Q&A with City Councilwoman Tessa Abeyta Stuve

Tessa Abeyta Stuve

City Councilwoman | Las Cruces, NM

Tessa Abeyta StuveTell us about your background. What are the experiences, including education, that make up the person you currently are?

I am a first-generation college graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Government. While in school I had premature twin boys at 23 and had to adjust my post-graduate plans. I was a stay-at-home mom but looked for ways to interact with my community. Our family grew by one 5 years after our twins were born, and then I started seeking more opportunities outside the home. I became a lobbyist and worked on issues for the NMCSAP and our Child Advocacy Centers. I sat on numerous boards ranging from a religious institution to our Green Chamber of Commerce. All these different groups helped give me perspectives of what Las Crucens face.

What was your trigger moment and why this specific office?

After I had come home from working as a lobbyist during one of our legislative sessions, I was unpacking my experience with my spouse and the perspective that I saw. I had learned that the Councilor in my district was not going to run for another term, and I was giving my list of qualifications I wanted to see. The more I spoke the more I realized I could take my skills and apply them to my community, and that serving the community was worth the risk.

What made you feel qualified to run for office?

My view on what made a qualified candidate had to change. I had to let go of wanting to have all the answers to every question and recognize that my lived experiences and my background and community engagement allowed me to bring something new to the position.

Do you work full-time or part-time?

Listed as part-time work, however, I am consistently scheduled for more.

Most people don’t know what their elected official does on a daily basis. What’s a typical day looking like for you?

Mornings: Kid breakfast activity set up.
Answer emails and attend any committees.
Afternoons: Committees and meetings.
Evenings: Dinner or Events.
Weekends: Events, policy review, and council prep.
COVID and Summer have adjusted my day as I am the primary caregiver to the 3 kids.

Additionally, they might not know what their elected official is responsible for. What is your role in comparison to other elected offices on your level?

A municipal role is so varied and deals with everyday issues. From Utilities, feral cats, or climate action plans, our day can deal with a multitude of items. Municipalities handle the everyday issues, where State and Federal legislators are a bit more removed.

What do you think people would be surprised to know someone in your position does?

When residents have issues I always ask where they are most comfortable meeting, and I still do lots of house calls. When people come have issues they often want to show the problem and I am happy to meet them where they feel comfortable.
What are 3-5 skills needed to be successful in the elected office you served in/are currently serving in?

1. Customer Service Skills. Almost every interaction I have is a form of customer service. Our constituents are coming to us as elected officials usually because they are having a problem and we can help them navigate the system. It doesn’t always mean we will be able to give them the answers they want but we can help get them other solutions or explanations. 2. De-escalation training. As mentioned above, our interactions can vary and it is important to know how to read a situation and deescalate. 3. Policy review training 4. Knowledge of Roberts Rules of Order 5. Oddly enough, please thoroughly review your municipal responsibilities.

What’s the best part about serving in elected office?

I love being able to serve my community and hear about their stories and lives. Every day I get a chance to help make their lives a little better.

What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of while in office?

I am proud of the response that the City of Las Cruces has been able to provide during COVID. We have given over 3.3 million in response aid. We have given funds to help assist with and domestic violence shelters, distribution of masks and sanitation kits for the public, increasing capacity for food distribution, and much more. As we moved through the pandemic, my goal was to help balance the physical, mental, and economic health of our community.

In terms of finances, how much money did you have to raise for your campaign?

I raised around $13,000 for my campaign.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone who’s thinking about running for the position you serve/have served in their community?

Make sure you know your community and why you want to run. Invest your time and experience and you will organically grow your network and your interests.