Navigating The Seas Of Change In Las Cruces-Area County Government

Nov 12, 2017

Commentary: Dona Ana County Government will soon be welcoming a new County Manager. District Judge Fernando Macias will bring previous experience of serving in this position in the late 1990s when he begins anew at the County in 2018.

What he might find is that some things at the County are the same as he remembers. But a great many things have changed. Working in county government has certain peculiarities that the general public may not understand. There is a feeling by some that people working in government don’t work hard, don’t care, and receive too many benefits. Like any stereotype, some of this is unfair. And some of it is true. Also, the County has had its share of well-publicized legal skirmishes in recent years. Always an interesting mix of things going on at Motel Boulevard for sure.

Speak to almost anyone in Dona Ana County about their county government and you’ll get a variety of strong, interesting, and varying responses and opinions.

Dona Ana County has many hard working and dedicated employees. The County is like a 
huge ship with deckhands constantly changing with new ones coming on board and others getting off each week. County employees need to better understand what a privilege it is to be in government and to serve the public. In the private sector, if one doesn’t like a certain business they can choose to not patronize it or use it. But the public doesn’t have that choice with government. They must rely on county government for certain vital functions. County employees have an obligation to provide those functions to the best of their ability at all times.

Unfortunately, there are always some leaders who seem more concerned with personal gain than they are in serving the public or becoming more effective at managing people. It is also true that some employees don’t work as hard as they could instead of serving with enthusiasm and dedication. But being a good producer is at the core of any healthy functioning institution. A lack of dedication to doing good work wastes precious financial and human resources and is a disservice to taxpayers. No one can afford the luxury of letting that happen. Feelings of entitlement, indifference, and lack of accountability by leaders or employees is the exact opposite of what government service should be, and the opposite of what the public wants and needs.

All persons in leadership positions set the tone for the workplace. Elected officials, management, and supervisors must create an atmosphere of vision, positivity, encouragement, respect, and inclusion. The workplace reflects the collective tone set by all of these influence makers. And this carries right down from the top all the way to the newest employee starting their first day on the job.

Dona Ana County should be a workplace where each and every employee really feels valued and respected. It should be a place where every employee can feel free to speak up and make suggestions or voice concerns or share ideas without fear of negative consequences. Who knows a job better than the person doing it every day? County leaders should encourage and be open and receptive to the thoughts and ideas of all those they oversee. That sets a positive environment as a place that good people will want to come to work and stay. It’s not enough just to offer training sessions and seminars in how to have a good workplace. None of these teachings mean anything if what they instruct is not made real in the workplace by real human beings.

The County workplace should always be more than just a place to be tolerated by the public and by County employees. It must work to be a competent, responsive, respectful, and place with integrity to provide needed services and develop internal talent.

The taxpayers and residents of Dona Ana County deserve good county government. May all County leaders and the people they lead work to foster and manifest this kind of environment both now and in the future.