LOS LUNAS—Cruz Munoz has “only” been a Los Lunas resident for 66 years, and “only” lived in his Hillside neighborhood for 32 years, but he nonetheless considers himself a Los Lunas native.
And as “a native” he’s pretty happy with the way Los Lunas is run and has been run over the decades. That’s why at the age of 71, he offered himself up as a candidate to fill the vacancy on the Los Lunas Village Council from District 3, created when Gerald Saiz resigned after being elected to the Valencia County Commission.
On Thursday, Feb. 21, the council chose Munoz from a field of 10 District 3 residents who applied to fill that vacancy.
“I’m not ready to retire yet,” Munoz said in a post-meeting interview after Mayor Charles Griego recommended his appointment, and Councilors Christopher Ortiz and Phillip Jaramillo approved it. Councilor Gino Romero was absent.
“I just wanted to be part of the positive growth of Los Lunas. We are just so far out in front on a lot of things,” he said. “We have excellent elected officials, administrators and employees who have made this a great community.”
Although not ready to retire, Munoz has already retired from two careers in financial services, one of 28 years as the branch manager for credit for Chrysler Corp. and 12 years with J.P. Morgan Chase, both jobs in Albuquerque.
He still works full-time with Youth Development Inc., and has spent more than 30 years as a coach and commissioner with the Young American Football League program in Valencia County.
“Working with kids invigorates me,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever quit working with kids.”
Addressing the council and audience after he was selected, Munoz said, “I’m excited. All the village departments are doing great. We’ve got sidewalks almost everywhere in the village, the (N.M.) 314 (upgrade) project is wonderful. We’ve got Facebook and we’re doing a great job dealing with growth. My job is to help keep that going and try to keep our kids in town.”
“I’m gonna do a good job.”
Munoz will be sworn in and take his council seat at the next meeting, March 5. The seat comes up for election in November 2021.
“As soon as I’m sworn in, I want to start meeting with my constituents in District 3 and listen to their ideas,” he said. “I want to represent my district the best I can.”
“It was an incredibly tough choice among some quality people —people I’ve known and respected a long time, but Cruz just rose to the top,” said Mayor Griego. “It was a little bit of everything. His financial background certainly matters, but he’s been invested in the community, too, for a long time with YAFL and YDI, mentoring kids. It’s just his overall broad background.”
In other business, the council:
• Authorized Community Services Director Jason Duran to go to public hearings on the proposed citizens survey on community needs. Jacqueline Fishman of Consensus Planning of Albuquerque, which is assisting with the survey, said the version now before the council is the seventh or eighth draft and every effort has been made to include all council concerns.
Ortiz said they may have gone too far on that. He said his original belief was that the survey would look mainly at quality-of-life issues, what he called “what you do after … (work, etc.). I think we’re steering away from quality-of-life projects into streets and roads. I was thinking more recreational and not so much transportation.”
Duran responded, “I think we’ve made a good start on quality-of-life issues,” but that transportion issues were also requested. “But we are working on a separate transportation plan.”
Jaramillo said, “I’m basically happy with this. I think we’re headed in the right direction,” to which Ortiz agreed.
Both joined Griego in calling for public hearings as the next step.
• Tabled a vote on an ordinance to modify requirements for subdivision plats and clairify public notice requirements for area plans for lack of a quorum. Ordinances require three councilor votes and only two were present. The mayor can only vote to break a tie.
• Approved the final 2018 village streets and zoning maps. At the end of each year, after street and zoning changes have been added during the year, the final maps are “locked in” at the end of the year. Those maps then become the baseline for changes the following year, so officials are never working with anything less than the previous year’s final map. Until 1998, the maps were paper atlases, but since then have been digital.
• Approved contracts with four people who will serve as attendants for after-hour events at the senior center and the transportation center. They will rotate on an as-needed basis. Following an executive session, councilors approved hiring a full-time recycling operator and a full-time police officer.