net has decided to call the race.
Vasquez will replace Olga Pedroza, who did not seek re-election this year.
Though NMPolitics.net was calling the race for Vasquez, he said he would wait until all votes were counted before declaring victory. But, reached 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, 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 could not immediately be reached for comment. In an interview last week, she called Vasquez “a bright and personable young man” but said she has “more experience and a greater depth of understanding of the stakes at hand.”
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.