Outside Roadrunner Emporium, 928 New York Avenue in Alamogordo, are street signs, rotating window decorations that included a to Alamogordo High School sports and has since changed to a Día de los Muertos theme.
Inside the store is a trove of arts and crafts made by local artisans, relics of a history of the not too distant past and classrooms to teach and inspire the next round of the community’s artists.
Currently, the decor is for Día de los Muertos. Skeletons alongside paintings, soaps, books and antique bank safes among other things such as clothing, lamps and more.
Roadrunner Emporium is under the management of authors Rene Sepulveda and Chris Edwards.
“We believe in the history of the building, we’re refurbishing the building trying to showcase the history that’s here,” Edwards said. “We’re trying to not only become an art gallery but a center for culture for Alamogordo.”
Sepulveda and Edwards wrote two books about Alamogordo High School sports including “Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Years” and “Coaches Bob and Marilyn Sepulveda with Coach Gary Hveem.”
Roadrunner Emporium is located in the original location of the First National Bank of Alamogordo which was chartered in 1900 and closed during The Great Depression of the 1930s.
The safes the bank used were custom-built in Cleveland. Ohio with the locking mechanism from Hartford, Connecticut.
“It still operates today, if you can believe it, that was created in 1898,” Edwards said. “The vault was assembled in 1900, brought here by rail at a cost of $36,000. Which would be about $1.2 million in today’s dollars. Then the bank was created.”
It was not affiliated with the current First National Bank of Alamogordo which was chartered in 1954, Edwards said.
Aside from the historical essence of the building, Roadrunner Emporium also holds classes and events.
This week there is a book signing and discussion with a couple of local authors and their illustrator and a Halloween Spooktacular from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Oct. 30 where Roadrunner Emporium has teamed up with the newly established MainStreet Entertainment, 928 New York Avenue.
MainStreet Entertainment is hosting Nightmare on Main Street which runs from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. on Oct. 30.
Josette Herrell wrote “Timmy’s Big Adventure” and Barbara “BJ” Oquist wrote “Farmer Jon’s Very Special Team” and their illustrator Diana Sill will be at Roadrunner Emporium Oct. 30.
Nicole Maxwell can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, by phone at 575-415-6605 or on Twitter at @nicmaxreporter.
Alamogordo is in the middle of early voting for multiple positions within the municipal government. AlamogordoTownNews.com issued 26 questions to the two mayoral candidates and received their responses. A few questions of the 26 were questions around campaign finances and personal finances related to the salary of commissioners and the office of the mayor.
The Founding Fathers never intended a permanent political class controlled by the wealthy and never intended for there to be career politicians. Our government was set up for citizen statesmen, not for career politicians at every level be it city or county commission, mayor, or congress person.
The idea was “citizen statesmen.” Our founding fathers wanted honorable people of common origins to do their duty and serve their city, county, state, or country for a limited time, then step aside and go back to their farms or businesses and let others serve in their place. The design was not for careers in politics. No matter how good the man or woman, as terms pass and decades tally, they become beholden to the powers that perpetuate them.
So, in that vein of thinking in our 26 questions we asked the two mayoral candidates question number 23.” Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?”
The responses were almost comical, if one really reads into them, and one should really read and digest the candidate responses.
A question for the public is this? Non-profit organizations have oversight by an appointed board and operate on a volunteer basis (without pay) to ensure the non-profit is managed in the best interest of the agencies mission. Board members are not employees of the agency, they have the same oversite responsibilities of that agency as the city commission and mayors’ office has of the budget and enforcement actions of city government.
Why do we not, hold the positions of part time politicians, to the same principle?
Do we get better leadership at the city commission level and the office of mayor by paying for it?
Is the leadership of Alamogordo better than the leadership that works for free of the best local non-profit organization? Think about that for a moment?
The city budget is about a $50 to $60 Million dollars and the pay to the commission is little in comparison to the overall budget. However, pay, any pay does lead to career politicians. The sitting commissioners get $500.00 a month. The mayor gets $800.00 a month in salary.
The requirement is to attend 2 commission meetings per month.
Wonder what the hourly wage of our potential mayor would be? Now let us make some presumptions for thoughts to ponder…
Let’s divide two meetings, an average of 3 hours a meeting and let’s say each candidate puts in 3 hours of preparation and reading before each meeting, soooo… about, 12 hours a month in direct services.
Now of course the commissioners and the mayor answer email on occasion and take constituent phone calls.
We will make another presumption based on our experience in government service in a city many times the size of Alamogordo. We doubt that constituent dialog is a daily occurrence given the size of Alamogordo, so let’s suppose they devote 8 hours a week to constituent services that 24 hours a month.
Total constituents work we will estimate at about 36 hours a month. (Of course, each candidate will more than likely defend their work suggesting they work countless hours for constituents and the city of Alamogordo.} The constituents know the truth!
For the mayor that would be an average of about $22.00 an hour or double the minimum wage or average wage for a Wal-Mart employee, restaurant worker or hotel worker in Alamogordo. Per the US Census and Wikipedia, males in Alamogordo have a median income of $28,163 versus $18,860 for females. The per capita income for the city was $14,662. So, the pay inequity of women becomes more obvious as women per capita in Alamogordo make about $9.00 and hour. So, the mayoral candidate, elected will be making 2 times the average per capita income of their constituents under this presumptive scenario.
There again, what happened to service for one’s community? Most candidates running for an election are using other people’s money or “campaign donations”, then the candidate gets paid for the job. What a deal! What other job in American does one use other people’s money to campaign for and profit from? Only a career politician.
We are not advocating for no pay for political leadership; however, we do wonder if pay were taken out of the equation of politics, what kind of leadership would we then have? If the political system was held to similar oversight as non-profits would the results be what one sees today or better? A thought to ponder….
The responses to the question that we …
AlamogordoTownNews.com – “Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?”
Susan Payne Response:“This question is full of presumptions. I assure you I don’t really get a paycheck for this position, but I am grateful for the medical and dental insurance that my paycheck goes toward even if it’s not enough to cover all of it.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – The candidate gets a paycheck per the city budget, so the answer is rather misleading. Rather the candidate spends her money on medical or dental insurance is irrelevant to the question. It is income and she, per her answer “is spending it on insurance.” According to the US Census 6.9% or about 2200 residents of Alamogordo don’t have insurance, thus the “medical and dental insurance that candidate Payne’s paycheck goes to” affords her coverage that about 2200 of her constituents can’t afford to maintain. Thus, yes candidate Payne does receive a payment from the city of Alamogordo and based on her answer she
Nadia Sikes Response: “My job as a commissioner has been FULL-TIME. I spend all my time working for the betterment of our community and if anything, would support an ordinance to pay our Mayor and Commissioners more fairly.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com- Fact Check – We cannot substantiate candidate Sikes response that her job as commissioner has been “full time.” AlamogordoTownNews.com believes both candidates spend much of their time for the betterment of their community. Givin their resume of community service we believe that to be a fact, that they each work toward their vision of betterment to the community.
The question however is, are they doing in while in service in their official roles as government leaders, or a private citizen or as a leader of a non-profit? Only they know what is in their heart, and only you the voter can interpret their actions.
Ms. Sikes response that she would support and ordinance to pay the mayor and the commissioners “more fairly” is concerning. What is “more fair” is a question? And since the topic of “fairer” pay was raised, how do the candidates stand on the minimum wage for city staff? Are the entry level minimum wages paid “fairly’ based on their contribution to the city? Who is of more value the lifeguard making minimum wage protecting the drowning child at the city owned pool or the mayor? You decide?
AlamogordoTownNews.com ratesboth candidates answer to the question of pay for the mayors’ office a failure, the responses don’t represent the Christian values of “selfless service to one’s community” one would expect for a small town of 31,384 constituents.
Along the vein of pay, the question then becomes; are we as citizens getting the government, we pay these candidates to provide us? Both are sitting commissioners, and both have the power to initiate dialog, craft proposed ordinances and lead the city via legislation.
So, are we getting the legislative progress we deserve in the city of Alamogordo to elevate one of these two individuals to the level of mayor and spokesperson for the city of Alamogordo? Along that line we asked the following question
AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed…
Nadia SikesResponse: “Proudest of my work with Code Enforcement, with improvements to our green spaces and the Bark Park, Alamogordo Mainstreet and ZIA, our public transportation, our library. Before I initiated the ordinance to require campaign reporting on the City level, there was NO reporting.
AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – the question was what three pieces of legislation, ordinances or initiatives did you personally sponsor that were focused on jobs or education. Based on the response it would appear the direct answer is zero however Ms. Sikes did initiate a very important piece of legislation that would follow under the sunshine laws to require public reporting of campaign contribution. We too, agree that is an important piece of legislation to have initiated and are happy that was successfully passed by the full commission.
We ask both candidates to please provide the AlamogordoTownNews.com a direct copy of your last campaign filing? We could request one via the open records act and will do so if the candidates don’t provide us such information, but it would be timelier and more considerate if each candidate would email the AlamogordoTownNews.com a copy of their most recent filing prior to election day for publication.
Susan Payne Response: “The city does not specifically have any ordinances that would fall into either of these categories. HOWEVER I was heavily involved in reworking our LEDA ordinance which focuses on job creation. In addition, I sit on the Otero County Economic Development Board and focus allot of time on Job and business creation.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com Fact Check – the question was answered by Ms. Payne and the answer is indeed interesting that the city “does not have any ordinances that fall into the category of job creation or education.” Ordinances that may be true, but initiatives or legislative actions? It does appear the commission has acted in relation to jobs and education.
The city during the tenure of both commissioners has acted or initiatives on job creation at some point. Incentives or accommodations by the city were given to the Medlin Ramps leadership with a commitment of so many jobs to be created. The commission under Ms. Payne passed a “resolution” recently related to schools as a statement on school polices by the state. Thus, the board and Ms. Payne has acted related to jobs and education, yet both candidates seem to have skimmed over their actions in their responses.
What other actions have the candidates taken and skimmed over?
An informed citizen is important as the role of the mayor and the commission is to work on behalf of Alamogordo’s citizens. Our role as citizens is to be informed, educated, and ensure our local governmental leadership is responsive to our local community needs. Learn, ask questions act, and get involved.
Both candidates have a very solid resume of service to the community and on the level of service and passion for the community both certainly have passion and a commitment to service.
The question we need to ask ourselves is which candidate has the temperament of collaboration and is the candidate to best represent the city of Alamogordo with the state and national leadership to help secure matching state and federal funds for public works projects, major street, and highway repairs, for business development and revitalization.
Which candidate has the stage presence, to collaborate with the powers of other regional cities, the county, state, and federal leadership and represent the bests interests in Alamogordo?
Vote, the future of Alamogordo is decided by your vote.
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AlamogordoTownNews.com polled our readers and came up with a list of questions for each of the Mayoral candidates of Alamogordo.
We submitted questions to all three candidates. Alamogordo resident Melissa Gayle Laperuta registered with the Secretary of States office to run for the office of mayor yet she has not responded to a single media request for information mailed to the email registered with the secretary of state to date.
Others within political circles have commented, she pulled out, as her run would place Susan Payne’s chances at risk by splitting the conservative vote. Rather that is fact or speculation, at this time we cannot prove nor disapprove. The fact is she, has registered with the secretary of state, and there has been radio silence every since.
We also sent requests to the other two candidates for biographies and for a response to the multiple questions we sent.
The first to respond was Susan Payne telling us she would get information to us soon. Then on September 10th she followed up with us to say…
From: Susan L Payne Date: September 10, 2021 at 2:31:52 PM MDT To: Chris Edwards Subject:Re: Candidates for Mayor in their own words
“I wanted to touch base and let you know I haven’t forgot about you. I went on a C planned vacation and while there the organization I operate shared to be the hub for donations for the refugees. Needless to say since I’ve been back I’ve been swamped. I’m planning on shooting you out an email this weekend. I hope this will work and again, I apologize. Susan
We then went into silence, but got an email on September 29th as a response, after we prompted again for an update…
On Sep 29, 2021, at 7:43 AM, Susan L Payne wrote:
Good Morning, I have been in quarantine for three past 12 days as I was really sick. Yesterday was my first day back to work in as many days and I’m moving very slow. I’m not sure what event I’m attending out of district but I’m sure it’s just not clicking with me. Along with your extremely long list of questions I also received a series of questions from the Daily news. If I attempt to do them all I will not make either deadline. Since Nicole only had 10 and they came first, I’m working on those now and then will attempt to answer yours. In terms of the invite let me speak with my team and see if that would work for my schedule. Have you received any feedback from other candidates or did you only send this to me? Sorry, you will just have to be patient with me I’ve missed allot of work and allot of valuable time and I now need to get caught up. Susan
We appreciate the candidate dialog and will continue to wait for a response from candidate Payne, and when we do receive, we will release her response as we are doing so for candidate Sikes.
The same questions were sent to all 3 candidates and Mrs. Sikes responses are below…
Candidate Questionnaire Otero/Alamogordo Municipal Elections Nadia Sikes
1. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.
Nadia Sikes Response: “Bio previously provided.”
2. AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you have held office please provide 3 pieces of legislation, ordinances, or initiatives that you personally sponsored that were focused on jobs or education. Please provide the outcomes to the legislation since passed…
Nadia Sikes Response:“Legislation/Ordinances/Initiatives personally sponsored: When I first became a Commissioner, I realized the importance of the Commission as a TEAM. It truly does not matter who drives an idea and if the ordinance passes, we are all responsible. I have initiated shortening the time in which fireworks can be set off, allowing back-yard bee keeping, providing funding for public transportation. The Commission’s work with OCEDC and providing LEDA funding has focused on jobs.”
3. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off?
Nadia SikesResponse: “Proudest of my work with Code Enforcement, with improvements to our green spaces and the Bark Park, Alamogordo Mainstreet and ZIA, our public transportation, our library. Before I initiated the ordinance to require campaign reporting on the City level, there was NO reporting.“
4. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why are you running for office?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I have been a City Commissioner for ten years – enjoying every meeting, every event, and every constituent conversation. I have learned a lot about city government and believe that the last ten years has prepared me to take on more responsibility, a larger role in the City.”
5. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is your vision for the office you seek?
Nadia Sikes Response: “The Mayor of Alamogordo has the same and equal power as each of the City Commissioners. The Mayor has, in addition, the role of spokesperson, the face of the Commission. My vision: to increase constituent interaction and communication.”
6. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?
Nadia Sikes Response: “ More open conversation, more constituent input and a friendlier, easier place to do business. I truly believe we do well but there is some room for improvement.”
7. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you visited New York Avenue and shopped or spoke in person with the shop owners of that business district? Specifically what shops and when?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I am an active participant of everything Alamogordo Mainstreet.”
8. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What do you view as the biggest opportunity and how you can assist with that opportunity for business growth in the New York Avenue business corridor?
Nadia Sikes Response: “By actively supporting Alamogordo Mainstreet, their Great Blocks initiative and making sure the City continues their financial support.”
9. When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I have no children and have never attended a High School Sporting event.”
10. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I have attended the band events, the graduation ceremonies and presented many scholarships over the years. I have been a judge in the elementary school spelling contests.”
11. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center?
Nadia Sikes Response: “Prior to the Covid pandemic, I attended most Flickinger events. The most recent event was the premier of the Atomic Bomb Documentary.”
12. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I attend ribbon cuttings, shop at our retail stores, and eat at our restaurants. I make it a point to maintain a POSITIVE attitude about our businesses. I am responsible for the listing of new businesses that appear each month in the City’s Profile – the publication accompanying 13,200 water bills. Each month the new businesses and renewing businesses are listed with their phone numbers. I also enjoy promoting the businesses, new or not so new, on my radio shows.”
13. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to improve upon the blight of abandoned homes and derelict businesses in Alamogordo or Otero County in the last 4 years?
Nadia Sikes Response: “My efforts resulted in the demolishing of the Sahara Apartments and the cleaning up of the Tinsley Trailer Park. Sahara Apartments took years, Tinsley is still in process.”
14. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Where do you stand on the Recall of Couy Griffin and why?
Nadia Sikes Response: “I find Couy Griffin’s antics/behavior to be an embarrassment to our county. My limited, personal experience with him has shown him to be a liar, a grand-stander, a chauvinist and a misguided fool.”
15. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Where do you stand on the exposed broken sewer line issues and amending the law so the city would be responsible from the sidewalk to the street?
Nadia Sikes Response: “According to our City Manager, our Facilities Maintenance personnel and everything I have read, our ordinances with regard to sewer lines are similar to and mirror the ordinances of most municipalities of our size. I would be open to discussion regarding this issue.”
16.AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?
Nadia Sikes Response: “See item 12 – I attend ribbon cuttings, shop at our retail stores, and eat at our restaurants. I make it a point to maintain a POSITIVE attitude about our businesses. I am responsible for the listing of new businesses that appear each month in the City’s Profile – the publication accompanying 13,200 water bills. Each month the new businesses and renewing businesses are listed with their phone numbers. I also enjoy promoting the businesses, new or not so new, on my radio shows.”
17.AlamogordoTownNews.com – Name the top 5 locally owned businesses that you believe best represent the image you would like to see of Alamogordo going forward.
Nadia Sikes Response: “NO Comment”
18. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?
Nadia Sikes Response: “Yes. I am a member of Otero Artspace, I promote arts events on my radio shows, and I attend every art event I know about. I have recently been endorsed by Equality New Mexico, highlighting my dedication and commitment to diversity.”
19.What outreach have you done to build bridges of understanding and collaboration between people of color, the LBGTQ community and local government and the business community?
Nadia Sikes Response: “See my bio. Working with the NAACP, LULAC, Equality NM, etc., I have attended meetings, initiated presentations and workshops to build bridges and understanding.”
20. AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you funding your campaign?
Nadia Sikes Response: “My campaign is funded by me and with donations from my supporters.”
21. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?
Nadia Sikes Response: “Not only do I support financial reporting, I initiated an ordinance on the City level to require campaign finance reporting. There was NONE prior to my ordinance.”
22. Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue in mid-October?
Nadia Sikes Response: “It would have to be non-partisan and Covid compliant.
23. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Given the job is a part time job and one of public service, would you be willing to accept the position if elected for NO pay and dedicate the public check each month to a local community organization rotating the donation monthly?
Nadia Sikes Response: “My job as a Commissioner has been FULL-TIME. I spend all my time working for the betterment of our community and if anything, would support an ordinance to pay our Mayor and Commissioners more fairly.”
24. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support moving the farmers market to New York Avenue and amending city ordinances to allow weekly events and street fairs?
Nadia Sikes Response: “A few years ago I worked with the Farmers Market folks and actually had the Farmers Market move downtown – moving it from Alameda Park to New York Avenue. I thought it a brilliant way to promote New York Avenue and the downtown businesses. I love the downtown street fairs. The City was enthusiastic about it as well. Some of the downtown businesses did not like it and the market moved back to Alameda Park.”
(AlamogordoTownNews.com comment, Who? Are those businesses even open at night and early morning? This should be revisited. As an anchor business the way the ordinance is written is what allowed this travesty to the investment happening by new business owners and those actual successful businesses on the street and needs to be revisited.)
25. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you support the growth of more bars, restaurants, galleries, and entertainment venues in Alamogordo’s New York Avenue area? What will you do personally to support growth and revitalization of the corridor?
Nadia Sikes Response: “All growth is good and I would support it!”
26. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?
Nadia Sikes Response: “The opportunity to make us LOOK BETTER! The opportunity to make our green spaces look better, our downtown area look better, our outlooks BE better. We are truly on the threshold of more positivity and, as cheesy as it sounds, we are on the threshold of enlightenment. I want to be a part of our transition!”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – we appreciate the feedback and the participation of candidate Sikes in the process of informing the voters of her views. An educated voter is better for all of the community.
We anxiously await the response from the other candidate and will post her responses upon receipt of it and her updated biography, once provided.
With any set of questions responses bring more questions for specifics in details, examples of progress and a need for more information. Generalized answers or incomplete responses, always lead to suspicion and a feeling of political double speak, but that seems to be the art of politics these days.
We hope this race and whoever the winner of the race is, stays committed to the principles of non-partisan behaviors, shows compassion and empathy, is timely and accepts the role as their primary focus to truly represent the broad diversity of Alamogordo with tact and diplomacy.
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Mayoral Candidate, District 2 Commissioner and presently the Mayor Pro tempore, Nadia Sikes was the first of the mayoral candidates to provide a resume and answer the candidate questionnaire sent to the mayoral candidates for the upcoming Alamogordo Municipal election.
The Latin term “pro tempore” means “for the time being,” so the title of mayor pro tempore which is the secondary title of District 2 Commissioner Nadia Sikes wears on occasion. Basically, if the Mayor is out of town, sick, or simply unavailable or unable to preside and run the city commission meetings or appear on behalf of the city Nadia Sikes serves as the Mayor Pro tempore or as the “place-holder” in Mayor Boss’s absence.
Ballots for this upcoming municipal election will be mailed out soon and early voting begins on October 5th, 2021 for the November election.
Getting to know the candidates is the responsibility of every able bodies citizen. Patriotism includes informed decision making and active participation in the election process.
AlamogordoTownNews.com has sent questions to the candidates and invited the candidates to host a meet and greet during the month of October. Nadia Sikes has been the first of the candidates for mayor to complete our request.
This article is an outline of her resume as presented by her as her qualifications for the position of Mayor of Alamogordo.
Nadia Sikes moved to Alamogordo 17 years ago when her husband, Aaron, was stationed at Holloman Air Force Base. Her career included marketing and sales with IBM, marketing for skilled nursing facilities and working for the National Public Radio stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Wichita Falls, Texas.
Community involvement is important to her and she says her involvement enables her to ‘keep my finger on the pulse of the community’ and better understand the needs of Alamogordo.
Her Community involvement per her and outlined in her public profile includes…
Alamogordo City Commission, District 2, since 2012
Member, Chamber of Commerce Transportation Committee
Member, GCRMC Community Advisory Committee
Member, LULAC Council 8095
Member, Otero County Community Health Council
Member, Prescription Drug Overdose Committee
Member, Southern NM Public Lands Alliance
Member, ZIA Board
Member, Secretary, COPE (Center of Protective Environment) Board
Patron Board Member, KRWG Public Radio/TV
President, Friends of the Library
Voting Member, Otero County Juvenile Justice Board
Voting Member, Southeastern NM Economic Development District
Transportation Lead with 100% Otero
Food Insecurity Co-Lead with 100% Otero
Volunteer each Wednesday with the Otero Hunger Coalition for the curbside meal
She suggests that “Our community is full of dynamic, talented, busy people – people involved in community projects, non-profit organizations, companies, agencies, and institutions – people who make our community such an interesting and great place to live. Every Monday I host a two-hour radio show “Community Corner” on KRSY AM 1230, in which I get to highlight the personalities and events in and around our community. On Wednesday, I host “The Wednesday Show” on KRSY AM 1230 as well. I enjoy our beautiful mountain scenery, working in my yard, keeping up with politics and news and spending time with my husband and our two dogs, Max, and Jaxson.”
Mayor Pro tempore Sikes responses to the multiple candidate questions will be released in a separate article.
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While a small group of vocal locals are myopically (without thinking about anything outside your own situation) or short sightedly focused on not wearing masks or fighting against vaccines a real undercurrent of change is happening, and this vocal group needs to step back and look at the bigger world of issues that are about to it taxpayers on the horizon. This is not some esoteric idea from California but being tested not too far from here in New Mexico.
At least two New Mexico cities – Las Cruces and Santa Fe – are already considering, or moving forward with, targeted guaranteed basic income pilot projects
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted state and federal governments to send direct payments to citizens and is now fast tracking the dialog around a Basic Universal Income that in the past was considered a fringe idea. The newest debate on the horizon could center on guaranteed basic income, a policy that provides low-income residents with regular financial payments.
In our country today, 40% of earners make $20K or less a year. What’s even more shocking is that 40% of earners actually make less than the 1968 minimum wage.
In Portland Maine, for example, the poverty wage for 1 adult with 2 children is $9 per hour. The state’s minimum wage is $10 and the living wage is estimated to be at approximately $29 per hour. The Personal Care and Service industries in Maine, which represents a large part of unskilled employment, is at or below the poverty level at an average of $23,288 annual income for an adult with 2 children. The required annual income for this demographic is estimated to be $59,101 before taxes.
Maine is not alone. Almost every area of the United States shows that workers are earning well below what is considered a livable wage.
MIT Defines a living wage via its living wage index for New Mexico as 28.65 an hour for a single adult with a child. Their living wage calculator methodology is the hourly rate that an individual in a household must earn to support his or herself and their family. The assumption is the sole provider is working full-time (2080 hours per year). The tool provides information for individuals, and households with one or two working adults and zero to three children. In the case of households with two working adults, all values are per working adult, single or in a family unless otherwise noted.
The state minimum wage is the same for all individuals, regardless of how many dependents they may have. Data are updated annually, in the first quarter of the new year. State minimum wages are determined based on the posted value of the minimum wage as of January one of the coming year (National Conference of State Legislatures, 2019). The poverty rate reflects a person’s gross annual income. We have converted it to an hourly wage for the sake of comparison.
An Explanation of a VESTED Economy and how everyone earns a livable wage…
In a vested economy, everyone earns a livable wage. No one is left behind. No one is underpaid. The technical explanation is that a vested economy is one in which the market surplus is distributed to the individual laborers who produce the surplus through an equitable process. Individuals become vested by successfully completing one or more requirements. For example, someone can be vested by completing an educational requirement or serving in the military. The non-technical explanation is that vested economics provides a metaphorical sponge for absorbing an economy’s excess supply of goods and services and a distribution mechanism called National Vesting for apportioning that excess back to its producers in an equitable manner. In other words, no one has to earn a poverty wage ever again.
The economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted some countries to send direct payments to citizens and is now fast tracking the dialog around a Basic Universal Income that in the past was considered a fringe idea.
In an attempt to put low-income workers on more solid financial footing, New Mexico lawmakers in recent years have approved a minimum wage increase and a paid sick leave requirement, among other policies.
Several legislators said they’re planning to watch the local-level efforts play out before possibly moving forward with a statewide proposal.
Santa Fe’s guaranteed basic income pilot program that will be funded by a national advocacy group as a “stability stipend.” It will provide 100 people under age 30 who have children and are attending Santa Fe Community College with monthly payments of at least $400.
Several other cities nationwide are also moving forward with similar programs that follow on the heels of Stockton, California, which provided 125 low-income people with $500 a month for two years.
New Mexico has long struggled with high poverty rates and more than 926,000 state residents – or about 44% of the state’s total population – were enrolled in Medicaid as of May.
While state revenue levels have been on the upswing since plummeting at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing just 10% of those residents with $100 monthly financial payments would cost roughly $111 million annually. But there could be different types of funding mechanisms available if New Mexico were to pursue such a policy, as Alaska has long offered its full-time residents an annual dividend based on the investment earnings on mineral royalties. The dividend amount for 2020 was $992 per person.
The Albuquerque Journal reported:
“Las Cruces City Councilor Johana Bencomo, who is leading the push for a basic income program in the southern New Mexico city, described the traditional approach to addressing poverty as “patronizing and patriarchal,” and said cash payments allow recipients to use the money as they deem fit.
“I do believe that poverty is a policy choice,” said Bencomo, who is also executive director of a nonprofit group that advocates for immigrant and worker rights.
She also cited the impact of cash assistance programs funded by federal relief dollars during the pandemic, which included one-time payments of $750 for those who didn’t qualify for a federal stimulus check.”
During the presidential run Andrew Yang the Silicon Valley Billionaire brought the topic forward as a credible discussion siting the transition of business to a technology driven economy that he believes will displace up to 24% of the population from present employment types. Times and jobs are changing and while we are myopic in our arguments on masks, vaccines and the school system approach the rest of the world is moving forward in ways that could leave Otero County in the dustbowl of poverty unless elected leaders begin recruiting tourism, cultural arts and technology industries to the area to compete.
With a solid business base of livable wage employment, a Universal Basic Income policy is a non-starter. However in areas of poverty without employment opportunities for livable wages or where there is huge income inequity with a shrinking middle class the theory takes hold and government is forced into seeking alternatives or action.
The action voters need to demand now is that the city commissioners and county commissioners partner with the state and federal governments and do real business recruitment and put ideological social issues aside and drive business opportunity. November 2nd several commissioner seats and the mayors office will be on the ballot.
Consider this when voting. Register and get out and participate. Let your voice be heard at the ballot box.
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AlamogordoTownNews.com The Couy Griffin Interview…
AlamogordoTownNews.com as a community citizen-based publication is actively engaged in digging deeper into stories, business interests and the movers and shakers of the Alamogordo community via in depth researched coverage and dialog rather than the lightweight coverage of the local corporate owned news entities.
AlamogordoTownNews.com attempts to hear and publish different sides of issues and to ensure a diverse population of voices are heard. As such we will report a variety of viewpoints, some we agree with, some we find distasteful. We will always attempt to present facts and we will limit perceived propaganda and if facts are in question, we will question them. Individuals in the public domain of politics and entertainment that live a very public life have a higher standard of what is perceived as slanderous against them and many times at the local political level that is a lesson not at first understood nor recognized.
Fact based; science-based reality checked dialog is the foundation of our reporting on hard stories. Political stories can at times get shaded with opinion of those being interviewed. In this interview we have attempted to be unbiased and fair in allowing Mr. Griffin an open platform and quoting him verbatim without edit excepting for a few grammatical edits in punctuation.
We have published many articles related to the recall effort of Couy Griffin that have been presented by the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin and others via its variety of spokespersons, directly affiliated and not affiliated with the effort.
As such the editorial board of the AlamogordoTownNews.com site felt it appropriate to reach out to Mr. Griffin and get his thoughts concerning the recall, but equally important we have presented the question to many local political leaders of, what they have done while in office to improve the lives of the people they represent?
As we enter the municipal elections period, we will press those elected and those seeking elected office on what, if anything, they have accomplished to better the lives of their constituents. We want hard concrete facts not talking points to present to the electorate. We will not always get them as that is the nature of political dialog.
What have they achieved that benefits the citizens, the business community, the level of education and poverty in the area? Those are the hard questions each voter should ask prior to casting a vote. Few elected leaders like these questions when pressed. Accountability of local political leaders seems to be lacking by a complacent citizenry within Alamogordo and Otero County when looking at low voter turnout in relation to local elections.
One gets the government one deserves by participation, and one does indeed get the government one deserves by a lack of participation. Those at the table do indeed decide, as Chez Sanchez reminds Otero County Citizens in his blog posts, and that principle we do indeed, agree.
Otero County seems to have one party that is driving the dialog and much of that dialog seems to be driven from extreme positions within that party, from the mask mandate in public schools to overall public health and immigration; the alternative parties and independent point of view is missing in much public dialog and debate within Otero County. Are there other voices and other active parties? If so lets hear from them on the many issues before the city and county.
The silent majority of Alamogordo and Otero County voters are just that, mostly silent, and as such the evolution and election of individuals such as Congresswoman Yvette Herrell and the election of the commissioner Couy Griffin is the result of that silence and complacency by those in the silent middle or those more moderate in thinking within all parties.
The perception by the public of extremist positions, controversial rants, and allegations of mishandling the public trust is what appears to have led to the recall effort of Couy Griffin.
Mr. Griffin has been controversial at best, some would say damaging to the reputation of the county at worst.
That is not for us to decide within the context of this article. The context of this article is to hear from Couy Griffin himself and then as the recall effort proceeds, you, the educated and informed voter within his district will decide his outcome and the outcome of the future of the Otero County politics of the future.
This recall effort is historic for the county and eyes all over New Mexico and the nation are watching this effort. Mr. Griffin is certainly feeling pressure based upon our dialog with him. What proceeds is a series of questions and his response to each.
We offer no opinion but just present the dialog and you the reader can consider the responses…
The Couy Griffin Interview of August 7, 2021…
We began the dialog with Mr. Griffin in wanting to know a bit about his past and his time in France. How did he end up there and did he enjoy his life there, and then we proceeded into his role as an elected official, Cowboys for Trump, and the recall?
AlamogordTownNews.com – How long did you live in France and how did you end up there?
Couy Griffin Response – “I attended Cochise College in Douglas Arizona. I won the region in bull riding competition as a freshman and competed at the college national finals at Bozeman, Montana. I moved to Paris in 98’ and returned to the states in 2003.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – It sounds exotic for a cowboy from New Mexico to end up in France. Tell us about your history and how you ended up in France working at Disney?
Couy Griffin Response – “I attended college on a rodeo scholarship where I competed as a bull rider. I went to school with a friend who grew up on the Navajo Reservation and saw an ad where they were looking for Native American Indians to perform in the show. He responded, was hired, and plugged me to the casting director to play the role of a cowboy in the show.
It was an amazing experience and truly a world class show. It was a scripted show that starred Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull and Cowboys and Indians from across the states. My roles were trick riding, trick roping, driving the stagecoach and a little bit of acting.
The show was very well received by the European guests. There were two shows a night that seated around 1.200 people a show where the guests enjoyed a full BBQ Menu and all the beer they cared to drink. It was a world class show on every front.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Did you enjoy the life overseas?
Couy Griffin Response – “I truly enjoyed living in Paris. I bought a condo just near the golf course and had a wonderful group of the most diverse friends a person could have. Friends from all over the world. I was able to travel to most of the Western European countries and was truly blessed to see more of the world. During the end of my stay, it got a little harder to live in France with the political tension between France, the US, and the mess in Iraq. All the French media could do is talk about “the cowboy” George W. Bush. And with me being an actual cowboy living in Paris you could imagine the negative attention and environment I sometimes landed in. “
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Would you do it again?
Couy Griffin Response – “I would absolutely love to be involved in another type of Wild West show again one day. I created and produced a few shows after moving back to the states. One of which was here in Alamogordo at the Otero County Fair. I have tremendous confidence in my ability to produce a show, but I lack in the financial backing and organizational ability to actually put one on. There is so much that goes into production but Lord willing and by God’s grace I hope that one day it will happen. To answer your question “if I’d go back” I’d say no. I’d rather take my talent and the learned experience and move forward but I’d definitely love to be involved again one day.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you personally impacted by the recall effort?
Couy Griffin Response – “This recall effort has been by far one of the most difficult seasons in my life. The reason being is because I have fallen victim to the lies and slander propagated by those involved as well as the local media who give them their platform. When I drive thru town with my 6-year-old son and see the signs and booths set up promoting this recall it just makes me feel horrible. With my social media being shut down I now have no platform to defend myself against these lies. In today’s world you can be tried, convicted, and sentenced thru social media and local media without being given any kind of right to respond.
When my hearing was scheduled to address the allegations in this recall the state of NM scheduled this hearing on the same day of my monthly commission meeting. I was faced with either attending the commission meeting and upholding my oath to office or going to defend myself against the recall. I filed a motion of continuance stating that my right to due process was being infringed upon and the District Judge Manuel Arrieta (a Bill Richardson appointed judge) denied that motion. Therefore, they had this hearing to decide my fate without me being present. The allegations for recall and my defense are such:
Fails to properly attend meetings. This accusation stems from me attending 4 county commission meetings telephonically. This is a common practice in Otero County and has been accepted for years. Out of the 4 meetings I telephonically attended 2 of them were because of the quarantine restrictions which disallowed me to attend. So technically I only attended 2 meetings which I could have been physically present for but due to being out of town I called in and attended. The previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores telephonically called into 8 commission meetings during her last 4-year tenure in office. That is over twice as many even with the meetings I couldn’t attend because of quarantine restrictions.
Banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation. This happened because I traveled onto the Mescalero Apache Reservation and met with a tribal member named Chris Valdez who couldn’t get the tribe to help him with medical treatment from a work-related accident. While meeting with Chris we spoke about the recent Covid money the tribe had received and where that money had been spent. Upon publicly requesting an audit to make sure that money was getting to the people of Mescalero it wasn’t long after that tribal president Gabe Aquilar banished me from the reservation. All the while he is driving a brand-new Ford Expedition while many of the people he is elected to represent are living in very destitute conditions.
Use of County Resources for Cowboys for Trump. This stems from using my office to record videos. All I did was record videos with my phone while in my office. Since being elected to this office I have spent less of the county money in reimbursements than any of my fellow commissioners. To date I have spent $397 in travel expenses. My fellow commissioner Gerald Matherley has spent over twice as much as I have, and we took office at the same time. Previous District 2 Commissioner Susan Flores spent over $8,600 dollars in travel expenses during her last term as county commissioner in this same office. I have been extremely careful and frugal while being in office. Yet I have been to Washington DC countless times fighting against the federal overreach on the citizens of Otero County. All the way to the Oval Office with a personal, one on one meeting with the President. And President Trump has never recognized Cowboys for Trump or me being a part of Cowboys for Trump. Every time I have spoken to the President, Vice President, or heads of the United Sates Agricultural Dept they have always and only recognized me as Commissioner Griffin.
Filing improper travel voucher, failing to exercise proper fiduciary responsibility. I filled this travel voucher out under the direct advisement of the county secretary Sylvia Tilbrook as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner. I had never filled a travel voucher out before and they are the ones that got me the paperwork and stepped me thru how to fill it out. This voucher was then approved by the finance director Julliane Hall as well as County Manager Pamela Heltner. I had absolutely no idea there was any problem with this voucher nor did my fellow commissioners when former commissioner Lori Bies as well as Gerald Matherley both voted to approve this voucher in a regularly scheduled meeting. The amount of the voucher turned out to be more than my budget would allow so both commissioners voted to raise my budget allowance to cover this “improper voucher” which now I’m the one taking the heat on.
Violation of the Gift Act by soliciting and accepting $3,500 from a restricted donor. I’m not sure if it was $3,500 or $3,400 but I know that G.B. Oliver from the Chamber of Commerce “passed the hat” to local business owners to help me raise this money. The money was only raised to help pay the county back for the illegal travel voucher that they issued. This money that was raised was raised for Otero County. As soon as the full amount was raised, I took this cash money in an envelope, got a money order from Well Fargo, and paid the county back the full amount for the travel voucher. Only trying to do the right thing. That is to make a wrong a right. I also first checked with our County Attorney Michael Eshelman who advised me there was no problem in raising this money to pay the county back.
That is in a nutshell my response to these allegations. A response that the state of NM and District Judge Manuel Arrietta did not allow me the opportunity. If I would have been able to attend this hearing, I don’t believe the recall would have been allowed to move forward and I wouldn’t be going thru what I’m going thru right now.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What 3 accomplishments have you done as a commissioner that you are proudest of?
Couy Griffin Response – “This is a tough question because the so many issues I have fought for have been such huge battles.
1. I was able to address the serious conditions of our local forests directly with the President. On my first conversation with the President, I asked him if he knew where Cloudcroft New Mexico is. He replied no and I told him that he would know exactly where it was if the forest surrounding it were to catch on fire. The President then networked me with Undersecretary of Agriculture Jim Hubbard who oversees all the national forests across America. I had a commitment from Undersecretary Hubbard to bring his whole staff to Otero County and while we were organizing the trip Covid hit. This completely shut his office down and hampered his efforts.
2. I stood alongside our local sheriff David Black as well as the N.M. Sheriffs Association in defending against the red flag gun laws. I travelled the state and spoke strongly inside our county to push back against these unconstitutional laws.
3. I was the only elected official to question the Governor in Santa Teresa NM when she said there was no crisis on our southern border. I advocated strongly for our local border patrol and fought hard to get our secondary checkpoints back open when the crisis on the border forced them to close.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done as a commissioner to bring jobs to the district?
Couy Griffin Response – “Bringing jobs to Otero County was one of my main focusses while entering into this office and is still a focus today. The jobs that I fought for are the jobs that have always sustained our local economy. That is logging and sawmilling, oil and gas, and the ranching industry. That is why I spent so much time in Washington and focused so heavily on creating a strong relationship with President Trump. These jobs which include natural resources on federal land could only be fought for on the federal level. I fought and attained a verbal commitment from President Trump that in his words he was going to “fix my problem”. I truly felt that our problems were going to be fixed during his second tenure in office but with the outcome of the speculative election it has been a great defeat.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you done to lower the poverty rates and improve the graduation and literacy rates in your district since elected?
Couy Griffin Response – “I believe I have fought for those problems non-stop over the last 3 years while being in office. The reason being is because with a stronger private sector and less dependance on the government those problems will fix themselves. When you have a society that is solely dependent on federal money you have destitution on every front. If we could have gotten our logging and sawmilling industries on their feet, it would have provided jobs in the private sector and given people a hope for growth and prosperity moving forward into the future.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What have you personally done to attack the blight of abandoned properties and properties that are eyesores of junk in your district?
Couy Griffin Response – “I just received a call and drove by one of these properties yesterday. It is so hard to get these types of properties cleaned up with current state laws that are on the books. I have encouraged our state representative Rachel Black to investigate getting whatever legislation we need thru the state house to address this horrible problem. I have also visited with the property manager of Eileen Acres as well as brainstormed with property owners from this development about what options may be available. I have expressed a commitment to do anything in my power as a commissioner to clean up abandon buildings and trailer houses throughout the county, but we really need cooperation from the state and that is still to be determined.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Have you officially announced a run for sheriff in the other county?
Couy Griffin Response – “No I have not. But I have entertained the thought and have spoken about it publicly. With the current political state in our country, I feel the office of Sheriff is the most important and powerful political position in the county. If we must make a strong stand one day in our country, it will need to be done thru the office of Sheriff and I feel I have the intestinal fortitude and would be willing to lead that charge.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – If you are running for sheriff why are you holding on to the commission position as it would appear your heart is more into the role of a sheriff?
Couy Griffin Response – “I’m not running for sheriff, at this time anyway.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Can a sheriff hold office if you were elected while having a federal indictment pending?
Couy Griffin Response – “I am currently facing a misdemeanor trespass charge and one that I don’t believe is fair or just. So, we will just see where that ball lands. I did nothing violent or anything that I have any conviction over that was wrong on Jan 6th. I simply stood alongside fellow Americans to protest what I believe were fraudulent elections. And did so under the guise that we were still a free country and still had a Constitutional Right to do so.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you believe former president Trump turned on you when he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump?
Couy Griffin Response – “Former President Trump never distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump. That was a “Fake News” headline. If you believe he distanced himself from Cowboys for Trump, where did you come to that conclusion from? President Trump has never even publicly recognized Cowboys for Trump. The different times President Trump recognized me, Couy Griffin, was only as an Otero County Commissioner. That is the representation that I brought Otero County.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What benefit did the association of Cowboys for Trump bring to Otero County?
Couy Griffin Response – “It helped me to build a relationship with the former President. By me starting and operating Cowboys for Trump it allowed me the opportunity to speak to him about issues directly affecting the great people of Otero County. You could view Cowboys for Trump as a type of “non-paid” lobbying group for Otero County that worked itself all the way into the Oval Office and gained direct attention from the President of the United States. That was an accomplishment. And all my reward has been an unjust and uncalled for recall election with my name smeared daily on social media and mainstream media. But the reward that I work for is not of this world but a world to come. And the only one that matters at the end of the day is God and praise be to Jesus God knows my heart and knows why I do what I do.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you feel the political establishment in Otero County, the state or the Republican Party has turned or distanced themselves from you?
Couy Griffin Response – “I have been very let down not necessarily by the state party but by the chairman Steve Pearce. Only days after the event of January 6th Steve issued an official public statement off the state party platform that said “Couy Griffin travelled to Washington DC to lead the protests and riots”. This was a flat out lie and a very slanderous attack. Steve to this day has not retracted that statement nor apologized for it. So, in saying that I have absolutely no respect for Steve Pearce. And to this day wonder how you can lose the Governor’s race and when you do you are rewarded with the position of chair of the Republican Party?? Steve is a multi-millionaire that knows his way all too well around Washington DC.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why do you think a bipartisan recall committee was formed and any feelings towards those individuals or party officials?
Couy Griffin Response – “In my opinion “bi-partisan” has really lost its edge and its meaning. I say that because many Republicans are just as bad as the Democrats and vice versa. Most are just bar certified attorneys who pick an R or D to fight for but at the end of the day they sleep in the same bed of corruption. All the legislation coming out of our state and federal houses only give more grounds for attorneys to sue. Alas creating more work for most of these agenda driven scum bags. Take Brian Egolf for example. He is the ringleader and one of the biggest reasons New Mexico is so oppressed. You put attorneys like Egolf and Jacob Candelaria in office and you are going to have a dysfunctional and self-serving government like we currently have in NM. Civil Rights, Equal Rights, Transgender Rights………all this legislation does is provide more ground/standing for attorneys to sue but does nothing to help NM become more prosperous or successful.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com went back and forth with multiple emails for clarification and in dialog with Mr. Griffin. We concluded letting him know we were considering running two stories one as a more of a human interest and one of the more political Couy Griffin. He responded to that feedback requesting that we do one “story and that the man he was before he entered office is the man he is today.”
Again AlamogordoTownNews.com is not issuing an opinion on the recall or of Mr. Griffins feedback from this interview process. We will leave that for the readers to determine. We do have some unanswered questions and will follow-up with Steve Pierce and others referenced via his comments in future stories of follow-up.
We will conclude this article with Mr. Griffin’s final statement to the AlamogordoTownNews.com site…
“I’d rather not have the story laid out in a way on how such a nice guy could now be such a horrible domestic terrorist. Of course, not accusing you of that’s the way it would be presented but I can promise you one thing. I’m the same guy today as I was before if not more loving and more sacrificial today.
Since entering office, I have done everything for the greater good and made huge sacrifices. After my first trip to Washington when Cowboys for Trump was founded and branded and all the guys, I rode with came back to families awaiting their arrivals at the airport I came back to divorce papers on my kitchen table.
I had to get completely out of the restaurant business because after the Alamogordo Daily News began their slanderous attacks my business was in the tank. I have given all my personal time, finances, and energy to this cause.
I’ve made some emotionally driven statements a couple times, only good Democrat…and black NFL football players who want to disrespect our flag and play something as RACIST as a “black national anthem” to go to Africa and play their football. Both statements taken entirely out of context.
The first statement I was only speaking figuratively and the second as a red blooded American. If you don’t love it leave it. But the media will only cherry pick those two sound bites out of hundreds of speeches I’ve made.
I’ve ONLY ever wanted to put America and the American People first. I’ve wanted to protect our second amendment and protect the unborn. And it’s too bad Democrats don’t care as much about dead babies as they do dead Democrats!!
I’ve written you candidly and honestly as I would a friend. In trusting that you are decent though I’ve never met you. That is the way I treat everyone. With love and respect. As I have learned to do as I work out my faith in The Lord Jesus Christ.
You can use anything I’ve told you to date. Even this message right here. All I ask is that you don’t twist my words or try to present me as someone I’m not. I’m tired of the media. I’m tired of the liars and slanderers like Paul Sanchez, Scott Fredericks, and the rest of the recall committee.
I have a little over a year left on my oath to the people who elected me and after that I will have done my service.
Politics is the most dirty, corrupt, and hateful world I have ever looked into. And the only reason I fight the way I do is to try and do my part to protect our country and freedoms from those who want to destroy both. I am financially broke and hang in the balance of an uncertain future. But by God’s grace I will not be threatened, intimidated, and I damn sure won’t back down.
AlamogordoTownNew.com is publishing the interview notes directly as written by Mr. Griffin. We offer no commentary at this time but will allow comments, guest commentaries or feedback from any of our readers if they remain professional, stick to facts and do not engage in propaganda and distortions of facts nor personal attacks.
The comments from Mr. Griffin are his and his alone and he owns the commentary of which is published as a response to questions posed.
Now the readers and the voters of his district will decide his fate and that of the political agenda of Otero County as the recall effort moves forward. Mr. Griffin has approximately 1 year left in his term if the recall effort fails before he would face re-election if he so chose to run.
As we reported on June 28th, 2021 the New Mexico Supreme Court cleared the way to allow the political action committee that is leading the effort to recall Commissioner Couy Griffin could go forward.
In follow-up, about two weeks since the ruling, the committee has begun circulating a petition and gathering signatures within his district to recall Cowboys for Trump founder Couy Griffin from public office as a commissioner in Otero County.
The non-partisan Committee to Recall Couy Griffin consists of an equal number of representatives of both parties with a charter to collaborate for the removal of Griffin for the greater good of the overall county. Partisan politics has been put aside to work together for what the group deems is the common good of Otero County, the district, and Southern New Mexico.
The group is not focused on his removal due to rhetoric and outlandish statements, which are in themselves unappealing and lack dignity. Though the statements are unappealing and show a level of ignorance that does not shine well upon the county for business recruitment, they are not the basis of the recall.
The committee and the Supreme Court ruling affirmed that the focus of the recall effort of Griffin was for using his elected county position for personal gain and a variety of other charges.
The committee assert in their brief before the New Mexico Supreme Court that, Griffin used his office space to solicit contributions to Cowboys for Trump that covered his personal expenses. They also are criticizing Griffin’s pursuit of travel reimbursements from taxpayers for a cross-country trip that culminated in a visit with Trump at the White House. Additional causes for recall argued were Griffin’s attendance of Otero County Commission meetings by phone rather than in person, his banishment from the Mescalero Apache Reservation along with alleged use of Otero County Commissioner offices for personal business.
Griffin has called those allegations” frivolous, baseless and politically motivated” per his many public rebuttals. Griffin says that the Cowboys for Trump is a for-profit endeavor and as such that is not subject to financial disclosure requirements for political organizations. The state of New Mexico ruled against this assertion affirming that Secretary of State may go after him and the organization for failure to comply with New Mexico political reporting laws.
Since the positive ruling signature gathering has moved forward to get the question of recall on the ballot. AlamogordoTownNews.com reached out to the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin to get their assessment of how the effort is going. We presented committee spokesperson Scott Fredrick with questions for an update…
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you have any updates on the recall effort?
Scott Fredrickson – “We had good traffic this weekend at the La Luz and Tularosa locations. Only 2 people came to the locations that did not support our efforts, but they were nice and with discussed our case with them.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – When and where are the next signature drives?
Scott Fredrickson – We have a meeting Monday night to discuss the next weeks efforts. The committee will be at Veterans Park in Tularosa again next Sunday, July 18th from 1 to 4 at a minimum.
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you anticipate meeting the deadline to get the question on the November general election ballot?
Scott Fredrickson – “We have been told that we need to have the signatures to the clerk by August 5th to have them validated in time for the recall to be in the November general election. We are going to do all we can to prevent having a special election at an additional cost to the taxpayers.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the deadline to qualify for a special election of the August deadline is missed?
Scott Fredrickson – “We have 90 days from July 1st (September 28th) petition initiation date to get them to the clerk.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has Couy Griffin been in touch with your group in the last week?
Scott Fredrickson – “We have not had any contact with Couy other than one of our committee members briefly spoke with him during a break at the county commission meeting last week.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – Has the group encountered any recent hostility?
Scott Fredrickson – “No.”
AlamogordoTownNews.com – You are now the acting spokesperson for the Committee to Recall Couy Griffin, for what reasons are you involved in this effort and what is your community and political background?
Scott Fredrickson – “I am involved in the effort because I voted for Couy and do not like how he has represented me as a commissioner. I feel he spent too much time in his Cowboys for Trump role to effectively tend to the needs of Otero County. I live in District 2 and I am active in local politics because I want what is best for the local area. I am a registered Republican and ran for the city commission in the last Alamogordo District 2 election. I retired from the US Air Force 5 years ago and stayed here because we like the area and I work for Holloman.
Mr. Fredrickson concluded,“Our committee has 5 Republicans and 5 Democrats, and we are a non-partisan organization. Our goal is to get a commissioner who will work for Otero County and not bring negative press to the local area.”
The recall initiative is moving forward. The committee is in the parks and around County Commission District 2 gathering signatures. Couy Griffin is at present attending Commission meetings but is also embroiled in multiple lawsuits that are a distraction from serving his constituents.
Today, Couy Griffin is divorced, disparaged by family, and confronts a political recall drive, a state corruption investigation, and federal charges. He is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in any restricted building or grounds without lawful authority, according to a United States District Court criminal complaint. In Washington, prosecutors unveiled photographs of Griffin climbing a toppled fence and another barrier to access the Capitol steps.
Griffin has been rebuked by many Republicans over his racial invective. He’s also been suspended from Facebook and banished from Native American lands in his district as he contests charges of breaking into the Capitol grounds and disrupting Congress that could carry a one-year sentence. A recall effort is underway, amid a plethora of lawsuits.
The New Mexico Secretary of State says that Cowboys for Trump operated by Couy Griffin qualifies as a political committee, amid its parades on horseback and merchandise sales in support of Trump. The secretary of state’s office prevailed in a June arbitration and appeal to court decision that ordered Cowboys for Trump to register, file expenditure and contribution reports and pay a fine of $7,800.
According tp the Santa Fe New Mexican Jan 18, 2021 “New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas said he intends to see Griffin removed from his elected office. Balderas said his office is aiding the federal investigation into Griffin, 47 — who is charged with knowingly entering or remaining in a restricted building or grounds without lawful authority — while also gathering evidence for a criminal probe into Griffin’s time on the Otero County Commission.”
“We’re hopeful the federal prosecution will move rather quickly and the evidence presented there will help make the case for his removal clearer,” Balderas said Monday. “The general public should be outraged about what he’s been able to do while in office.”
The two other County Commissioners; Gerald Matherly and Vickie Marquardt — both Republicans have asked Couy Griffin to please, just resign, so they can focus on the county’s business without distractions and drama.
At a commission meeting in April the drama and debate around Griffin intensified with both Republicans making statements that he needs to leave.
Matherly was clear about his position, “We have gone through many days of drama, with our staff and my office. I’ve received threats myself because of your actions. This is office supposed to be taking care of county business, and I don’t think you should be using county property for Cowboys for Trump business and filming personal videos. Every time we have county meetings, it turns into a meeting about Couy Griffin’s personal life and has nothing to do with county business.”
Marquardt didn’t hold back either, “How many hours do you think you actually spend on county business each week? You generate hate that rains down on this county, and we have to deal with it,” she said.
Griffin said that everything he did under the auspice of Cowboys for Trump was for the good of the county. “It was to represent the conservative values of Otero County.”
Griffin continues in defiance against all odds but now it is up to the voters of District 2 to decide.
The question each voter should ask themselves…
Is the District better off since Couy Griffin was elected to his position?
What value has he brought to the district?
Has Mr. Griffin enhanced employment opportunities, recruited new businesses personally or via commission directives? What has he done to lower the poverty rates in his district?
Is he a good spokesperson for Otero county to recruit good paying jobs, tourism and new development?
Is he devoting a majority of his time to local constituent concerns?
If not allowed on the reservation, how does he represent their interests within the county and participate in collaborative dialog?
What has he done to improve the lives for our children since being elected?
What has his done that improves the lives of seniors and the middle class in his district since being elected?
The poverty rate for Otero County is 21.2% with the high number of individuals living in poverty, located in District 2, what has he done to help solve the issue of poverty since being elected, and how much time and how many speeches has he given specific to this topic since being elected?
Are you better off now then before he was elected?
If the responses to most of the questions above are positive, then he is your commissioner. If the answers to most of the questions above, are he has not impacted the issue, has not addressed the issue or has not proposed solutions and work towards them in district and on behalf of his constituents then the citizen should sign the petition for his recall.
Those who participate make the decisions. Be informed, participate, make a difference for yourself, family, and friends and for future generations. What we do today impacts tomorrow. The future of your district and of business growth and wealth creation for you, your family and future generation may indeed be impacted by this very recall effort.
Is Couy Griffin worth the gamble for the future of District 2 and Otero County? District 2 registered voters of all parties, that is up to you to decided.
The road to legalization of recreational marijuana use in New Mexico has been a mixed and complex journey which finally culminated on the legislature approving and the governor signing into law legalized marijuana in the state of New Mexico. Effective June 29th, 2021 possession of marijuana is no longer a punishable offense by city nor state law.
However. be careful on Federal lands and at border control checkpoints. It is still a violation of Federal law to be in procession of marijuana so technically a border control agent at a checkpoint or on any Federal lands if in procession of marijuana one is in violation of Federal laws.
The road to legalization has been a mixed one, locally in Otero County and the city of Alamogordo politicians have been mixed in their support of the changing laws.
In Tularosa, Mayor Margaret Trujillo was happy that the new cannabis bill passed the state legislature.
She told the Alamogordo Daily News Reported Nicole Maxwell in March per an Article in the Alamogordo Daily News April 3, 2021; “I think it was a fantastic idea. I’m glad that it was finally done,” Trujillo said. “I think were several years behind the whole thing. I mean other states have done the same thing and they have raked in lots of money and we’re (New Mexico) barely getting started. At least we’re getting there.”
On the flip side of the coin, Alamogordo City Commissioner, Susan Payne seeing the writing on the wall, has shown support in voting to align local laws with the state laws concerning marijuana, yet she has issued a statement in opposition to marijuana decriminalization law revisions.
During a revision to the local laws to align decriminalization to the state laws in July of 2019, Commissioner Susan Payne, issued a statement in opposition to decriminalization of marijuana laws. The city commission voted to update an ordinance regarding unlawful possession of marijuana to be in line with a new state law in 2019.
Per the city attorney “It decriminalizes the first offense up to half an ounce, just to make it easier for everybody, we are staying right in line with the state just as we do with all of our ordinances,” City Attorney Petria Bengoechea said before commissioners.
The motion to update the ordinance passed unanimously at the meeting, but Commissioner Payne was not happy with the outcome. District 3 County Commissioner Susan Payne voted in favor of the motion but said she disapproved of the ordinance changes after the vote per the Alamogordo Daily News report of July 25th, 2019; “Professionally speaking, I think that we do need to be in line with the state but personally, no I am absolutely not in favor of this and I just wanted to make that clear,” Payne said.
Meanwhile, Marijuana legalization means JOBS for Alamogordo, Tularosa and Otero County citizens.
Just outside the Tularosa Village Limit is Ultra Health’s hemp farm. Through this farm legal marijuana means JOBS for the Otero County community and Southern New Mexico. This company is building the largest cannabis cultivation site in North America. Ultra-Health is New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company and the largest vertically integrated medical cannabis provider in the United States.
Ultra-Health is expanding its outdoor cultivation capacity with the acquisition of 150 acres of additional farmland and more than 750 acres of water feet in Tularosa, New Mexico. The operator purchased an initial 200 acres of farmland and 1,000-acre feet of water in the same area in early 2018.
Between all its operations, Ultra Health has more than 15.8 million square feet of retail, production and cultivation space and has already invested more than $30 million into the New Mexico cannabis market. Ultra-Health’s 2020 expansion efforts exceeded $12 million including constructing a new, state-of-the-art, 35,000-square foot greenhouse on its Bernalillo campus as well as the purchase of HQ1, a 35,000-square foot commercial building in Albuquerque that will serve as the organization’s New Mexico headquarters.
The provider currently employs nearly 300 New Mexicans and plans to hire several hundred more employees to satisfy retail, cultivation, packaging, distribution, and professional services required to support both increased medical patient and adult-use demand for commercial cannabis activity. With the expansion of the facilities new Tularosa, it means jobs for Otero County residence.
On June 29th, 2021, cannabis or more commonly referred to as marijuana, will be legal to possess or use in New Mexico by adults aged 21 years or older.
How much possession is allowed after the 29th?
Up to 2 ounces of cannabis;
up to 16 grams of extract;
or up to 800 milligrams of edible cannabis.
Where can I consume marijuana legally after the 29th?
Like alcoholic beverages, public consumption of cannabis is limited to licensed “consumption areas” where it may be served and consumed — and those don’t exist yet. Consuming cannabis elsewhere in public could get you a $50 ticket. So, if you have your marijuana don’t smoke it out in the public but you may in your house or backyard.
Private property owners and businesses can forbid it, and your workplace can institute zero-tolerance policies against it. Under federal law, “marijuana” is a Schedule One controlled substance, classified with heroin and other narcotics, which means any amount is forbidden on federal territory so do not take it to the base or Federal public lands.
Where can I buy it?
Legally, nowhere in New Mexico yet, unless one is a registered medical cannabis patient who buys medicinal products at licensed dispensaries. For non-medicinal cannabis, the state has until September to begin processing business licenses and until January to establish rules for producing, marketing, and serving cannabis. Retail sales are to commence no later than April 1 of next year, if not sooner.
And yes, that means for a few months, possession of small amounts of cannabis will be decriminalized while it is not yet legal to buy or sell it in the state but of course you can pop over to Colorado or Arizona where it is legal and buy from one of their dispensaries until April 2022 in New Mexico.
Or of course you can plant it between the tomatoes or in your flower garden…
The law permits individuals up to six mature cannabis plants and six immature plants, or a maximum of 12 in a household with multiple residents. The law also says you can make edibles or extracts — with nonvolatile solvents, alcohol or carbon dioxide or no solvents.
Whatever the case, on June 29th in New Mexico, Otero County and Alamogordo you can roll yourself a joint, and you can share some with a friend if they are at least 21 years old and with that a new era begins.
For some there will be the flashback to the 60s and a reminder of the song by the 5th Dimension The Age Of Aquarius, Let the Sunshine In!
When the moon is in the Seventh House And Jupiter aligns with Mars Then peace will guide the planets And love will steer the stars This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius Age of Aquarius Aquarius Aquarius
Harmony and understanding Sympathy and trust abounding No more falsehoods or derisions Golden living dreams of visions Mystic crystal revelation And the mind’s true liberation Aquarius Aquarius
When the moon is in the Seventh House And Jupiter aligns with Mars Then peace will guide the planets And love will steer the stars This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius Age of Aquarius Aquarius Aquarius Aquarius Aquarius
Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in, the sunshine in Let the sunshine, let the sunshine in…
Given the modern political climate of our time, a look back at the age of Aquarius and letting a little sunshine in would be a particularly good thing.
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We are writing this letter as one of several concerned citizens who have experienced damage to their water or sewer pipes or foundation damage as a result of actions by the City of Alamogordo and the contractors working on the McKinley Channel Project. The City of Alamogordo Department of Public Works has notified homeowners that they must repair the damaged sewer pipes connecting into their homes but that are in the public street beyond the sidewalk due to street damage that was caused by the McKinley Channel Project large equipment mismanagement under the direction of the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Alamogordo.
Throughout the project over the last several months the streets adjacent to the project and homes adjacent to the project have suffered damages due to the rumblings, shaking and use of the heavy equipment used for this project.
While the citizens of the streets of Juniper and McKinley are appreciative, that after so many years, the city finally found funding for this important Channel Project. However, that project that benefits the city in whole, should not be done at the peril of the residence of Juniper and McKinley Avenues without consequences.
Several homeowners had complained to no avail until the last 2 weeks about the heavy equipment damaging the foundations of the homes when the equipment was running along the McKinley alley way. Primarily the weight of the industrial size earth dump truck. When driving along the ditch its vibrations were significant enough to cause considerable cracking to the foundations of multiple homes. See photo below as example 1 of damages caused by use of equipment from this project.
Under the stress of normal circumstances with natural earth vibrations one would agree with that thinking however this is not normal circumstances. The streets of Juniper and McKinley have been bombarded with extreme vibrations by heavy industrial grade earth moving equipment for months and these continued vibrations have caused unwarranted extra stress on these properties resulting in damages that the homeowners are having to cover and insurance refuses to cover.
The heavy dirt dump trucks were going up and down Juniper Drive and causing significant damage to that street. A local plumber reported multiple homes on that street had called him out for street repairs to their plumbing connections that all began during the time the dump trucks were driving up and down Juniper and the homeowners were forced by the city to pay for the repairs as the damage was on the streets at the connection points to the sewers and water mains. When asked why they must pay for damages of which they did not create they were told it was city code by city personnel.
City personnel also reported that they, “don’t believe the homeowner should be responsible once the line is in the street or sidewalk which is public domain but that their hands were tied. They claimed they have reported the issue many times to department heads and the commissioners, and they were told the code is the code and the person is liable.” What is most alarming is that not only did the residents NOT create this issue, but they were also forced to absorb the expense and Alamogordo is one of few cities in the state of New Mexico that forces homeowners to pay for damage to piping and connections from the sidewalk to the street, why?
A city worker also reported that, “the city is aware of the issue and the contractor and FEMA was actually compensating the city to repair the pavement that has been cracked and destroyed on Juniper Drive as a result of this heavy equipment. So here we have a real concern that raises a question of corrupt intent? The city is aware of the issue but has kept it quiet in admitting that the issue exists. The city forced homeowners on Juniper do conduct repairs to piping and infrastructure on public lands, yet the city was paid off or is in the process of being paid off for damages on Juniper. Is the city then going to reimburse those homeowners for “out of pocket expenses” or has the city enriched itself with this “payoff” and not reimbursed the homeowners? The homeowners who are out of pocket deserve answers.
NOW COMES MCKINLEY AVENUE, the giant earth moving dump trucks have been driving up and down McKinley for the past month and guess what? McKinley Avenue is now cracking even after being newly paved just 2 years ago…
The typical residential road in a small town of less than 50,000 residence costs on average $1.5 Million per mile to properly pave and that residential road should have a life of 30 years. McKinley Avenue was repaved just 2 years ago and should not be seeing the cracking that is now showing up. That cracking was however a direct result of heavy equipment from the McKinley Channel Project.
Per the Institute of Urban and Regional Planning, University of California at Berkeley there are specific weight limits in place for what a typical residential road can handle verses a main through fare and a US interstate. Obviously the later has heavy weight limits and most residential roads are not designed for repeated use by heavy machinery such as the industrial dump trucks carrying dirt for the McKinley Channel Project. In a nutshell, McKinley or Juniper were not designed for the month of heavy industrial traffic that has been going up and down the roads. As such the vibrations and weight has cracked the roads and has cracked the sewer pipes and water pipes in the roads going into the homes.
The construction company admitted as such these past few weeks to some homeowners and then came in and fixed the issue at their expense not the homeowner on 5 damaged residences this past week. While we are happy, they did, the question remains what happens to those homeowners where the issue may not be immediately apparent, and the issue pops up over the next year as a result of the recent damage? The construction company said when they are gone, they will no longer accept responsibility.
Photos of damage and recent repairs during May on McKinley Avenue.
In any other city in New Mexico, the city would assume responsibility as the connector to the sewer city is beyond the sidewalk in the street and in most cities in New Mexico the city assumes responsibility for those connections. The City of Alamogordo’s Public Works Department however notified several residences that the city is NOT responsible, and that the homeowner is responsible no matter where the connection to the sewer lies rather in middle of the road or nearer the homeowner’s property line. When the insurance companies were contacted several said they will NEVER pay a claim that is at the sidewalk to the street and that the city should be responsible and city code is contrary to that of almost every other city in the state.
In reviewing the city code for Alamogordo, it says the homeowner is responsible for repairs to the connection period and that liens are placed on homeowners’ properties for damages fixed by the city and not paid by the homeowner. So, in a nutshell, the city may allow damage and large oversized vehicles to trapse a residential road, that road may be damaged, and the damage may also happen to the homeowners piping and lead to their foundation. The city claims no responsibility and lands it with the homeowner. The city says the average fee is around $2,000.00 for these types of repairs that go into the sidewalk and city street. Alamogordo is the only known city that forces homeowners to absorb the cost of repairs that are beyond the homeowner’s property line into the sidewalk and street.
We propose this ordinance needs to be changed to be consistent with every other major city in the state of New Mexico or the city needs to reach an agreement with all the various homeowners insurance companies and pass an ordinance that makes them liable to cover such damage as they would if it were within the bounds of the property line of the home or business owner. The existing ordinance on the books is punitive and unjustifiably passes an unwarranted burden onto the property owner to fix and repair piping that is in the city domain. As citizens we request the city to modify the city ordinance to be consistent with that of other cities in New Mexico immediately. The ordinance as written raises questions of constitutionality and property rights questions. By way of this letter and public statement we are requesting the city to place this letter into the public record in the public comments of the next city council meeting. Further we are requesting that this item be placed on the docket for review and discussion and finally request a vote be taken within 90 days on modifying the ordinance so that it is consistent with every other major city in New Mexico and that the city assume responsibility for all pipes, and connections outside of the property line of the homeowner or business owner meaning past the sidewalk and into the city street.
Concern Citizens of McKinely and Juniper Avenue, Alamogordo New Mexico
On the back Soledad C. Chacón climbs the New Mexico Round House and the Congressional Delegation of Rep. Deb Haaland, Yvette Herrell and Teresa Leger Fernandez
Was 2014 the flashpoint for women in executive leadership and politics for the state of New Mexico? A lot of dialog has been created about the number women in politics in New Mexico of recent but not much has been published about the pathway that led to the success of women in power. There are a few key leaders, key organizations and the path fell on the backbone or foundation of some strong and determined women to get New Mexico to where it is now. Not only is it a leader in the number of women in political power it is also the national leader of women of color in political power. Let us look at a little insight into the history of what created the pathway to female equity in New Mexico political leadership.
The history of women impacting New Mexico politics begins in excess of 100 years ago…
New Mexico during its founding had been among the more politically conservative states in the West when it came to women’s suffrage, refusing to extend women the right to vote until after the passage of the 19th Amendment. The fight for women’s suffrage in New Mexico was incremental and had the support of both Hispanic and Anglo women suffragists. When New Mexico was a territory, women only had the right to vote in school board elections. Women under the Republic of Mexico in the land that became New Mexico had more rights than women in the United States did at the time. During the time that New Mexico was a territory of the United States, women were allowed to vote in school board elections.
The New Mexico State Constitutional Convention of 1910…
In 1910, New Mexico was eligible to become a state and a state constitutional convention was held. Just before the convening of the convention, the New Mexico Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU) held a public debate on women’s suffrage. This debate took place in August in Mountainair, New Mexico and featured the president of the University of New Mexico and a socialist.
Most delegates to the convention did not women participating in politics. Nevertheless, during the convention which began on October 3, librarian, Julia Duncan Brown Asplund, attended each day and petitioned delegates to provide partial suffrage for women in the right to vote in school elections Delegate Solomon Luna, uncle of prominent New Mexican suffragist, Nina Otero-Warren, and H.O Bursum were both pro-suffrage.
Delegate Reuben Heflin, a Democrat from Farmington introduced the school election provision early on during the convention. On November 8, the convention’s Committee on Elective Franchise sponsored a “motion to strike out the limited franchise for women.” Two of the delegates were very opposed to women voting even in school elections were Delegates Dougherty and Sena. Dougherty stated that he didn’t believe women in New Mexico wanted to vote and Sena claimed that voting would lead to harm for women.
After this, the Woman’s Club of Albuquerque presented a petition for partial suffrage to the convention through Delegate Stover. The provision to allow women to vote did pass and was adopted in the final draft of the constitution which was passed on November 21. However, the constitution was also written in such a way that adding other voting rights would be difficult. The constitution required that three-fourths of all voters in each county in New Mexico would have to approve any changes to suffrage in the state.
When New Mexico created its state constitution in 1910, it continued to allow women to vote only in school elections. Upon creation of the state constitution, it was deemed impossible to modify the constitution to extend the voting rights of women any further.
Women in the suffrage fight in the state of New Mexico chose to pursue advocating for a federal women’s suffrage amendment. They organized among both English and Spanish speaking groups from the Alfred M. Bergere House which is on the National Register of Historic Places. That house was the flashpoint and the origin of the suffrage movement in New Mexico. The home originally built in the early 1870s on the Fort Marcy Military Reservation became the home of the Otero Bergere family, including Adelina (Nina) Otero Warren, a noted suffragist, author, and businesswoman. Her suffrage work in New Mexico caught the attention of suffrage leader Alice Paul, who tapped Nina in 1917 to head the New Mexico chapter of the Congressional Union (precursor to the National Woman’s Party). Nina insisted that suffrage literature be published in both English and Spanish, in order to reach the widest audience. Under their leadership in galvanizing women of color to unite with Caucasian women pressure then was put on the many male New Mexico politicians who then were forced to support suffrage on a federal level. Continued advocacy on behalf of suffragists in the state allowed New Mexico to become the 32nd state to ratify the Nineteenth Amendment on February 21, 1920.
The Nations First Female Statewide Office Holder A New Mexican and a Woman of Color…
In 1922, two years after the 19th Amendment guaranteed women the right to vote, the people of New Mexico elected Soledad Chávez de Chacón (August 10, 1890–August 4, 1936) as the first woman elected to be the Secretary of State of New Mexico, and the first Hispanic woman elected to statewide office in the United States.
She served as acting Governor of New Mexico for two weeks in 1924, becoming the second woman to act as chief executive of a U.S. state.
The Growth Curve and Roadblock to Women In Politics…
The trend of women in political power continued to grow in New Mexico. The trends favored a growth of women in political office nationwide. In New Mexico and nationally the proportion of women among statewide elective officials had grown substantially during the 1960s to 1971. From 1971 to 1983 the increases were small and incremental. Then, between 1983 and 2000, a period of significant growth, the number and proportion of women serving statewide almost tripled, reaching a record of 92 women, constituting 28.5 percent of all statewide elected officials, in 2000. Since 2000, the numbers and proportions dropped notably. As a result, dialog began on what to do to help train and groom women for leadership and into political office.
The decline in women statewide elected officials continued following the 2010 elections. Despite the election of three new women governors, the number of women serving in statewide elective offices nationwide actually decreased by two, and fewer women, 69 held statewide offices in 2011 than in 1995 when there were 84 women.
A review of the 2010 election results in 2011 showed some major issues of concern, women held 21.8 percent of the 317 statewide elective positions nationwide. In addition to the six women governors, 11 women (four Democrat, seven Republican) served as lieutenant governors in the 44 states that elect lieutenant governors in statewide elections. This was considerably fewer than the record number of 19 women who served as lieutenant governors in 1995.
Other women statewide elected officials included: 11 secretaries of state (eight Democrats, three Republicans), seven state auditors (five Democrats, two Republicans), six state treasurers (five Democrats, one Republican), seven attorneys general (five Democrats, two Republicans), five chief education officials (two Democrats, two Republicans, one nonpartisan), four public service commissioners (three Democrats, one Republican), four state comptroller/controllers (one Democrat, three Republicans), two commissioners of insurance (one Democrat, one Republican), three corporation commissioners (one Democrat, two Republicans), one commissioner of labor (Republican), one railroad commissioner (Republican), and one public regulatory commissioner (Democrat).
In addition to the two women of color who served as governors, the women serving in statewide elective office included four African-Americans (the lieutenant governor of Florida, the attorney general of California (Kamala Harris), the state treasurer of Connecticut and the corporation commissioner of Arizona); three Latinas (the secretary of state of New Mexico, the attorney general of Nevada and the superintendent of public instruction for Oregon); and one Native American (the public regulatory commissioner of New Mexico).
The decreases of women in politics became and alarming trend not only in the US but south of the border in the country of Mexico as well. However, they took an interesting approach and made it the law of the land to engage more women into leadership…
The country of Mexico approved a political reform package that, among other things, included new measures aimed to ensure the greater participation of women in politics in 2014. The law now requires gender parity, which means that at least fifty percent of the candidates fielded by a political party in either federal or state legislative elections must be female.
Mexico had a history of encouraging the participation of women in politics and has impressive rates of participation in the federal Congress. Women in 2014 accounted for 38% of the legislators in Mexico’s lower house and 35% of the senators, rates in line with the Nordic countries (in 2014 the US, 18% of the seats in the House of Representatives and 20% of the Senate seats are filled by women). Mexico’s high rate of female participation is due in large part to previous affirmative action policies, which included several loopholes that the new law closes. Formerly, in order to comply with established quotas, women who were put on the ballot were later encouraged to cede their place to a male listed as a reserve replacement (oftentimes their husband) –the political party’s preference in the first place. Furthermore, women were included on the list to be assigned by their party under proportional representation but were so far down in the pecking order that they were rarely tapped to serve.
The new reform increased the quota requirement for candidates to 50%, with more stringent rules related to how the quota is implemented. Now, for example, the candidate and her replacement will have to be female.
Demographics favor women and most especially women of color in New Mexico…
The state of New Mexico took notice of what was happening in the country south of her border and of the trends within the United State. It was determined demographics actually work in the favor of women in key states such as New Mexico. As such women especially the Democratic leadership reviewed options in keys states such as New Mexico.
New Mexico’s population is a majority Latino or Hispanic and an additional 11 percent American Indian or Alaska Native, making it one of the few states, in which most of its residents, are non-white. The Latino population has grown over the past few decades, meaning a Chicanx or Latina candidates share a similar ethnic background now with a majority of the population.
The percentage of racial and ethnic minorities — people who identify as Hispanic, black, Asian, or “other” — in New Mexico eclipsed the percentage of white residents’ way back in 1994. California, New Mexico, and Texas were not far behind.
And by the year 2060, a total of 22 states are projected to have what demographers call, somewhat oxymoronically, “majority-minority” populations.
Four states — Arizona, Florida, Georgia, and New Jersey — are set to tip in the 2020s. In the 2030s, Alaska, Louisiana, and New York will follow. Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Virginia will obtain race-ethnic majority-minority status in 2040s. And Colorado, North Carolina, and Washington are on track to make it in the 2050s.
New Mexico as one of the first majority-minority states is the trendsetter into the future of politics…
New Mexico politics has also become increasingly dominated by Democrats, which may have helped some women of color, as women of color are disproportionately likely to run — and win — on the Democratic side of the ticket. But recruiting women of color has also become a higher priority for groups that aim to propel more women into elected office, like Emerge, a national Democratic organization that opened an office in New Mexico in 2005. Emerge New Mexico, claims that over the past 14 years, 350 women have gone through their six-month training program. Of those, over half have run for office and over half of the program members are also women of color. 98 Emerge New Mexico Alumnae are actively in Public Office per their 2020 data on their website to include…
U.S. Cabinet Secretary
Deb Haaland, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, ENM ’07;
New Mexico Statewide Office
Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard Commissioner of Public Lands, ENM ’08; Chair Marg Elliston Chair of the Democratic Party of New Mexico, ENM ’13
New Mexico Supreme Court
Justice Barbara Vigil, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, ENM ’12; Justice Julie Vargas, New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, Statewide, ENM ’14; Justice Shannon Bacon New Mexico Supreme Court Justice, ENM Founding Board Member
New Mexico Court of Appeals
Judge Jennifer Attrep New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’15: Judge Kristina Bogardus New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’17; Judge Megan Duffy Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18; Judge Shammara Henderson New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’10; Judge Jacqueline Medina New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’14; Judge Jane Yohalem New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18
Senator Shannon Pinto Senate District 3, Tohatchi, ENM ’20; Senator Katy Duhigg Senate District 10, Albuquerque, ENM ’11; Senator Siah Correa Hemphill Senate District 28, Albuquerque, ENM ’19; Senator Carrie Hamblen Senate District 38, Albuquerque, ENM ’15
Rep. D. Wonda Johnson House District 5, Gallup, ENM ’14; Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero House District 13, Albuquerque, ENM ’07; Rep. Dayan “Day” Hochman-Vigil House District 15, Albuquerque, ENM ’18; Rep. Debbie Armstrong House District 17, Albuquerque, ENM ’12; Rep. Meredith Dixon House District 20, Albuquerque, ENM ’20; Rep. Debbie Sariñana House District 21, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Liz Thomson House District 24, Albuquerque, ENM ’09; Rep. Georgene Louis House District 26, Albuquerque, ENM ’10; Rep. Marian Matthews House District 27, Albuquerque, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Rep. Melanie Stansbury House District 28, Albuquerque, ENM ’17; Rep. Joy Garratt House District 29, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Natalie Figueroa, House District 30, Albuquerque, ENM ’16; Rep. Angelica Rubio House District 35, Las Cruces, ENM ’13; Rep. Joanne Ferrary House District 37, Las Cruces, ENM ’13; Rep. Kristina Ortez House District 42, Las Cruces, ENM ’20; Rep. Christine Chandler House District 43, Los Alamos, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Rep. Linda Serrato House District 45, Las Cruces, ENM ’18; Rep. Andrea Romero House District 46, Santa Fe, ENM ’18; Rep. Tara Lujan House District 48, Santa Fe, ENM ’12; Rep. Karen Bash House District 68, Albuquerque, ENM ’18
Judge Maria Sanchez-Gagne 1st Judicial District, Div II, ENM ’16; Judge Shannon Broderick Bulman 1st Judicial District, Div III, ENM ’19; Judge Sylvia Lamar 1st Judicial District, Div IV, ENM ’15; Judge Kathleen McGarry Ellenwood 1st Judicial District, Div X, ENM ’20; Judge Catherine Begaye 2nd Judicial District, Children’s Court, ENM ’14; Judge Beatrice Brickhouse 2nd Judicial District, Div IV, ENM ’10 Judge Nancy Franchini 2nd Judicial District, Div V, ENM ’14; Judge Lisa Chavez Ortega 2nd Judicial District, Div XIII, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Marie Ward 2nd Judicial District, Div XIV, ENM ’06 Judge Erin O’Connell 2nd Judicial District, Div XVII, ENM ’19; Judge Amber Chavez Baker 2nd Judicial District, Div XXII, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Debra Ramirez 2nd Judicial District, Div XXIV, ENM ’15; Judge Jane Levy 2nd Judicial District, Div XXV, ENM ’17; Judge Clara Moran 2nd Judicial District, Div XXVIII, ENM ’16; udge Melissa Kennelly 8th Judicial District, Div IX, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Amanda Sanchez Villalobos 13th Judicial District, Div IX, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Judge Rosemary Cosgrove Aguilar Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’08; Judge Brittany Maldonado Malott Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’19; Judge Courtney Weaks Metropolitan Court, Bernalillo County, ENM ’13; Judge Elizabeth Allen Municipal Judge, District 32, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Judge Cristy Carbón-Gaul Probate Court Judge, Bernalillo County, ENM Founding Board Member
Councilor Diane Gibson Albuquerque City Councilor, District 7, ENM ’11, Councilor Tessa Abeyta-Stuve Las Cruces City Councilor, District 2, ENM ’18; Councilor Johana Bencomo Las Cruces City Councilor, District 4, ENM ’18; Councilor Renee Villarreal Santa Fe County Councilor, ENM ’18; Councilor Guadalupe Cano Silver City Town Councilor, ENM ’11
Assessor Tanya Giddings Bernalillo County Assessor, ENM ’14; Assessor Linda Gallegos Sandoval County Assessor, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Clerk Linda Stover Bernalillo County Clerk, ENM Bootcamp ’19; Clerk Amanda López Askin Doña Ana County Clerk, ENM ’19; Clerk Katharine Clark Santa Fe County Clerk, ENM ’17; Clerk Naomi Maestas Los Alamos County Clerk, ENM ’20; Treasurer Nancy Bearce Bernalillo County Treasurer, ENM ’14; Treasurer Jennifer Manzanares Santa Fe County Treasurer, ENM ’19; Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty Bernalillo County Commission, District 5, ENM ’18; Commissioner Adriann Barboa Bernalillo County Commissioner, District 3, ENM ’17; Commissioner Diana Murillo-Trujillo Doña Ana County Commissioner, District 2, ENM ’15; Commissioner Alicia Edwards Grant County Commissioner, District 3, ENM ’15; Commissioner Sara Scott Alamos County Councilor, Position 1, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Commissioner Katherine Bruch Sandoval County Commissioner, ENM Bootcamp ’18; Commissioner Anna Hansen Santa Fe County Commissioner, District 2, ENM ’14; Commissioner Anna Hamilton Santa Fe County Commissioner, District 4, ENM ’16; Commissioner Anjanette Brush Taos County Commissioner, District 4, ENM ’19
Yolanda Cordova APS Board of Education, District 1, ENM ’18; Elizabeth Armijo APS Board of Education, District 6, ENM ’09; Nancy Baca CNM Governing Board, District 5, ENM ’10; Teresa Tenorio Las Cruces School Board, District 4, ENM ’18; Chris Bernstein Los Alamos School Board, District 3, ENM ’18; Mara Salcido Lovington School Board, District 3, ENM ’15; Hilda Sanchez Roswell School Board, District 4, ENM ’17; Jody Pugh Santa Fe Community College Board of Trustees, Position 3, ENM ’18; Carmen Gonzales Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education, ENM ’18; Kate Noble Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education, District 3, ENM ’17; M. Paulene Abeyta To’hajiilee School Board, ENM ’17
Flora Lucero Bernalillo County Democratic Party, Chair, ENM ’19; Laura Childress Lincoln County Democratic Party, 1st Vice-Chair, ENM ’20; Leah Ahkee-Baczkiewcz Sandoval County Democratic Party, Vice-Chair, ENM ‘18
Middle Rio Grande Conservation District
Stephanie Russo Baca MRGCD Board Director, Position 5, ENM ‘19
Soil and Water Conservation District
Teresa Smith De Cherif Valencia Soil & Water Conservation District Board Supervisor, ENM ‘14
New Mexico Women by the Numbers after 2020…
Many women are now being elected as witnessed by this training of groups like Emerge and the training paid off in strong numbers in 2020. After the election of 2020, the real story in New Mexico is, it was the year of the woman and the year of the woman of color. Women made state history by winning most seats in the New Mexico State House of Representatives. Though still in the minority in the New Mexico Senate, women set a record in that chamber, too, with 12 seats. Out of 70 State Representatives, women now make up 37 of them on the house side, and of course the Governor is a woman.
New Mexico now ranks fourth in the nation for the ratio of women to men who will hold House chamber seats in January, said Jean Sinzdak, associate director of the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University in New Jersey, per the Santa Fe New Mexican publication.
New Mexico continued to make its mark in political history by becoming the first state in history to elect an all-female delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives. It also made history as the first state in the continental US to elect all three members of this historic delegation as also women of color. Incumbent Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., Yvette Herrell (Republican) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (Democrat) in New Mexico’s three congressional districts were the three women elected. (Note Deb Haaland has since been appointed to the US Secretary of the Interior as the first Native American to hold that title, her seat is now up for special election) The first U.S. state to have an all women of color House delegation was Hawaii in 1990, when Rep. Patsy Mink (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Pat Saiki (R-Hawaii) took office, however New Mexico is the first state to do so in the continental US.
Haaland is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Laguna and made history in 2018 when she became one of the first Native American congresswomen. Herrell is a member of the Cherokee nation and former N.M. state representative. Leger-Fernandez is the first woman and Latina to ever represent northern New Mexico in U.S. Congress.
Our hope our future New Mexico…
Each of the proud and deserving women have a long difficult road ahead of them to represent a diverse population within New Mexico. Much has been said about the poor rankings of the state in academics, the reliance upon the oil industry to keep the state budget afloat and the many challenges with crime and poverty within the state. The men proceeding these women have not made it an easy job for them to step into. However, the editorial staff of the publication has the hope that each of these 3 elected women and the 98 others in the variety of offices showcased above will step up to the challenges ahead. Our hope is they will reach across the isle and put partisan ideology aside and work together as women with compassion and strength to craft policy that carries New Mexico forward into jobs creation for the 21st Century.
Each woman highlighted in this article is a woman of convictions and of talent to gain the position they have ascended to. Our hope is they will read this, remember the battles of suffrage fought by Julia Duncan Brown Asplund, Alice Paul, Nina Otero-Warren and others from 1910 that gained them the right to hold the office they are in today and the right to vote. Our hope is they will honor the memory of Soledad Chávez de Chacón by leading, not pandering to special interest and money like the men have for so many decades but by honestly leading and listening to the diversity of constituents to put them there.
Are you up to the challenge?
Rep. Deb Haaland and her ultimate successor, D-N.M., Yvette Herrell (Republican) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (Democrat) the baton was handed to you. Now are you listening? Will you reach across the diversity that is New Mexico and represent all of the diverse opinion’s ideas and constituencies? Will you step up and above the fray and show that women can lead differently and with more compassion than men? History will be judging you and we hope it will be a kind judgement in the years ahead!
Soledad Chávez Chacón: A New Mexico Political Pioneer. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Printing Services. Retrieved August 27, 2020, “Woman Wielding Power: Pioneer Female State, Legislators”. nwhm.org. National Woman’s History Museum. Retrieved 23 March 2015., “National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Salvador Armijo House”. National Park Service. October 8, 1976., knowledgecenter.csg.org, Vox Media- Here’s when you can expect racial minorities to be the majority in each state, Five Thirty-Eight Why New Mexico Elects More Women of Color Than the Rest Of The Country, EMERGE, Ballotpedia, Wikipedia, NCLS.org, nmlegis.gov, AP News, MSN.com, US.gov