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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A one-year incumbent of the Central New Mexico Community College board and the former head of one of the school’s campuses are vying for an open spot for District 4, one of the larger districts in the CNM area that includes the South Valley campus.
Melissa Armijo, 49, currently represents District 4. Annette Chavez y De La Cruz, 58, the challenger, worked at CNM for 17 years and ultimately served as the director of the South Valley campus.
Both Armijo and Chavez y De La Cruz agree the college’s shrinking finances will be CNM’s biggest challenge. Statewide, higher education institutions have struggled with their budgets in connection to decreased enrollment and shrinking state appropriations.
The state appropriation for CNM was cut from $56 million to roughly $53.2 million or about five percent, said school spokesman Brad Moore. The school’s overall budget in fiscal year 2015-16 was $226.9 million. In fall 2016, CNM served 24,781 students across several campuses in the Albuquerque metro area.
Armijo was named to the board in January 2016 following the death of her husband Mark Armijo, the previous seat holder. She is a University of New Mexico staffer in the purchasing department and is part of the university’s staff council. She is working toward an associate degree in the liberal arts and a bachelor’s degree in women’s studies.
If re-elected, she said she would continue to streamline CNM’s administration and offer early retirement packages to help balance the budget. She said the goal is to avoid raising tuition.
“I definitely don’t want to cut any programs,” Armijo said.
Chavez y De La Cruz is retired and married to former County Commissioner Art de La Cruz. She currently works part time at the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Phoenix and a master’s in educational administration from New Mexico State University.
If elected, she said she would be visible in her district and talking to local businesses about their workforce needs.
“I will be in my community asking them what courses matter to them,” Chavez y De La Cruz said.
Place of residence: Albuquerque
Education: Working toward an associate degree in Liberal Arts and a bachelor’s degree in Women’s Studies.
Occupation: Senior fiscal services technician, University of New Mexico Office of Procurement, 2008-present; administrative office manager, J-MAR and Associates, 2003-08; administrative office manager, Thomsen Nellos Engineering Inc., 1995-2002.
Family: Mark Armijo, husband (deceased); two children.
Political/government experience: Appointed to CNM Governing Board District 4 seat in January 2016 to replace deceased board member and Vice Chairman Mark Armijo.
Major professional accomplishment: Examined and engineered a UNM procurement procedure that had been in place over 10 years to create and implement one that the UNM Department of Procurement adopted as a more efficient and cost-effective system.
Major personal accomplishment: My personal involvement in the creation of the Armijo Family Scholarship Fund created by family and named for Pauline Armijo, my mother-in-law, and Mark Armijo, my late husband. Pauline’s scholarship supports educators and Mark’s scholarship supports entrepreneurs.
Annette Chavez y De La Cruz
Place of residence: Albuquerque.
Education: Master of Arts, Educational Administration, New Mexico State University, 2010; Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, University of Phoenix, 1987.
Occupation: Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande, special project administrator, 2013-present; Albuquerque Public Schools, Families and Schools Together (FAST), Spring 2015, Fall 2014, Spring 2013, Fall 2013; Central New Mexico Community College, campus director/student success team leader, South Valley campus, 2010-11; CNM, interim campus director, South Valley campus, 2008-10; CNM, Job Connection Center, director, 1999-2008; CNM, human resources representative, Human Resources Department, 1994-99; Albuquerque Public Schools, 1981-94, including positions analyst in the Human Resources Department, 1990-94.
Family: Art De La Cruz, husband; two children.
Political/government experience: None.
Major professional accomplishment: As CNM South Valley campus director and Job Connection center director, reversing enrollment decline, building class attendance from my community, assisting students and graduates find and keep work, ensuring student success and well-being.
Major personal accomplishment: Raising two healthy, hardworking, compassionate children who also give back to the community and attend UNM as a second-year biology major and a second-year law student.
CNM District 4 Candidate Questionnaire
1. Why do you want to be a member of the governing board?
Armijo: My commitment to community service spans over 15 years. The organizations I have been a part of have served students of all ages, so CNM is a natural place for me to continue this work.
Chavez y De La Cruz: Because I am passionate about education. I have been passionate about my own, my husband’s, my children’s and my community’s education. Education provides hope and opportunity, and is transformative. I have a record of getting things done.
2. What is CNM’s role in the state of New Mexico?
Armijo: CNM’s role in the state is an economic development engine and an institution that is more than a community college. CNM provides relevant, innovative classes to students so they can improve the workforce in New Mexico.
Chavez y De La Cruz: To educate a workforce for jobs now and in the future. To connect with local employers to build relevant, timely programs and courses. To be an economic engine for the state.
3. How would you address diminishing state funding for higher education institutions?
Armijo: I would offer retirement opportunities to eligible employees and develop creative ways of combining similar positions so that duplication of efforts within departments ceases. I would also consider minor benefit changes that have minimal impact.
Chavez y De La Cruz: Government institutions must live within their means at whatever level of funding is available. At the same time, exploring every option to find efficiencies and decrease waste.
4. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Chavez y De La Cruz: No.
5. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
Armijo: Yes, personal.
Chavez y De La Cruz: No.
6. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state?
Chavez y De La Cruz: No.
Vote for CNM Governing Board
Eight candidates are running for Governing Board seats in District 1 (West Mesa campus), District 4 (South Valley campus), District 5 (Main campus) and District 7 (Joseph M. Montoya campus). The election is Feb. 7. Early voting runs through Feb. 4. For a complete list of polling locations, visit cnm.edu and type in “election.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect CNM’s current budget.