• Gregory Z. Smith

Running for Mayor

Updated: Jan 11, 2019

Sleep eluded me some nights ago; so, as Allison slept calmly beside me, I lay there wide awake trying to figure out what would get me to fall peacefully asleep. Finally, I looked at the choices I had before me on running for office this year, and I discovered that the decision was already made. I still didn't go back to sleep for a long time, but I did know what I would be doing this year.

Over the past two years, I have thought long and hard about what turn my public service would take in 2019. I have listened to a lot of people with different opinions and insights. I have considered carefully what the three main choices mean to this community, to my family and friends, and to me. I was already pretty certain that stepping away from running for office was not the right choice, but choosing between running for mayor or running for reelection as a councilor was the remaining dilemma.

The absolute clarity I got that sleepless night was that I would be running for mayor. It is the right thing to do, and this is the right time to do it.

In the following days, thoughts about why and how began firming up. Central to why can be summed up this way:




Economic Diversity


People often comment very positively on my being at local events, and I also hear appreciative remarks about how I respond to communication. It is something I rarely think twice about: I simply believe it is part of my job. So, a significant piece of what I offer is responsive leadership. I am present, I listen, I respond.

Leadership also entails setting an example and representing the city. I pay attention at our meetings. I ask questions for clarification, or I make my points as succinctly as possible. I represent Las Cruces at council of government meetings, at the New Mexico Municipal League, and at the National League of Cities. I did that and more as mayor pro tem, and I continue to do so as a councilor. I have treated my position as a councilor as a full time job, and it is time we have a full time mayor.

My integrity is something I take very seriously. I remember a time, years ago in high school, when the chemistry teacher was going over our answers on a test with us: a very constructive thing to do so that we could learn from our mistakes. However and unfortunately, in this instance, when he or his assistant was checking my answers, the guide must have slipped (it was a multiple choice test) so that a bunch of my correct answers were marked as incorrect. I brought this to the teacher's attention, but he made the mistake of saying that I had marked on the test so that he couldn't tell what my original answers had been. As a normally serious and generally well-behaved student, what happened next was rare in the extreme and had the rest of the class stunned. My honesty had been questioned, and I lost it (verbally, NOT physically!).

When occasionally presented with that kind of adversity these days, which is pretty much inevitable in politics, I remain calm, but I am still someone who believes in being honest, always. It may have to be tempered with discretion or confidentiality when required and with diplomacy when advisable, but "white lies" and "convenient truths" are outside my repertoire. Expect consistent honesty, integrity, and conscience from me.

Given my background in architecture and education, vision is basic to me. I see operationally what is in plan. I plan for optimal results and for flexibility as conditions change. I assess needs and anticipate desired outcomes. For our community, that means that I am looking for ways to keep what we love about Las Cruces uniquely centered in what we are and will be as Las Cruces. I assess what is needed to get to where we want to be while still being quintessentially Las Cruces. I plan for a variable future that has Las Cruces uniquely positioned, both as a desirable destination and as a dynamic home.

Specifically, I see our downtown as a vital center or heart for our community. I see our historic structures, both downtown and elsewhere, as physical connections to our past and as grounding for what we do with our future. I see our vacant and underused properties as opportunities to be innovative and to take initiative. I see our museums as ways to educate and as ways to engage our citizens and our guests. I see our recreational venues as paths to good health and community well-being. We have to see what is possible and then plan for it.

Finally, there is always and rightfully a concern about jobs, careers, gainful employment. This is one reason economic diversity is such a critical element. We are watching things coming our way such as autonomous vehicles: cars, buses, and trucks that carry people and goods without human drivers. We are seeing ATMs and digital checkout lines replacing their human counterparts. We are seeing robots, drones, and computers doing more and more of the things that only humans could do previously. These changes are ongoing and inevitable, and we will see employment opportunities continue to shrink in some areas and grow in a few others.

In Las Cruces, then, we have to carefully consider where those growth areas are for the sake of our families, neighbors, and friends. We have to consider carefully how we attract the employers who will be fit with who we are and where we are going. We have to use the creative economy to bolster what agriculture has been naturally for us for many centuries, what NMSU brought to us in the last two centuries, and what engineering and space have brought to us in the last one hundred years.

So, I see tourism, film, culinary arts, visual and performance arts as growth industries for us. I see agriculture as a constant, but as something in which we may see fewer and fewer people being employed. Education, engineering, and innovation are three areas where we have foundation and structure, and they are three areas where we need to continue to build. Wellness, health care, and medicine are three fields we are already and necessarily growing, and we will likely find that it will be hard to replace humans in many critical aspects of what is done. As we find intersections and tangents to these fields, we will also, I believe, find more employment opportunities in Las Cruces and the Mesilla Valley.

At my announcement, an alternative to "V" was suggested as "Victory!" and that prompts me to ponder other alternatives to the other letters. "L" could be for "Lasting," "I" could be for "Independent," and "E" could be for "Everybody." Regardless...

¡Viva, Las Cruces!

LIVE Las Cruces!


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