• Gregory Z. Smith


President Kennedy made that statement, essentially a challenge, on September 12, 1962, nearly sixty years ago. Less than seven years later, on July 20, 1969, two astronauts from the United States of America landed on the moon.

On July 21, 1969, Neil Armstrong was the first human to step onto the surface of the moon. I remember witnessing the moment, along with 500,000,000 other people on our planet, fifty years ago, in fuzzy black and white. As he said it at that incredible moment, it was “one small step” for him, “one giant leap for mankind.”

In the following 42 months, eleven other astronauts from the United States walked on the moon. The last of them, Harrison Schmitt, was from New Mexico, and he’s the only one I’ve met. Still, while we may go to the moon again, and perhaps even to Mars, there was this massive challenge issued by a president in 1962. It was accomplished before the end of that decade by people with diverse backgrounds and different skills sets working together on a magnificent scale.

The result was a colossal success story for our country, but it was also something brilliantly significant and glowingly inspirational to humans across our planet.

I do not propose that we go to the moon, but Las Cruces does have daunting challenges to overcome as well as glorious and sublime challenges to which to rise. We can be our own glowing success story, carve out our own glittering place of significance, shine as our own inspirational beacon for others. A full-time mayor can be the critically important operational piece in making that happen with leadership, integrity, and vision.

So, I issue this challenge to our community, to the people serving on the City Council as well as to all who live and work in our Las Cruces: let’s clean up this beautiful home of ours. Let’s clean up the drug abuse issues, the domestic violence issues, the other crime issues, the substandard housing issues, and the underemployment issues. Let’s truly be the place we want to be, and let’s give ourselves twelve years to do it.

No matter who is mayor in 2032, let’s be the cleanest and safest city with our demographics in the country. Let’s start now to reduce drug abuse, domestic violence, and other crimes. Let’s start now to increase the number of people in homes, the number of people productively employed, and the number of people happy to call Las Cruces home.

Let’s be Las Cruces, the happiest, healthiest, most helpful and most humane, mid-sized city in the USA.

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