As a Chair of the Mora County Commission, Paula has dedicated herself to promoting ethics and transparency in county government. Through collaboration and teamwork, Mora County has made progress on completing public works projects, providing basic services such as ambulance and EMS, and developing policies that protect our natural resources and promote rural economic development.
- She served a term as President of the New Mexico Association of Counties (NMAC) where she was a strong advocate to protect the authority of local governments to protect land, water, community health, and the rights of workers. Paula consistently advocated to prevent preemption of local authority.
- In her position as President of the NMAC, she worked with diverse leadership around New Mexico to develop policy priorities and strategy gaining valuable experience in the legislative process. She worked on a range of policy issues including health care, economic development, and natural resources. She established a Native American committee to strengthen communications between county and tribal governments.
- Under Paula’s leadership, Mora County has remained steadfast in protecting public access to White Peak in northeastern New Mexico, a significant area of State Trust Lands treasured for hunting and recreation, working with the Attorney General to keep roads open.
- Working with limited resources, Paula worked to address some of the most critical needs in Mora County. After setbacks and challenges, Mora County has an ambulance service with certified staff and new equipment. She is currently enrolled in the UNM EMS Academy to offer her support as an EMT in the future.
- Paula made major progress on completing unfinished infrastructure projects in her county by securing resources and holding contractors accountable for their work. During her first term as commissioner, county government completed the Mora County Transfer Station to improve solid waste management.
- Paula also took on a high profile and difficult project, the completion of the Mora County Complex. She has worked collaboratively with the courts and state government leaders to get the project on track. She secured resources to complete the next phase and the county is executing a strategy to hold previous contractors and architects accountable for deficiencies in their work on the first phase. County offices are in the design phase with building occupancy expected by June of 2018.
- Under Paula’s leadership, Mora County is also developing policies that will protect land, water, community health, and public safety from potential negative impacts of oil and gas development. An ordinance regulating oil and gas drilling is in progress by the same legal team that developed the San Miguel County ordinance.
- After Mora County lost a legal battle in the courts over an unconstitutional oil and gas ordinance, Paula carefully navigated negotiations so that the county would avoid paying court costs to the plaintiffs and set out on a new strategy that would project local communities while also having a better chance of being upheld by the courts.
For nearly two decades, Paula has also served as Executive Director of the New Mexico Acequia Association (NMAA), a statewide non-profit organization dedicated to protecting water rights of farmers and ranchers.
- During her time of service, the organization grew from a small group of volunteers to a statewide organization engaging acequia leaders throughout the state and a qualified and dedicated staff. The NMAA has worked with hundreds of acequias to strengthen their governance, improve their infrastructure, and protect their water rights.
- Under Paula’s leadership, NMAA has earned a respected voice in water policy in New Mexico. The NMAA has been instrumental in passage of legislation protecting acequia-based water rights and strengthening the governance of acequias. She has also advocated for state funding for hundreds of acequia projects that have received state funding for design and construction. Paula has given numerous presentations for legislative committees and conferences concerning water, agriculture, and rural affairs.
- Through partnerships with other organizations, Paula has worked to promote agriculture as a livelihood and way of life. NMAA established a youth program and farmer training program including apprenticeships for new and beginning farmers. She has been involved in community efforts to foster common ground between acequia and Pueblo farmers around the protection and cultivation of native seeds.