By Cassie McClure
Published in the Las Cruces Sun-News 10/18/20.
At Las Cruces Utilities (LCU), oversight to its projects and policies are guided by the Board of Commissioners for the City of Las Cruces Utilities (Board). The Board, established in December 2006, consists of seven Commissioners, two of whom are seated Las Cruces City Councilors, and five of whom are unpaid members of the public. Aside from the City Councilors, the Commissioners represent all rate payers and are sought to serve by having backgrounds in banking or finance, business, economics, or engineering. LCU invites the public to get to know their representatives on the Board.
Commissioner Jim Carmichael
After an over 35-year career with Rockwell International Corp. and its predecessor the Collins Radio Company, Jim Carmichael retired as the Vice President of Operations. With his bachelors and master’s degrees in industrial engineering, Carmichael primarily managed diverse electronic manufacturing operations and plants.
“Providing water, wastewater, natural gas and solid waste service to over 100,000 residents is a complex technical and business challenge on a 24/7 basis,” Carmichael said. “The Council and LCU recognized the time commitment and backgrounds needed to provide oversight and guidance. This Board gives the City Council the ability to bring together a diverse set of people with technical and business skills to support the Utility, who are also dedicated to supporting the community.”
Commissioner Dr. Harry Johnson
A New Mexico State University Aggie with all three degrees in chemistry, Commissioner Dr. Harry Johnson spent 36 years at the NASA White Sands Test Facility.
“I enjoyed making it possible and safe for others to get to space,” Johnson said. He started in the chemistry laboratory and progressed to the managerial and financial side. The test facility operated like its own city, he explained, with its own sewage and water wells, making LCU’s terminology not unfamiliar.
“Outside experiences offer different viewpoints on the Board,” Johnson said. “Its an independent group and not focused on the day-to-day operations as so much as the future management of resources.”
City Councilor/Commissioner Johana Bencomo
City Councilor and Commissioner Johana Bencomo explained that her time in social work and community organizing allows her to have a deeper understanding of family needs throughout the city.
“I have the privilege of being in direct contact with my constituents and LCU customers,” Bencomo said. “I love sharing with the public the things that I am learning.”
“I have honestly learned so much from my 9 months on the board. It is one of my favorite council responsibilities,” Bencomo said. “I will continue to be an advocate for the LCU to ensure more and more of our residents understand what goes on behind the scenes and just how hard LCU staff work to keep this city running.”
The other current LCU Commissioners are William Little (Chair), Edmund Archuleta (Vice-Chair), Councilor Gill Sorg, Dr. Harry Hardee and were profiled in a previous article. Commissioners serve a four-year term and are not compensated for their service.
The public is encouraged to attend the Board meetings, which are typically held every second Thursday at 3 p.m. Due to COVID-19, the meetings are currently held via the Zoom Webinar platform, which provide the public the opportunity to participate. Public comment or questions can also be emailed to: UtilitiesCustomerComments@las-cruces.org
LCU can be reached at 575-528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.
PHOTO 1: (Top to bottom) Commissioners Jim Carmichael and Dr. Harry Johnson, and City Councilor/Commissioner Johana Bencomo.