United States Rep. Melanie Stansbury hosted “Coffee with your Congresswoman” in Corrales Tuesday to meet with and take questions from local constituents and give updates on what is happening in the 118th Congress.

Stansbury spoke to a crowd of nearly 100 people packed in Fancies Bakery and Modern Market, including Corrales Mayor James Fahey and New Mexico Rep. Kathleen Cates, for over 90 minutes.

Stansbury was re-elected to serve in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District in November. The district now includes Corrales, which is also where her mother lives.

Stansbury began the talk with her background in the village.

“I am so proud to represent New Mexico’s First Congressional District. And Corrales and Sandoval County are completely now inside our district, which hopefully you are all aware of that after redistricting last year,” Stansbury said. “Some of you may not know this, but I actually grew up partly in Corrales. I did fourth and fifth grade at Corrales Elementary, and my mom actually just lives three roads up from here. So from the eighth grade on, I lived in Corrales. So, for me, coming here is always a homecoming and always enjoy it, in part because I get to be on my old stomping grounds, but also because this is one of the communities that raised me and made me who I am today.”

Stansbury said the Corrales event kicked off her district work week, which has her hosting similar events this week throughout her district.

Stansbury then spoke about growing up in New Mexico, how her political career began based on her love of science.

“I always had such a strong passion for science, for natural resources, but also having grown up in a family that really struggled to make ends meet, a strong passion to figure out how does New Mexico build a sustainable economy for people that allows the people in our communities to live with dignity, to realize their full potential and dreams, to be who they are in the world and to build an economy that lasts for generations to come,” Stansbury said. “And so a lot of my work has always been at the intersection between those crossroads, between how do we lift up our working families and those who are struggling, help build a sustainable and long-term economy for our children. And how do we do it in a way that preserves our cultures, our identities, our language, our land and water, and who we are as New Mexicans?”

Stansbury began her career as science teacher. She has an undergraduate in natural sciences and went to graduate school for sociology and studied water rights issues.

“I’m a bonafide water nerd,” Stansbury said. “I’ve worked on water for over 20 years. And it was actually through that work that I ultimately got involved in politics because — I probably don’t have to tell anyone here — but water is very political in the Southwest and in New Mexico.”

Stansbury earned a Master of Science in development sociology with a minor in American Indian studies from Cornell University in 2007. She then returned to New Mexico to work as an ecology instructor at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science. After working with the administration center at the University of New Mexico and doing consulting with Sandia National Labs, Stansbury got the chance of a lifetime.

“In 2010, I had the amazing opportunity to go serve in the White House under President [Barack] Obama,” Stansbury said. “So I went to Washington, D.C., thinking I was going to be an intern for six months in the White House and ended up staying for seven years. I worked on climate issues. I helped work on the President’s Climate Action Plan. I worked on science issues, and I worked with tribes all over the United States.”

Stansbury worked as an aide to Sen. Maria Cantwell until returning to New Mexico in 2017. She was elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2018 and re-elected in 2020. In June 2021, she won a special election to replace Deb Haaland in the United States House when President Joe Biden chose Haaland his nominee for United States Secretary of the Interior.

“I stepped up and ran for this and that is how I have, over the course of five short years, gone from being a staffer on Capitol Hill, returning home and now I’m serving all of you in Congress as a native New Mexican.”

After listing her accolades and accomplishments, Stansbury gave the crowd an update on what is currently happening in Congress.

“Unfortunately, since December, I would say Congress has gotten a little chaotic,” Stansbury said. “The reality is that right now, the majority in the House is held by House Republicans. They themselves are very divided ideologically and along political lines, and are very much struggling to find common ground within their own caucus to pass bills. And to illustrate this point for any of you who watched the speaker election in January, you know, it took 15 votes; that hadn’t happened literally since the Civil War. And over the last several weeks, they tried to shut the U.S. economy down. They tried to pass appropriations bills this week, and then couldn’t even get them out of the Rules Committee to get them to the floor. And they can’t even pass basic legislation. So it’s very discouraging. It’s not good for democracy. I have very good bipartisan relationships with my colleagues. There are some folks who are a little challenging to work with them. But you know, our job is to continue to serve our communities.”

Stansbury then rattled some of the legislation she has worked to get passed, including passing “more water legislation out of the House of Representatives than any member of Congress in the U.S.”

She then thanked her staff for their hard work before taking questions from the crowd. After taking nearly a dozen questions, Stansbury spoke one-on-one with many people who attended the event.“We expect that in the coming year, Congress is going to continue to likely be dysfunctional,” Stansbury said. “Right now, we’ve got appropriations bills that need to get passed by the end of the fiscal year. There may be a government shutdown. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s out of our control at the present moment. We’re trying to get a farm bill passed, which included a lot of priorities for New Mexico. We don’t know if it’ll get done in time. But we are pushing and working our products out every single day, and we’re here to serve you.”