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Residents protest as new Congress members take oath

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Demonstrators hold signs spelling out Roswell Indivisible Tuesday night at Pioneer Plaza in downtown Roswell. Roswell Indivisible, a local group critical of President Donald Trump, organized the half-hour long gathering the same day that new members of Congress were sworn-in, to show that even though the election season is over, they will stay engaged to ensure elected officials bring about change in Washington D.C. (Alex Ross Photo)

Hours after members of the 116th U.S. Congress took the oath of office in Washington D.C., a group of area residents assembled at Pioneer Plaza in downtown Roswell Thursday with a message: The campaign might be over, but we are not going away.

“The election is over, but we are still moving forward with our movement to stop Trump,” said Bob Carroll, who was among the 15 at the gathering.

Roswell Indivisible, the local chapter of a national movement formed in 2016 to push back against what they call the Trump agenda, organized the event that lasted from 6 to 6:30 p.m.

Demonstrators stood together, many with individual placards to spell out the words “Roswell Indivisible,” as passing cars showed support by honking.

Carolyn Madison, who is active with Roswell Indivisible, said the group is in the process of putting together a letter to all five members of New Mexico’s Congressional delegation to remind them that people are still paying attention and will hold them accountable.

“We need government to get back to work,” said Stephen Fleming of Roswell, in reference to the ongoing dispute between Trump and members of Congress over $5 billion to fund the construction of a wall along the southern border.

Democrats picked up 40 House seats in November’s midterm elections, giving them a majority in the lower house of Congress for the first time in eight years. Democrats now hold 235 seats to the Republicans 199. Republicans still hold the majority in the U.S. Senate, where they added two seats to their majority.

Voters in southern New Mexico played a role in handing House Democrats the majority for the first time in eight years, with the election of Xochitl Torres Small in the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District. Torres Small — a Democrat from Las Cruces and former field representative for New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall — defeated state Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, in the congressional race.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Torres Small said her first day in Congress was “pretty incredible.”

She said that she began the day by joining other members of Congress at a bipartisan faith service accompanied by her husband Nathan, her parents, brother, sister-in-law, two nephews and one niece.

“It was just an incredibly hectic day from seeing constituents in my office who had traveled to New Mexico for the event, to making sure that I didn’t get too lost in the Capitol, to taking my first votes and all of it,” Torres Small said.

Torres Small’s first vote was for election of the Speaker of House.

Torres Small, along with 219 other Democrats cast their votes for former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, according to a roll call posted on the U.S. House’s official website.

Pelosi was Speaker of the House when Democrats last held a majority from 2007 to 2011.

Also among Torres Small’s first votes were for a bill to end a 13-day-long partial government shutdown.

Torres Small joined with 240 other representatives, including seven Republicans to pass the bill.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.