Taoseños rise to occasion through contentious times

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There’s a light at the end of the tunnel as Nov. 8 approaches quickly. The presidential election has seemed to drag on and on and become more and more a tabloid affair. It’s been an election that has polarized so many and stifled debate on meaningful issues facing the country. The lack of debate is detrimental no matter who eventually wins the White House.

At the Roundhouse earlier this month, a chaotic and sometimes antagonistic special session took place. The result is budget cuts to state programs that will affect many individuals in Taos County. In the midst of those tough decisions came the specter of a death penalty return to New Mexico — an issue that deeply divides a public who is also on edge after horrific crimes against young people and policeman across the state this year.

In Taos, tensions have run high as well. Many Taoseños fervently opposed the idea of allowing for higher hotels in town, even if it was restricted to an area miles south of the Plaza. The opposition has been very vocal and the tension between them, and those who are comfortable with 48-foot-high developments, is palpable. The higher heights passed on a 3-2 vote Oct. 11.

But no matter how crazed global, national and local matters become, Taoseños maintain their sense of community, of outreach and volunteer efforts through it all. It’s part of the fabric of this unique area.

The uniqueness and selflessness was on full display Oct. 12 when The Taos News honored nine “Unsung Heroes” and the “Citizen of the Year” at our annual Tradiciones event at El Monte Sagrado.

Filling the ballroom were not only the honorees and their friends and family, but 106-year-old Eloisa Montoya who was the inspiration for the main Tradiciones image this year. Montoya’s life and longevity are also a testament to those who were recognized — heroes Benton and Arabella Bond, Paul Figueroa, Carl Gilmore, Ernesto Martinez, Medalia Martinez, Ernest Ortega, Sonny Spruce, Becky Torres and Citizen of the Year Elizabeth Crittenden-Palacios.

Each have stories with common themes — perseverance, kindness, community involvement, leadership — and grit in the face of challenges and tough times. Perhaps most importantly, is that it is all maintained while going largely unnoticed — something that is increasingly rare in our selfie-crazed society.

The attributes and behind-the-scenes nature of their personalities not only apply to them, but to the scores of heroes and leaders in Taos County who have never been formally recognized. We know you’re out there. Perhaps you’ll take the stage someday for a public thank-you. But we know Taoseños will continue to do the work in the midst of a contentious election season and ever-polarized society.

Taoseños will continue to do the work no matter which way the winds are blowing on this issue or that — and whether given an award or not.

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