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Mackey makes African American history in Roswell

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It doesn’t seem so long ago that a whirlwind swept through Roswell. Always led by the spirit of God, this fearless southern belle from South Carolina has been defying the odds all of her life.

Natasha Mackey (Submitted Photo)

Natasha Mackey, a devout woman of God, has not been afraid to make changes in her personal life, and let her voice be heard for change in her community.

Mackey took a bold step and ran for Roswell City Council, as well as for mayor of Roswell. After 26 years in New Mexico, she is still impacting New Mexicans’ lives daily.

As a graduate of Carlsbad High School, she attended the University of New Mexico. Mackey graduated with a degree in biology and earned a master’s degree in business from the Anderson School of Management. After finding her purpose in life, Mackey decided to get another master’s degree in education from Eastern New Mexico University.

“I just say the Lord has a plan to bring you where you need to be,” Natasha Mackey said. “New Mexico has been good to me. I’ve had a lot of favor here.”

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One of the things Mackey has seen in her time in Roswell was how the city and downtown transformed itself. Mackey said downtown used to be in a state of depression, with vacant buildings and derelict structures. She remembers her and her church praying for the city because they wanted it to grow. Mackey wanted people to own their own businesses.

“To me, the foundation of any good community is the church,” Mackey said.

City Council

Mackey considers herself an apolitical person. Her mother was a high school government teacher before earning her Juris Doctorate degree.

She remembers talking to Councilor Jeanine Best, who told Mackey they needed someone to run in Ward 1. Best whips out a map and shows Mackey that she lived one block within Ward 1. Best said to Mackey, it would be like attending a PTA meeting and it wouldn’t take a lot of time. Best believed in Mackey.

“I was struggling personally at the time,” Mackey said. “I was in a state of depression and looking for something to break out of that cycle. I felt like it was a divine appointment for me to run. I wasn’t thinking about race relations or anything like that. I just wanted to give back to the community.”

When Mackey ran for City Council, she didn’t know anything about campaigning and did some research. She was taken by a quote she read: “Get in the business of serving others, give back to your community.”

She became friends with Caleb Grant, another candidate running for City Council. Under his tutelage, Mackey and her team would walk the streets and knock on doors reaching out to people. Name recognition became big for Mackey, because she taught at ENMU-Roswell, and was able to connect with her former students and their parents.

“Being on City Council is like going back to college and getting a graduate degree,” Mackey said. “There is so much to learn about the city, the water department, the electrical department, grants, funding and community block grants. It was so worth it. I learned a lot of information and expanded my purview.”

Mackey was the first African American woman to be elected to City Council in Roswell in 2014. She served one term but learned a lot about the uniqueness of Roswell.

She learned about the airport and all of its enterprises. Mackey is most proud of the new Aquatic Center and helping to select City Manager Joe Neeb. Mackey said she loves what the Bureau of Land Management and City Council were able to negotiate with them coming on and doing their archery courses and owning land over there.

“I love seeing businesses thrive downtown,” Mackey said. “Our city looks really clean. When you drive out to the airport, it looks really nice. The quality of life in and out of the airport has improved. We got the Roswell Film Studio setup, these are just a couple of things I’m proud of in my time on City Council.”

Mayoral run

Mackey didn’t just talk about being mayor of Roswell. In 2018, she had the courage to run. Mackey believed she could help continue to move Roswell forward, which is why she ran for office. Mackey was in it to win it. If Mackey had won, she’d have been the first African American woman elected mayor of Roswell.

Mackey finished in third place behind Del Jurney and Mayor Dennis Kintigh. Looking back, Mackey wonders where she got the nerve to run for mayor.

“I felt like the Lord put it on my heart to run for mayor,” Mackey said. “In and of myself today in 2021, I would not run again. I don’t have the energy in me. I think the mayor has done a good job, and the city looks good.”

Black History Month

Mackey said she loves Black History Month and people should be aware of African Americans’ contributions to society at large. Mackey said she hates that African Americans have been reduced to just a month.

“I would love to see conversations across cultural lines,” Mackey said, “in a setting where people can be heard about some of these hard topics, where people would listen to each other and come to some conclusions that will produce change.”

Today, Mackey works in the Carlsbad Municipal School District. She is also a business owner of Natasha N. Mackey Global Ministries. For the past 25 years, Mackey has been empowering, encouraging and undergirding people to believe in God, and pushing them to be their best.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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