San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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INTERVIEW by BRAD ROLLINS

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San Marcos Mercury: You and your husband, Mike, are moving to Carlsbad, N.M. where Mike’s got a good job and you’re considering some offers. Does that kind of boil it down? 

Susan Narvaiz: That’s correct. Really the relationship started in October 2012 when I was invited to speak at a prayer breakfast. It was a 24-hours-on-the-ground-type event but there were a lot of connections that were apparent in that short visit [and] unfolded in recent months. It’s exciting.

Mercury: You met this couple at a prayer breakfast in Carlsbad last year and they kind of —

Narvaiz: — They kind of adopted me.

Mercury: — I was going to say ‘recruited.’

Narvaiz: — Joe Brininstool and Jill Holt. They hosted myself and Elisabeth [Darnell, Narvaiz’s former assistant] when I went out to Carlsbad for a mayor’s prayer breakfast. I understood that they hadn’t held it in 10 years and they believed it was important to hold it at the time they did in October 2012. … The man who called me kind of jokingly said they weren’t able to get Gov. [Mike] Huckabee and I was next on their list. Of course we laughed about that, but I felt honored to be thought of.

Mercury: Your decision kind of developed fast. Mike was offered a job in June?

Narvaiz: He was offered in June and accepted in July. Some of this came about because I reconnected with Joe and Jill. He is also a pilot and he flew Elisabeth and I up to Carlsbad for that breakfast. After [hotelier John Q.] Hammons passed away, I was reconnecting with pilots I know.

Mercury: You’ve already sold your house [in San Marcos], in what I understand was a a pretty remarkable time frame.

Narvaiz: We didn’t even have a chance to put it on the market. We were very quietly considering these opportunities that had been sent our way. Once Mike made the decision to take his position, I was thinking, ‘Do we sale our home? Do we lease it out?’ and I went and bought a ‘For Sale’ sign at Lowe’s and I was going to put it out. I actually had it in the yard on that Wednesday when it rained and then Thursday, it stormed again and the wind blew it down. Someone who I had told a week before, that Mike had accepted a job, and we would be moving. She texted me and asked, ‘What am I going to sell my house for?’ and when could someone come look at it. They came within an half hour and looked at it and made an offer. Here we are two and a half weeks later and we closed on the home today [Friday] and it’s their home now. And I have a few weeks to pack up  and move out.

Mercury: But you’re not actually going to be leaving for a few weeks, right? Because you have some job offers in New Mexico but you also still have [public affairs consulting] clients in Central Texas.

Narvaiz: I do have some clients that are in and around San Marcos and Austin and San Antonio so with the technology and so much of the things that I do, I can do virtually or schedule to come in when I need to. I’m doing that and I’ll continue to do that. I’ve been very blessed to have community of Carlsbad, the mayor and several people there feel I bring value and want me to be part of their communities and their organizations. I just think the possibilities are wide opened. We are talking, but we’ll just see how this unfolds.

Mercury: Mike has lived in San Marcos pretty much his whole life.

Narvaiz: Since he was 9 years old. His family came in and lived in Redwood and they worked and picked cotton and he attended schools there. He traveled a lot for Thermon [Manufacturing] for nearly 25 years he worked for Thermon. In that time frame, he traveled all over the year working on their heat tracing pipelines and helping with installing. Because he was bilingual, he was sent to countries where his language skills would be utilized. He’s worked in a manufacturing-type environment for many years. He was given a great opportunity with an electrical contractor [in Carlsbad]. He decided he wanted to pursue that.

This all happened so quickly that I just believe that God’s hand is all over this and has guided us as he always has in our lives.

This has been a really challenging year for us. At the beginning of the year, Mike had some respiratory issues and then my father was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and passed away in April.

Mercury: This was, of course, a few months after you ran for Congress and that didn’t work out.

Narvaiz: Yes, Congress in November 2012. A new grandbaby in December, grandbaby No. 10. Then in January, Mike was ill and in the hospital. Then, my dad. He came back up to San Marcos where I had the wonderful chance to care for him the last seven weeks of his life. Now this. And it was all back-to-back. Doesn’t really give you time to wonder or think about some things, which can be good.

Mercury: Do you consider this move permanent? Are you now going to be a citizen of the state of New Mexico?

Narvaiz: Well, my only permanent home is heaven. Everything else is temporary. [Laughs]. I always feel like you can be purposed multiple times in your life and I remain open to that. I love serving the public. And there are many opportunities in Carlsbad that I’m being urged to look into that would allow me to do that in some capacity.

I feel something awesome is about to occur. What that is or when that is, I can’t tell you. We don’t even have a new address yet. We have looked at some homes there and we found a couple that we really liked. We originally went up there thinking, ‘Well, we’ll just rent an apartment for a while.’ Well, the rental market there is really tight. There’s a lot of growth going on there with oil and gas and mining. There’s a beautiful river, the Pecos, there. There’s a lot of similarities [with San Marcos].

I remember when I moved to San Marcos in 1995. It was still kind of considered a sleeply little town. The university would kind of roll up in the summer and now it’s grown so much and flourishing. But there are some similarities to what I see in Carlsbad.

Mercury: You were  the mayor here for six year —

Narvaiz — Six and a half years. Don’t forget that last six months because we moved the election. And I was on the council for two years.

Mercury: What do you think about San Marcos as you’re leaving. What do you see as San Marcos’ challenges as we move forward?

Narvaiz: I think the city’s challenges remain the same as when I came. There’s not one vision for this city. There’s multiple visions. Sometimes as you would at home, if you’ve got multiple things going on you might not reach all of those goals. So I would say that people  need to come together and really try to get behind a vision and work toward that. Even if it is one vision first and, you know,  you get that one done and then add on the next. I think maybe that will be your challenge.

San Marcos is a wonderful place. It is beautiful. It has a great asset in the university and I think sometimes people do not understand the positive asset that Texas State is. With it, comes challenge but so does every good thing. Every great thing sometime comes at the end of a painful journey. But it’s worth it and I see San Marcos still sits as I always said, at the sweet spot on the corridor. If it wants to be, San Marcos can be the major influencer of what happens in the center of this great state.

Mercury: Are you looking forward to just a fresh start? San Marcos politics are truly brutal and one accumulates enemies along the way. Do you see this as just a way to push the reset button?

Narvaiz: I don’t really look at it that way. I think of it is the continuation of a wonderful journey. I think people think you get to go somewhere new; I just think of it as building. I’m always about building upon something and I think that’s what I see this as. It’s building upon what I might know, what I might have learned, what I might bring to the situation. For that, I’m excited.

You always have opposing views. If you didn’t you wouldn’t be doing anything. I think that’s a true statement. If you don’t have somebody mad at you, you haven’t really done your job. There will probably be some people so excited that I’m leaving but the fact is, when I left the mayor’s office, I did leave. I understood that it was my job while I was elected to do it. When I chose not to run again, you should let those who come after you take that opportunity to take it in the direction that they think the citizens elected them to do. To me, I’ve already left a lot of that behind when I decided not to run for a fourth term.

[Then] I ran for Congress. It was an awesome experience it expanded my network in ways I couldn’t imagine. I learned so much more. Not only about San Marcos and it’s people and what they wanted in an elected official but also up and down the corridor. The value of what I learned through that, I’m going to take to Carlsbad now.

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