LAS CRUCES – Mayor Ken Miyagishima in his State of the City address Wednesday focused on “quality of place” issues, government transparency and accountability.
“There is much to be proud of as we move through the city,” Miyagishima said.
The mayor of New Mexico’s second-largest city highlighted a vibrant downtown, a new 35,000-square-foot police and fire department complex, and the largest street repair and maintenance initiative in Las Cruces’ history.
The popular mayor was first elected in 2007 and has continued to win re-election. He took a broad view in his address, mentioning among other things the city’s successful fight to stop an electric rate hike that will save residents $75 million over a decade on their bills.
He also stressed Las Cruces’ commitment to renewable energy by adding one megawatt of solar panels to city buildings in the past year and half.
“We want to play a leadership role in our region’s transition to renewable energy, creating high-paying jobs and solid careers for local workers,” he said.
Mayor Miyagishima said that, by the end of the year, “Las Cruces businesses will access all permit and licensing services through an efficient, centralized service center.”
He also proudly noted Las Cruces was named “most transparent city” in the state by the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government this past year. And also achieved top ranking as the “Safest City in New Mexico” by Wallet Hub, a personal finance company that produces frequent quality of life surveys.
A crowd packed City Council chambers for the address, which began with the Singing Out Las Cruces LGBTQA Choir singing a song in Spanish and Zulu.
The audience interrupted the mayor’s speech with applause several times and gave him a standing ovation at the end.
“He’s really well-liked and he does get the job done,” said Pavla Paiz, who retired from the Small Business Development Center last fall. Despite her support for the mayor, she’s also concerned about poverty issues that persist, including “children who don’t have enough to eat, homelessness.”
John Knopp, a Las Cruces native, said he’s worried about jobs.
“With the cutbacks in the federal and state job market, White Sands, there’s almost no military left,” Knopp said.
Like much of New Mexico, Las Cruces is facing the challenge of creating economic opportunities and higher-paying jobs “so that you get more people moving in than people moving out,” said James Hall, assistant athletic director at New Mexico State University.