August 24, 2020
Las Vegas, N.M. – New Mexico Highlands University political science professor Elaine Rodriquez was appointed to the Las Vegas City Council for Ward 3 at a public hearing Aug. 19.
After a unanimous vote by the city council, Rodriquez was sworn into the position, which she begins officially in September. Las Vegas Mayor Louie Trujillo recommended Rodriguez’ appointment to the council.
“I’m delighted to have a woman sitting on the Las Vegas City Council,” Trujillo said. “I feel like Dr. Rodriquez is a very strong person with great knowledge regarding the way government functions. She is going to be an excellent leader to represent the people in Ward 3.”
Joseph Baca resigned from the Ward 3 city council seat in July, creating the vacancy.
Rodriquez, who joined the Highlands faculty in 2006, is the chair of the History and Political Science Department.
“As a public official, I will work collaboratively to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment, cultural traditions and a bright future for our young people,” Rodriquez said. “My service to the Las Vegas community demands open dialogue, transparency and accountability.”
Rodriquez earned her doctorate in political science from Northern Arizona University in 2002. Her fields of study include American government and politics, Latino and Latina politics, and Southwest history and politics.
In 2009, University Press of America published Rodriquez’ book, The National Voter Registration Act: Impact and Implications for Latino and Non-Latino Communities.
“My knowledge and experience in leadership development, community-based research and civic engagement transfer easily into public service work. As an educator, I promote civic engagement with my students. It is essential to provide individuals with the tools to understand the inner workings of government and the importance of voting and attending public meetings to voice their concerns. We need to make government accessible to the public,” Rodriquez said.
At Highlands, Rodriquez teaches classes such as State and Local Government, Public Administration, Public Policy and Organizational Leadership.
“I’m very interested in having my Highlands political science students serve in internships in Las Vegas city government. This will help them gain valuable experience and then apply to jobs locally. This way, we retain their brainpower and commitment to the Las Vegas community,” Rodriquez said.
Rodriquez said Chicano civil rights is one of her passions.
“I’ve been active in Chicano civil rights since I was in high school in Grand Junction, Colorado. I was first motivated by the discrimination my mother faced in employment. The early Chicano leaders I admire most are Dolores Huerta and Cesar Chávez,” Rodriquez said.
Rodriquez completed her master’s degree in political science from Highlands in 1992.
“Dr. Maurillio Vigil, a now-retired political science professor from Highlands, inspired me to pursue my doctorate,” Rodriquez said.
Rodriquez said her aspiration was always to return to Las Vegas and live there permanently.
“My father and I moved to Las Vegas when I worked on my master’s degree and we loved it here. The opportunity to return arose in 2006 when I began teaching at Highlands. As a community member, I have a vested interest in community prosperity for Las Vegas residents, including my children and grandchildren who live with me,” Rodriquez said.