By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
LAS CRUCES – Johana Bencomo is making her first bid for public office in her run for the District 4 seat on the Las Cruces City Council.
Bencomo hopes to succeed incumbent Jack Eakman, who won the seat four years ago and will not be a candidate for re-election in the November election. District 4 encompasses west Las Cruces.
Bencomo, 31, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where some of her relatives still live. She came to the United States with her family at age 8, settling in Holyoke, Colorado. Bencomo moved to Las Cruces at age 18 to attend New Mexico State University, where she obtained a BA in government in 2010 and a master’s in social work in 2015.
“I have always loved politics and policies,” Bencomo said. She discovered a “whole new love for social movements” while studying at NMSU, where she was particularly inspired by Neil Harvey, Ph.D., head of the NMSU Government Department.
“Community organizing is like my whole heart,” Bencomo said, including building leaders and helping “regular people advocate for themselves … and change the ways their communities function.”
Coming to NMSU also meant finding a home in Las Cruces, Bencomo said. “I love this city,” she said. “I believe in Las Cruces.”
Bencomo attended Emerge New Mexico candidate training program in 2018 and decided to run for city council because she wants to “be part of the discussion (and) is ready to serve the community,” she said. “I’m a fighter for things I love and believe in.” Serving on city council will allow her to “fight for people in a whole new way,” Bencomo said. “I believe in my ability to lead.”
Bencomo said a recent discussion she had with students at Arrowhead Park Early College High School about the migrant situation in Las Cruces “was a really powerful experience” and confirmed her support for mentorship programs to help young people develop the “skills, resources and confidence” to become leaders.
“I’m not afraid of courageous conversations,” Bencomo said. Discussions of difficult issues among people with different views is “how you build a new community narrative … people on different sides can still respect one another.
“You can’t make everybody happy (but) you have to build spaces where people can have hard and serious dialogues with each other.”
At the city level, she said, Las Cruces can “show New Mexico and the United States what true nonpartisan politics can look like.”
Bencomo said she is framing her campaign around the needs of District 4, including places that “just need attention, love and investment.” The district, she said, needs a councilor “that will fight for those places,” including Amador Proximo, the multi-use neighborhood west of downtown that has been targeted for re-development; the MacArthur Elementary School neighborhood, where young families need help with home investments and renovations; and Burn Lake, where a restoration of public spaces should be explored.
Bencomo also said city and state road construction on and near Valley Drive and Picacho Avenue has sometimes left business and property owners out of discussions about the projects, Bencomo said.
These areas “have so much potential,” Bencomo said, and need a city councilor to serve as a mediator between the city and residents. Bencomo said she will hold regular public meetings and go door to-door in District 4 to discuss issues.
“It’s a good time to be a Las Crucen,” Bencomo said.
Contact Bencomo at 575-323-1625 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit Johana4LC.com.
Mike Cook may be contacted at email@example.com.