ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Donald T. Lopez, elected seven times as trustee for the Village of Los Ranchos, has been named by the board of trustees to serve as mayor, filling the unexpired term of the late Mayor Larry Abraham, who died suddenly last month.
Abraham, 64, was midway through his fourth term as mayor when he suffered what was believed to be a heart attack.
Lopez, 72, will fill the mayor position until March 2020, when he will be eligible for a full term as mayor.
Lopez said Thursday that he will name someone, which the board will have to confirm, to fill his now-vacant trustee seat. He said he expects the seat to be filled within the next 60 days.
In addition to serving as a trustee from 1992 until 2000 and again from 2004 until just recently, Lopez has also served as mayor pro tem for 18 years, 14 of them consecutively.
“As a trustee and mayor pro tem, I participated in every decision made on behalf of the village, and now it’s my job to follow through and complete all those expectations and projects,” he said.
Over the years, Lopez said, there has been a lot more development in the village, but his goal will be to “maintain the agricultural base of the community.”
That doesn’t mean he’s anti development. “We have Fourth Street reconstruction going on and I have every intention of making sure the project will be successfully completed,” he said. In addition, the village purchased land at Fourth Street and Osuna NW. “We want to turn it into a very nice development and have issued a request for proposals for a development plan” – possibly as the village center, he said.
The village also owns 19 acres of the old Anderson Valley Vineyard, and where the Agri-Nature Center is now located. “We have farm camps there every year and we may lease the land to local farmers to keep that agricultural aspect going,” he said.
Lopez grew up and has lived most of his life in the Los Ranchos area of Albuquerque’s North Valley. He attended Los Ranchos Elementary School, Taft Junior High School and Valley High School. He graduated from New Mexico State University in 1968 with bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and then obtained a master’s in civil engineering in 1972 from the University of New Mexico. He did postgraduate work in civil engineering in 1975 at the University of California, Berkeley.
Lopez retired in 2000 as the assistant state engineer for New Mexico. That same year, he also retired as a colonel after 32 years of service in the U.S. Air Force and Air Force Reserve.
He is a 2017 graduate of the New Mexico Municipal League’s Municipal Officials Leadership Institute.
Those gathered will be invited to share memories and stories about Abraham. The memorial celebration is open to the public and light refreshments will be served.