Updated: Aug 21, 2019
While our families are so central to who we are, I probably don’t mention mine enough during campaigns. That’s no doubt because so much of what the elections are about focuses on what I bring to the office; who I am; what I have done, am doing, will do. Still, family members are integral, often helping with the campaigns as well as coming under some scrutiny due to their relationship to me.
Several members of my family are well known in our Las Cruces community.
My wife, Allison, grew up in Las Cruces. She attended Pre-K through 12 in Las Cruces Public Schools, did some undergraduate course work and later got her master’s degree at NMSU, and after leaving for the bright lights of Albuquerque, chose to come back to Las Cruces to live with me more than ten years ago.
Her mother is State Senator Mary Kay Papen. She is a fiercely independent 87 year-old, but four years ago, we had a scare with her health that turned out to be associated with the couple who were staying in her home at that point. Allison and I decided the best thing for us to do was to move in with her.
We three are a family living mostly agreeably under one roof. These are two very strong and accomplished women who have established themselves in their fields. We sometimes have very different views on political issues, landscape, furniture placement, and art, but we settle our differences amicably.
Though not in the same house, several members from my side of the family are nearby. A cousin who is a teacher lives right across the street. My grandmother lives a block almost directly south of us. My mother, Jo-an, a local artist, lives a block almost directly east of us. An aunt, who is an office manager, and uncle, who is an IT director, live three houses north of her; and my brother, Jeff, a retired engineer, lives three blocks southeast of her, in our old house.
In a medium sized city like ours, our family and friends tend to connect us quite extensively to just about everyone else here. The comments often made about memories from some event or timeframe can resonate for us about those who’ve moved or left us more permanently. There is often surprise to learn who has known whom. My grandfather is remembered fondly by a number of people still, and there are even a few who yet remember my father.
Similarly, in a state of only two million people, the linkages can connect us more closely than we may expect. Allison was recently apprised of a situation that she didn’t anticipate growing out of how closely linked we all are. An honest mistake was made with one of her two businesses, and I trust in her ability to address it appropriately. Members of my family, including my wife and my mother-in-law, can and will navigate what they have to navigate.
Every family has issues, disagreements, dynamics and challenges, and mine is no exception. The good news is that our family works through it all, and that fact leaves me with the time I need to run for — and serve — as a full-time mayor for the City of Las Cruces.