AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — “I actually never decided to run,” Potter County Commissioner Mercy Murguia said. “I still say I didn’t decide to run.”
Eight years ago, with no political ambition, the then 32-year-old mother of two was appointed to replace longtime Commissioner Manny Perez.
“When I was a new commissioner at the time, I would have a lot of my elected colleagues at the time say, ‘I feel like you’re everywhere- on every committee on every board–‘ I jokingly said, ‘well I was there before, you just didn’t– I didn’t have a title, right?”‘
Murguia’s passion for the community runs deep.
“I remember knocking on doors and I would have a lot of the people that would go to the restaurant that are now retired and they would say, ‘Mija- are you even old enough to vote yet?’ and I would say, ‘Yes! I’m old enough to vote.’ It was interesting because I was their little car hop a long, long time ago.”
She was born and raised in Amarillo — a first-generation high school and college graduate. This, she said, gives her a unique perspective.
“It’s been an amazing chapter in my life– I’ve learned so much. I hope that we’ve made real change, I hope that we’ve planted seeds. I think one of the most frustrating parts is how long it takes to get things done and that you’re one voice on the table, right?”
There is only so much time in the day. Murguia works full-time from home for a company based in Seattle. This, she said, allows her the flexibility to be in public service.
“It makes for very long days; I don’t want to say it’s very glamorous at all,” said Murgia.
Her two children have grown up in this world of public process. She recalls an interaction with one of her sons years ago. “I remember one of the security officers stopping him and saying, ‘young man, are you here with the commissioner?’ He was very young at the time, and said, ‘Well, yes, but I just call her mom.”‘
It is a balancing act, admittedly, that is not perfect, but it is one she wouldn’t change.
“There’s a trade-off that comes with that,” she said. “Hopefully, in the end, all of that shakes out, but I like to think they’re learning lessons that I might not be able to teach them otherwise.”
So, what’s the next chapter in Murguia’s book? She is not quite sure. She is hopeful, though, that her service inspires others to live a life committed to the place they love.
“People always ask me– is it fun? What do you think? I always say, ‘I think it’s very necessary.'”
Mercy Murguia’s Nomination Letter:
“Commissioner Murguia represents Precinct Two in Amarillo, Texas which predominately includes the East and Northeast sections of the county. The Commissioner also represents sections of Downtown Amarillo. The entire precinct is within the city proper of Amarillo, Texas. She is a lifelong resident of the precinct. She has two children, Nathaniel and Jaicee. She attributes her devotion and work ethic to the county and precinct to her grandparents who were small business owners, Annie and Abe Garcia. Commissioner Murguia continues to strive for financial transparency, fiscal responsibility, and community engagement. Starting in 2017, she continues to serve as Chairwoman for the East Gateway Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone 2 (TIRZ 2). The TIRZ 2 is a $100 million-dollar development in East Amarillo. She also initiated the City/County Neighborhood Plan with a focus on addressing disadvantages area of the county/city. The plan is now in its 4th year and has worked in 2 of the 4 identified neighborhoods. Commission Murguia was awarded the 2018 Elected Officials Award from the American Planning Association – Texas Chapter for this initiative. The award is significant as it is nontraditional for a County Commissioner to be awarded due to the nature of the planning associations. Commissioner Murguia collaborated with local community leaders to bring back the Hispanic Heritage Luncheon now in its 4th year. In 2015, Co-founder of Breakfast in the Barrio, a monthly community meeting to discuss many issues facing our local community. In collaboration with county department heads and elected officials, Commissioner Murguia unveiled the new Potter County Annual Report which was highlighted in County Progress as an effort to continue transparency efforts. Potter County is in its fifth year as a designee from the Texas Comptroller Leadership Circle for its transparency efforts. Commissioner Murguia founded Potter County Government Day. An initiative to engage local area high school students into county government and provide a day in the life. With the support from the Potter County Commissioner’s Court, county elected officials and a county committee, the county is planning for the 6th Annual Potter County Government Day in 2019. She holds a Master of Business Administration from West Texas A&M University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude. She has over 22 years’ experience in the healthcare industry and business sector. She is a prior member of the Amarillo YMCA Board of Directors, United Way, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and Texas Leadership Women Board of Directors. She is a current member of Los Barrios de Amarillo Executive Committee, Texas Association of Counties Executive Leadership Council, Amarillo Local Government Corporation, National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and United Way Board of Directors. Commissioner Murguia has been recognized by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce – Top 20 under 40 Award Recipient, Distinguished Alumni of Caprock High School, Girl Scouts of Texas Oklahoma Plains Women of Distinction Connect Award, Texas Association of Mexican American Chamber of Commerce Woman of Leadership, Amarillo Business Women Leader, and the Public Elected Official of the Year by the National Association of Social Workers. She has also served as a keynote motivational speaker for middle and high school students. Invited & Attended the Texas Local Leaders White House Conference in Washington, DC. The conference allowed a discussion of local issues to the highest level of government. In particular, concern with accurate counting in the 2020 Census.”