Torres-Vallejos appointed to Belen City Council

........................................................................................................................................................................................

The glimmer in her eye and smile stretched across her face only begins to describe Audrey Torres-Vallejos’ excitement to fill the vacant Belen City Council position.

“It’s hard to explain how you feel when you’re just so happy,” retired municipal employee Torres-Vallejos said.

Audrey Torres-Vallejos Appointed to city council

She filled the city council seat, left vacant by Mary Aragon, on May 20 during the Belen City Council meeting. The councilors voted unanimously to accept Mayor Rudy Jaramillo’s recommendation to appoint her to finish the remaining 10 months in Aragon’s term.

As the Belen resident walked up to take her spot, each councilor shook her hand and congratulated her. Torres-Vallejos said she sat down in awe of the moment her dreams were coming true.

“When your dreams come true, you’re like, ‘Is this real? Can I pinch myself?’” she said after the meeting.

She recalls being speechless when Jaramillo first asked her if she was interested in the position.

“I stuttered over my words and said, ‘Thank you. Yes,’” she said.

As a city councilor, she plans on building upon the progress the current city council has made in pushing the city’s momentum forward.

“I hope I can help the council move forward with the city that’s starting to pick up and look better,” she said.

She is going to focus on repairing sidewalks and potholes, cleaning up trash, bringing businesses to the Hub City and listening to her constituents.

She also wants citizens to feel free to approach her about any concerns like they did with Aragon.

Torres-Vallejos began her 27-year government career with the city of Socorro, where she served as administrative assistant for the mayor and city manager, a clerk in the water department, purchasing manager and administrative assistant in the police department.

The three-year realtor got her foot in the door when former deceased Socorro City Manager Tiny Anaya told her to come work for the city, to which she jokingly replied, “OK. Well, give me a job,” and Anaya did.

“He gave me my first shot and I’ve been at it ever since,” she said.

As she learned about the government’s inner workings, she began to love her career path, which soon turned into her passion. Each day she wondered what new challenges she would face, including keeping up to date with the changing governmental laws and address resident’s concerns.

“Once in a while, you would get a thank you from residents and it makes everything all worthwhile,” she said.

After 15 years with Socorro, she joined the city of Belen as purchasing manager, but walked away in 2010 when administrators were contemplating a round of layoffs to address the $3.2 million budget deficit.

Since she was eligible to retire after 12 years, she thought it would be best to do so to save somebody else’s job.

“It hurt me to retire and leave, because it’s something I really loved,” she said. “I had so much more to complete, but I had faith in those there to pick it up and they have.”

While on retirement, she tended to her three-acre farm in Belen with five horses, her dog, Buddy, her cat, Minx, 11 chickens and a vegetable garden. In her spare time, she watches her grandchildren.

She’s kept active in the community by delivering pastries from Lowe’s grocery store to the Belen Senior Center once a week.

She’s spearheaded the city of Belen Lodger’s Tax Committee as the chairwoman after being appointed by the mayor to the committee in 2012. That year, Torres-Vallejos unsuccessfully ran for city councilor.

She is married to Steve Vallejos and mother to four children, Christopher, David, Jessica and Steve. She has nine grandchildren with one due any day.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.