AlamogordoTownNews.com Political Candidates GB Oliver & Amy Barela Q & A Responses & Financials

The Republican primary race between GB Oliver and Amy Barela for the 2nd District County Commission primary is the most watched race in the county and appears to have the most buzz from near and far. 

If fundraising were the measure, Mr. Oliver seems to be leading with a campaign war chest to date of $13,963,76 verses $9476.79 for Amy Barela to date.

Links to their most recent filings are below, followed by responses to the Q & A survey of questions from AlamogordoTownNews.com

GB Oliver 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution: Robert Joe Pattillo $2000, Richard A Boss $1000, Kerry Eaton $1000, Aubrey Dunn $500, James J Klump $500 (All local donors)

Loans to Campaign: GB Oliver $6063

In Kind: Justus Photography 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $13963.76

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ 8,977.79

Amy Barela 2nd District County Commission Seat Candidate

Largest Cash Contribution Self 2,562.38, Committee to Elect James Townsend Barela, Amy A. (Amy For Otero) $1000, Dustin Collins & Michael Collins $1000 each (local donors)

In Kind Justus Photography $100 

Total funds raised as of reporting period: $9,476.79

Ending Balance as of reporting period: $ $2,172.17

In April before the race got heated and in full swing, we submitted questions to all the candidates in the various races. Mr. Oliver and Ms. Barela were thorough in their execution the questions and each are very serious in the campaign for office. Both are very visible to the public and both have very active campaigns with a field of volunteers working on their behalf and with a very active social media presence. Both candidates have a unique offering and a wealth of public service experience. The question for the voters seems to come down to what is the go forward vision for Otero County that best fits the future and which candidate best represents a path forward to securing that future. What follows is the responses to our questions. We appreciate their time and dedication to allowing the public to get to know them better.

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.

Amy Barela Response:” My name is Amy Barela, and I am running to be your county commissioner in this 2022 primary election. I am a conservative that has served this county in many voluntary capacities for over 12 years. Some things I have been able to do:

  •  Bring the National Day of Prayer back to Alamogordo and for the last 5 years we have done just that.
  •  I have helped to increase our voter turnout and voter registrations in Otero County by 10%.
  •  I stood with businesses to help keep their doors open when unfair mandates jeopardized their livelihoods as well as their employees.
  • Along with a team of dedicated individuals we worked to get the county commission to designate Otero County as a second amendment county. There were 625 people in attendance when the county commission passed this resolution……… unanimously.
  •  I fought the school boards and alerted parents to the indoctrination of their children with curriculum that is fully engulfed with (CRT) critical race theory, sex education and other radical teachings parents were not aware of.
  •  These are just some of the things I have been privileged to work on with many wonderful, energetic people. I would enjoy visiting with you to listen to your concerns about the issues.

While this seems about activism, I do this to educate the community and hope to give the community a voice in all matters and issues. I try to keep the community informed because it is important for everyone to have the facts to make educated decisions. There are many resources available to us. The number one resource being you. I listen and have listened to Otero County citizens for years. The people guide me in their needs now and as your commissioner I will continue to listen to your needs.

  •  Holloman AFB is vital to our community. However, we must not put all our eggs in one basket. We must look at other ways to bring solid businesses to employ citizens in our county.
  • I understand the forestry issues adding the dumping and trash problems.
  •  I will work to protect our mountains and forest through responsible use of the land. I know how to help citizens clean up their neighborhoods caused by illegal dumping.

I am excited to address the opportunity of the American Dream, home ownership, with new laws that have been changed to allow access from counties for funding. I also have a plan to incentivize volunteers at our fire departments to allow our law enforcement to get back to being law enforcement and not first responders. I have a plan. I want the best for our county. I need your prayers in this new venture and am excited to move Otero County forward. I need your support. I humbly ask for your vote June 7th.”

GB Oliver Response: “’I’ve held virtually every position that exists in banking, including sitting as a director on the Board of Western Bank.

I was one of 3 founding members of the Paragon Foundation, an organization that provided funding and attorneys in cases defending Property and Constitutional Issues. I was named the Executive Director of the Foundation and remain in that position. The Paragon Foundation grew to have thousands of members spread across the United States. I published a Nationally syndicated Magazine on behalf of the Foundation, The Cowboy Way, that was provided to membership, as well as sold in Walmart, Barns and Nobel, Hastings, Tractor Supply, and numerous other outlets. The Foundation also carried or was the major funder of three cases heard by the United States Supreme Court, Robbins vs. Willkie, Heller vs. D.C., and McDonald vs. Chicago. Heller and McDonald are considered today to be second amendment landmark cases.

Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Alamogordo Center of Commerce where I have played a key role in solvency of a permanent status of the 3rd and 4th F-16 Squadrons, expansion of hyper-sonic weapon testing at HAFB and bringing in a regional Jet Service. I have also been actively involved in bringing a host of new business, Hotels, and a 252-unit Apartment Complex that we will be announcing shortly.”

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. If your office is judicial, please explain your judicial policies or view from the bench.

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “I have never held an elected office; however, I have been working hand and hand with Holloman leadership, acting as the liaison between Air Force and our elected officials in Washington to fund the expansion of the HAFB test track, expanding air space to assure the solvency of the F-16 mission as well has funding for state-of-the-art facilities for the MQ-9 mission. These endeavors have not only expanded the mission at Holloman but created many civilian jobs for this community.

I have also taken an active role in highlighting the NMDOD Stop Light Report regarding schools and have advocated for expansion of STEM, Career Tech, more school to work opportunities as well as higher standards.

Last year we secured 32 million dollars to be used for the design of the test track, this year we are seeking 138 million to begin construction on that facility. Those dollars will ensure that all hypersonic testing for the United States will be done at Holloman. We will be flying to Washington is the coming month to secure 58 million for the MQ-9 program and an additional 26 million through MILCON for taxi strip expansion.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off? If Judicial what ruling had the greatest impact on you when making it and why?

Amy Barela Response: “N/A”

GB Oliver Response: “As mentioned previously, the Paragon Foundation had major investments in three cases that were heard by the United States Supreme Court. Those cases were Robin vs. Wilke in 2007, District of Columbia vs Heller in 2008, and McDonald vs Chicago in 2010. I had the privilege of sitting before the Supreme Court during the oral briefs in all three cases. These cases have directly protected Americans 2nd Amendment Rights. 

I also co-authored several pieces of legislations, not only in New Mexico, but Wyoming, Arizona, and South Dakota. The most notable was the Concealed Carry Bill for the State of New Mexico, which required three legislative sessions before passing both houses and being signed by Governor Johnson.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Why are you running for office?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response: “God has placed me in arenas my whole life that have developed my skill set to ultimately lead our community to a brighter future. My time in DC fighting for the rights of Americans has given me understanding of the intricate landscape of bureaucracy. DC is a terrible place, however learning how to navigate the architecture of the system has given me the edge to propel Otero County to a fighting chance to find prosperity.

Perhaps my greatest skill is being able to bring groups of people together, for a single purpose and vision. Our goal four years ago was to bring the City of Alamogordo, Otero County, the Alamogordo Public Schools and the leadership of Holloman Air Force Base together, meeting in the same room, at the same time, with a single focus. That had never happened in the history of this community and now it happens, here in the Center of Commerce, on a monthly basis.

This is my home and my family’s home for 125 years. It is where we raised our children, owned businesses, and have been allowed to live and associate with the finest people on this earth. It would be my greatest honor, and it is time for me to give back a small part of what this community has given my family.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is your vision for the office you seek?

Amy Barela ResponseSee answer #1”

GB Oliver Response“We must be vigilant and proficient with spending taxpayer funds. A solid budget with growth factors is a must! We must expand and diversify our economic potential to GROW our way to a more fiscally responsible chapter.

Supporting our Sheriff’s Office is of utmost importance as we continue to see an uptick in crime and instability in our Judicial System. A strong emergency plan is a must. The more inflation creeps the more we need to rely on each other as a community to get through the upcoming economic crises. 

Protecting our Forest Land and water sheds with true intent. The Federal Government must be put on notice for the mismanagement of our Public Lands. This incompetence has impacted our water systems, cattle growers’ ability to maintain herds and a serious consequence for wildlife habitats and outdoor enthusiasts. 

Protect our historical and cultural backgrounds and capitalize on our strengths that we demonstrate in our community. We are unique and the rest of the Country can learn from us.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When we sit down 4 years from now what will you tell us you have accomplished while in the office you seek?

Amy Barela Response: “County Cleanup plan, road repair / development schedule, judicial complex issues to be complete or several stages through the implementation of, low-income housing 

development”

GB Oliver Response: “We have brought vision followed by action and accountability. We have brought high paying jobs, growth, educational prowess via alternative learning opportunities, a regional Jet service and now our community has seen the impact of solid leadership.”

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? 

Amy Barela Response: “Last week”

GB Oliver Response: “I met with two business owners on New York Avenue, in their place of businesses on 5/11/2022.”

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?

Amy Barela ResponseALamogordoTownNews.com note: NO RESPONSE ON THE QUESTIONARE to this question from Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “The attitudes of business owners on New York have improved dramatically over the last three years. That, in itself, opened the doors to the transition we are witnessing in our downtown. Now this community is taking that area seriously, traffic is increasing and that alone will not only bring other businesses and increased property values in that area. My family owned five business at one time on New York in the 1920’s and 30’s. It was the heart and soul of this community then…and has the potential to be that again.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program? Amy 

Amy Barela Response: “Before covid”

GB Oliver Response“2018” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Barela Response: “School Board Meetings. Often”

GB Oliver Response“In 2016 I was asked to address the returning teachers and staff for the Alamogordo Public Schools. This community learned a tough lesson regarding the quality of Public Education and its impact on the business community. The quality of our education system was one of the reasons given by the Under Secretary of the Air Force for not permanently bedding down the three F-16 Squadrons at Holloman. His quote was “we will not subject the children of the men and women at Holloman Air Force Base to a substandard education.” That is what brought the changes in our Public Schools and eventually led to a perinate bed down of the three F-16 squadrons.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center? 

Amy Barela Response“Often”

GB Oliver Response: “It was several months ago when I joined the Holloman Commander’s wives in a tour of the Flickinger.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Amy Barela Response: “Stood beside them during covid shutdowns to keep them open over big box stores. I am a job creator.”

GB Oliver Response“Everyday via the Center of Commerce…It’s what I do.”

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?

Amy Barela Response: “Remove the junk cars”

GB Oliver Response: “The Center of Commerce, for the last year and a half, has made cleaning up this community one of our priorities and to engage with the City and County in that effort. Rodney Eaton led the initiative with several “Trash Pickups,” where 160 individuals gathered on a Saturday at various locations and the results were several tons of trash removed from our highways and streets. That has expanded into Otero County’s involvement, where their personal and equipment has joined these pickups. Our Sherriff participates by patrolling the highways to slow traffic during these pickups. The City of Alamogordo has now joined this movement by condemning and removing several structures in this community each month. In fact, the city has now budgeted money this year to completely rebuild Alameda Park, turning that facility into a beautiful park that we can all enjoy and be proud of. The lesson I take away from what has transpired in the last year and a half is that one man, Rodney Eaton, had a passion to change the optics of this community and because of the close relations we have fostered over the last four years with the City and County, we live in a cleaner environment.

We have several more of these clean ups scheduled and we invite you to participate!”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Attend ribbon cuttings”

GB Oliver Response“Center of Commerce is the first interaction an incoming business has when coming into this community. At the present, I am working with two hotels, two Aerospace companies out of California, both associated with the development of the hypersonic program slated to come to the Test Track. We are entertaining three investment groups looking at apartment complex sites, that also includes the 252-unit complex mentioned previously, three restaurants, a major truck stop, an entertainment venue, and a major box store.

Housing is our highest priority and what is refreshing about the Apartment complex is that for the first time, this project has been made possible by the City of Alamogordo and Otero County working on different facets of this project to make is happen. That is a first!”

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.

Amy Barela ResponseAlamogordoTownNews.com this was left blank by Mrs. Barela

GB Oliver Response: “Not going there.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “They would certainly enhance the quality of life for those living here, however there are certainly higher priorities that need to be achieved to ensure their success.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: 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? 

Amy Barela Response: “That is everything I do often”

GB Oliver Response: “Most of my life has been dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for those living in our community. Color, culture, or sexual orientation plays no role in my world. We are all God’s creation, with certain needs, rights, and each deserves an equal opportunity. The rest is left to the courage and determination of the individual. To believe anyone, because of their color, culture, or sexual preference needs special status with government agencies is an insult to that individual’s integrity and God given gifts. I have never seen an individual, when given special status from government, that led a happier, more fulfilled life.” 

AlamogordoTownNews.com: How are you funding your campaign?

Amy Barela Response: “Self and donations”

GB Oliver Response: “The majority is my money with a few local doners”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you support a local city and or county ordinance that requires more detailed annual reporting and transparency of finances on anyone in elected office with annual reports on campaign fundraising?

Amy Barela Response: “I think the county needs to have a reporting form for each newly elected official to report any income that is received from county (ie business transactions). Campaign finance reports are filed with the SOS for anyone to review. I plan on closing my account after the election and do not see the need to fundraise during my term. I will reopen if running for re-election when time.”

GB Oliver Response: “Transparency is the only true method of moving our community forward”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Would you participate in a public drop in, questions and answers and/or a public forum hosted at Roadrunner Emporium 928 New York Avenue?

Amy Barela Response: “Yes”

GB Oliver Response: “Absolutely, Government works best in sunlight.”

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?

Amy Barela Response: “Support any and all new business.”

GB Oliver Response:” Absolutely! In a healthy community, the original business district is always the heart and soul of activity. It should be the goal of every local governmental body to maintain and foster business there because it identifies not only who we were, but who we are. I have traveled all over the United States and when I see a community downtown business district, it tells me all I need to know about the trajectory of that community.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Amy Barela Response: “Building it to be a better place for my family.”

GB Oliver Response: “The economic opportunities that are coming to this community. Make no mistake, there is rough water ahead, but there is no community that I’m aware of, better positioned to recover and excel once we see the other side, than are we.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Can you work in a bi-partisan manner with the majority party to drive more state and federal funding into redevelopment and jobs creation into the district?

Amy Barela Response:” I didn’t realize redevelopment and job creation was partisan?”

GB Oliver Response: “I have demonstrated many times the importance of finding middle ground and promoting our goals in Otero County.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com: Rather a judicial candidate or other candidate what can you do in your role to help solve the issue of homelessness and mental health patients on the streets of Alamogordo?

Amy Barela Response: “Affordable home ownership, veteran home ownership, jail rehabilitation and work programs, address drug abundance and availability with enforcement.”

GB Oliver Response: “Working collectively with our local agencies to support and find solutions will be our best method of stability for those in need.”

At AlamogordoTownNews.com, we appreciate the candidates that took the time for thoughtful responses to inform and possibly serve the public. 

Early voting has begun, get to know your candidate and come on down to the county building and vote early and let your voice be heard.

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

AlamogordoTownNews.com Mayoral Candidate Susan Payne Responds to 26 Questions

Susan Payne candidate for Mayor of Alamogordo has politely responded to our request to answer 26 questions as compiled from polling of our readers.

The race is down to two candidates as the 3rd withdrew thus the silence in response. Early voting begins tomorrow, in a race that has had no public forums other than a few meet and greets, no published position papers and no candidate websites to see a detailed plan of what a Sikes or Payne administration would mean to the city of Alamogordo and it’s citizens.

What Alamogordo is in for, is a cat fight between Nadia Sikes and Susan Payne, in what one hopes will remain a non-partisan and polite race. Will the newcomers purchasing homes and investing into Alamogordo make a difference in this race or will the machine that some say runs Alamogordo select the candidate due to voter complacency?

The next 30 days will tell the tale.

Below are the 26 questions submitted to the candidates from AlamogordoTownNews.com and Susan Payne’s responses…

AlamogordoTownNews.com

1. Provide a brief biography of your governing and business experience.


Susan Payne Response:
 “Six years as a city commissioner, 2 years on the community development advisory board. Over 30 years of corporate and small business experience including an accountant for Mazda Motor of America Corporate Headquarters, Bramalea Corporation, United Way of Otero County and more recently for the past 12 years I have built a successful non-profit whose mission is to assist those less fortunate and take people from dependence to independence. 

I hold a BS in Criminal Justice and a Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Public Management. I have been recognized with several awards including the Community Hero Award given by the NM Coalition to End Domestic Violence, The “Pursuing Excellence” award given by Love INC National and the Community Service Award given by ITA International. 

Although often asked, I do not sit on allot of boards as I take it very seriously and I just don’t believe I can be effective and still balance my personal time. I also think that
because I operate a non profit it would inappropriate to focus too much energy on raising money for other non-profits although there are a couple that my husband and I personally support.”

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...

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.”

3. AlamogordoTownNews.com What piece of legislation or ordinance have you passed that you are proudest off?

Susan Payne Response: When I was first elected to office, the police union had been working without a contract for 18 months. I’m honored to have really pushed for reasonable negotiations as part of my first few months in office and extremely proud that we were able to find resolution after all those months. Allot of what I’ve pushed for over my years on the commission is really “cleaning up” and clarifying many outdated ordinances.”

4. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Why are you running for office?

Susan Payne Response: “Before I ran for office I would spend each commission meeting literally watch commissioners argue with each other. Often the meetings would go on until midnight. I never believed that it was the way things should be done as it showed absolutely no decorum. Since my time on the commission things have changed drastically and, while we don’t always agree, we also don’t allow that to get in the way of doing what is best for our community. I believe I have allot to offer and running for Mayor will simply give me greater opportunity to do what I’ve been doing in terms of improving our city. I am passionate about economic growth and believe Alamogordo has allot of potential. I have allot of support and I can only attribute that to my work so far on the commission.”

5. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is your vision for the office you seek?

Susan Payne Response:  “My vision is to see our city grow while still maintaining that home town feel that most citizens enjoy. The Mayor is only one vote and part of the commission as a whole. Our current Mayor was a large and visible presence before the pandemic and really helped to change the tone of city hall. I would like to continue that as I work with administration and the citizens to be a leader that our community can count on to represent our city in a positive way. Alamogordo really is the total package and as Mayor I want to ensure that the rest of the state recognizes that.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: I will demonstrate the economic growth that we will have undertaken. I will be able to show a growing work force and I will also show off the arts and cultural district that I think we all have an interest in seeing enhanced.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: “I am not a big shopper however I believe it was about a month or so ago. I purchased a gift certificate from Victoria’s (one of my favorite downtown stores) and spent about 45 minutes speaking with Alice and her employees. I enjoy our downtown businesses and try to shop there first as the need arises.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: “I try to stay involved in Alamogordo Main Street and actually attended a meeting last week with state and local leadership of that organization. Before the pandemic, Mainstreet and the downtown merchants association were really beginning to thrive. There was the evening art walk once a month and I, along with MANY citizens was a regular attender. I see these types of events as truly the backbone of our community. It is a great way to not just help our merchants but to bring our community together.”

9. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Sports program?

Susan Payne Response: “I attend them all the time. My son-in-law is a football coach (Go Tigers!) and our family loves going to support our team. In addition, my grand daughter runs track and is a varsity basketball player and we are proud and devoted grandparents. Finally, Love INC (the non profit I run) is a financial sponsor of girls basketball.”

10. AlamogordoTownNews.com – When is the last time you attended a High School Academic or Arts Program? Which event?

Susan Payne Response: “I have been a judge for several spelling bees, again, our grand daughter is a National Honor Society and Golden Scholar inductee, I attend high school graduations and have also been involved with Junior Leadership Otero. This year my grandson is involved with the Chaparral Choir so I’m sure I will be attending concerts and finally I’m a huge supporter of STEM.”

11. AlamogordoTownNews.com – What is the last event you participated in at the Flickinger Center?


Susan Payne Response: “By participating I’m going to guess you mean attended? I attend most all of the Alamogordo Music theatre productions as I really enjoy musicals of any kind. I really wanted to go to the last summer series but unfortunately due to illness I missed that one. I’m looking forward to the November production of “A funny thing happened on the way to the forum.”

12. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to support local entrepreneurship and jobs growth the last 4 years?

Susan Payne Response: “I’ve devoted my entire time in office to both. Alamogordo does not lack jobs but we do lack a workforce. One of my grandkids is actually a local entrepreneur and we are incredibly proud of how hard she has worked and how successful her business has been in such a short time. My high school grandchild is actually a baker and bakes beautiful cakes. My husband and I are looking at what we can do to assist her with a facility that perhaps she can rent space in when she is baking as she gets numerous requests for her cakes. Finally, after 27 years of working for a local business in town, my husband just retired and now is a small business owner himself.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: “I would say half of the calls I receive from constituents are for code enforcement issues. This is something I take seriously as I recognize that our citizens do not want to look at unsightly properties. Having said that, I also recognize the rights of our property owners so always feel it is better to try to work with them to come to some kind of resolution. Perhaps the most notable property that the commission was finally able to demolish was the Sahara Apartments. Tinsley trailer park is finally getting cleaned up. There is a property in my district which ahs literally been a health hazard, that is finally being demolished after many years and much effort. There was a business on White Sands that I was able to get cleaned up. Many of the properties in my district we have seen drastic improvements on. I have participated in many “Keep Alamogordo Beautiful events” including painting and cleaning up balloon park.”

14. AlamogordoTownNews.com -Where do you stand on the Recall of Couy Griffin and why?


Susan Payne Response: “It would highly inappropriate and incredibly unprofessional of me to comment on this issue as Couy is a fellow county commissioner and we will continue to have many occasions where we possibly have to work together. Also, it has nothing to do with my ability to be Mayor.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: “This is an ordinance that has been enacted since the 90s. After much research I see no way to change this without doubling water and sewer rates which would cause an undue burden on our low income residence including those living in public housing. I’m open to viable suggestions.”

16. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What have you done to welcome new businesses into Alamogordo?

Susan Payne Response: “I am a member of the board of Otero County Economic Development, the chamber of commerce and I am the vice chair of Maingate United and as such I work diligently to create ways to attract new business to Alamogordo.”

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.

Susan Payne Response: “I support all of our businesses and would never pick just 5″

18. AlamogordoTownNews.com – Do you support an arts and cultural zone and diversity?

Susan Payne Response: “Absolutely. This is something Alamogordo Main Street is currently working on. I attended their latest meeting and listened to their ideas and I’m very excited to see their vision come to fruition.”

19. AlamogordoTownNews.com – 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?

Susan Payne Response: “Hmmm??? I haven’t specifically done outreach in this arena however, working in the field that I do, I have many occasions to work with many diverse groups of individuals. As Mayor I will continue to work with everyone for the betterment of our community.”

20. AlamogordoTownNews.com – How are you funding your campaign?


Susan Payne Response: “My campaign is being funded by friends and 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?


Susan Payne Response: “We already have one, so yes, I suppose, I would, since I have nothing to hide.”


22. AlamogordoTownNews.com – 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?

Susan Payne Response: “Possibly, if my schedule permits.”

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?

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 its not enough to cover all of it.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: Of course. At one time it was downtown however a couple of business owners were not happy about this and because of the way the ordinance was written, the event was moved to Alameda Park. One of those business owners has since closed shop but one is still there. I am personally not opposed to bringing this back before commission and actually talked about that at the Mainstreet meeting last week.”

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?

Susan Payne Response: “I will continue to support Alamogordo Mainstreet and their efforts including the funding that they currently receive for these types of projects. Simply put, the city already has begun this process and I support efforts made to that end.”

26. AlamogordoTownNews.com –What is the one thing about Alamogordo that excites you the most?

Susan Payne Response:  “There are lots of things about our community that excite me. The multitude of events and activities. Driving around and seeing our young people playing in our parks and green spaces. Friday night football games at tiger stadium. Early morning listening to the Tiger band practice. Enjoying a meal at a local restaurant and inevitably running into several other people I know. Working with other agencies and non-profits to assist those in need. Seeing and hearing the excitement when new businesses come to town. Maintaining our small town feel while seeing economic growth. Showing our unwavering support and pride for all things military, first responder and law enforcement related. Seeing our town come together for various parades and special events.”

AlamogordoTownNews.com thanks candidate and sitting Commissioner Susan Payne for taking the time to process the questions, with well thought out and honest answers. 

Running for political office is never easy and one’s life is put under a microscope of which some wonder, is it worth it? It takes a lot of ego and self confidence to be able to withstand the scrutiny of the voting public, social media and the press. 

Any candidate for office is to be commended, for opening themselves up to this scrutiny while running for office, and years after, as the public spotlight always follows those who were once public.  

With any set of questions, responses bring more questions for specifics in details, examples of progress and a need for more information. We hope the voters engage in dialog and follow-up with both candidates and actually get out become active and vote.

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 and always puts their constituents above their personal interest or agenda.

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

AlamogordoTownNews.com Politics: Questions for the Mayoral Candidates – Nadia Sikes Mayor Pro tempore Responds

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 Sikes Response: “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.”

10AlamogordoTownNews.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.

STAY CONNECTED! SUBSCRIBE TO FREE EMAIL UPDATES FROM 2ND LIFE MEDIA ALAMOGORDO

SIGN UP!  

Oil and Gas Industry Funding of New Mexico Politics, Follow the Money…

What is reason big oil contributes so much to New Mexico and to the southern Congressional District? 

14 Congressional Districts produced roughly 80% of onshore U.S. oil and this district inclusive of Otero county is one of those mighty 14 districts.

New Mexico following a 19th Century Budget process of 21st Century needs…

New Mexico for the long term must look at revenue options to wean itself off oil and gas tax revenues but that is an uphill battle. Republican and Democratic leadership of the state has allowed oil and gas to fund such a large portion of government operations that they are fearful to tackle the industry too much as to disrupt the tax revenues the state has become overly reliant on. Over the years, the state’s budget has become increasingly reliant on oil and gas funds. In the 2020 fiscal year, that share was about $2.6 billion — just over a third of the state’s general fund. Since 2006, the state has used oil and gas revenue for at least 28 percent of its budget and sometimes as much as 37 percent.

New Mexico is following a 19th century tax and business model for 21st Century business and public needs. In the end this is a recipe for failure for failing to adapt the model of income generation for the state. New Mexico’s dependence on natural resources has been a feature of the tax structure since statehood in 1912. As decades passed, the resources being pulled from New Mexican earth changed what was once coal, then became uranium, then natural gas and shale oil but the economic model never changed with them times. Basically, the state is running with the same tax model as it did from 1912 but is facing 21st Century needs.

But how did the state become so reliant upon oil and gas money to fund its budgets? First the history as seen above then big money influence. All one must do is to just follow the money paid to political campaigns. Where political contributions go, so goes public policy, it would seem.

Oil and Gas industry money was the largest source of state campaign contributions in 2020, according to an analysis from New Mexico Ethics Watch.

Per New Mexico’s Ethics Watch Report Titled The Continuing Influence of the Oil and Gas Industry in New Mexico in 2020: New Mexico’s Long-Standing Resource Curse…

“In spite of Covid-19 and a state wide shutdown…money from oil and gas interests to New Mexico politicians and political organizations continued to flow, with almost $3.3 million from the industry going to political causes during this past election cycle.”

Between 2017 and 2020 the old and gas industry contributed $11.5 Million to politics in the state of New Mexico.

New Mexico Ethics Watch has documented and researched 98 corporations, 262 individuals, 23 associations, 11 PACs, and almost 100 lobbyists active in New Mexico political campaign fundraising from 2017-2020.

Oil and Gas Political Spending 2017 to 2020

$4.3 MILLION – DIRECT CONTRIBUTIONS
$3.75 MILLION – LOBBYIST CONTRIBUTIONS
$3.4 MILLION – PAC SPENDING
APPROXIMATELY $11.5 MILLION TOTAL

Oil and Gas CONTRIBUTORS to new Mexico Political Circles

98 CORPORATIONS
262 INDIVIDUALS
23 ASSOCIATIONS
11 PACs
~100 ACTIVE LOBBYISTS

A detailed report on campaign money from the oil industry can be found at https://www.nmethicswatch.org/uploads/1/3/6/2/136215453/oil-and-gas-report_05012020.pdf

As was the case in the previous election cycle, the California-based Chevron corporation overwhelming was the top source of political money for New Mexico politicians in 2020, spending almost $1.8 million last year. Chevron lobbyists alone gave $700,000 during the primary to a PAC called “New Mexico Strong,” which, despite its name, is based in Texas.

Have you ever wondered why our member of congress spends so much time in Texas? Follow the money. Over 70 percent of the oil and gas contributions to politicians last year came from out-of-state companies, individuals and committees.

Top 20 Oil & Gas Contributors, 2020 Amount

1 Chevron $1,786,198.90

2 Jalapeno Corporation $142,462.00

3 Exxon Mobil Corporation $117,550.00

4 Strata Production Company $106,500.00

5 Devon Energy $102,500.00

6 Marathon Oil Company $83,500.00

7 Occidental Petroleum Corporation $76,162.50

8 PNM $61,918.18

9 Concho Resources, Inc. $59,350.00

10 Bowlin Travel Centers $57,975.00

11 John Yates $53,500.00

12 John A. Yates Sr Trust $50,000.00

13 Peyton Yates $47,500.00

14 NGL Water Solutions Permian LLC $47,000.00

15 New Mexico Gas Company $45,750.00

16 Process Equipment and Service Co $45,181.50

17 Conoco Phillips $44,500.00

18 Marathon Petroleum Corp. $40,750.00

19 Charlotte Yates $40,000.00

20 Petro-Yates, Inc. $37,000.00

With a few notable exceptions, the top contributors list is composed of corporations. There’s a reason for that. New Mexico law, unlike federal law, allows for direct contributions to candidates by corporations, associations, PACs and individuals

Grouping the oil and gas industry political contribution numbers by election cycles, we see the following amounts:

• 2015/2016: $1,697,488

• 2017/2018: $3,101,581

• 2019/2020: $3,082,830

The California-based Chevron USA is one of the best-known oil companies in the world. It’s also one of the top oil producers in New Mexico, currently holding more than 1,600 active drill permits, some that have been in use since the 1930s, according to data from the state Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department. The company also led the oil and gas sector in terms of political spending in the 2020 election cycle, just as it did two years earlier. In 2020, Chevron reported contributing $1,761,198.90 to candidates and political committees in New Mexico. Last year’s Chevron contributions came during a time in which the corporation was losing money – more than $11 billion in new income loss during the 12-month period ending in September 2020.

The top recipient of Chevron’s contributions in New Mexico last year was the political action committee New Mexico Strong, which received a total of $700,000 during the primary from the oil giant. The PAC used the money to produce ads, mailers, and other services for six conservative incumbent Democratic senators facing challenges from more liberal primary opponents. Four of those incumbents lost their primaries.

Chevron also contributed to several leadership PACs in New Mexico in the 2020 election. The company gave Republican PACs $94,300, with PAC 22, (the Senate GOP PAC) getting $50,000 and the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee receiving $44,300. But Chevron did not completely leave out Democrats during last year’s election. Chevron contributed $44,300 to the Brian Egolf Speaker PAC, $25,000 to the New Mexico Senate Democrats, $5,000 to the Senate Majority Leader PAC and $10,000 to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s MLG PAC. (The governor was not up for re-election last year.) The company also contributed to dozens of individual candidates in 2020. Chevron contributed $245,300 to Republican candidates and $108,800 to Democrats.

What is all of this money buying?

The industry’s reach stretches beyond campaign donations. Its power led to the demise of a bill that would’ve outlawed spills of produced water, a toxic byproduct of oil and gas drilling. In committee where the measure died, Cervantes blocked public comment on the measure but did give fossil fuel lobbyists a chance to explain why they opposed it, according to the New Mexico Political Report.

Oil and gas industry leaders have also been intimately involved in shaping the policies meant to regulate it – and even boasts about the number of edits it secures to new rules.

In a February presentation, the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association told its board it had secured significant changes to a proposed rule for limiting methane pollution. The state accepted more than 70 of the trade group’s redline edits, NMOGA said, according to records obtained by the Energy and Policy Institute.

The “process has been fruitful,” the group announced.

Among the fruits of NMOGA’s nearly $1 million influence campaign was greater leniency on “emergency” exceptions for venting and flaring – referring to the releasing or burning off of excess methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The Future?

With the oil and gas industry providing such a big portion of state government revenues – not to mention providing employment for so many in southeastern and northwestern New Mexico – nobody is predicting the end of fossil fuel production in this state any time in the near future nor should we.

However, what is advocated is that we as citizens need to be wary of where the big money is going. We need to hold our candidates accountable for our wishes not just the wishes of big money contributors. We need to hold candidates accountable to be in their districts in New Mexico and ensure they are representing small business and local interests not just those of big business which is donating millions of dollars to their campaigns. As citizens we need to stay active and vocal and ensure our voice does not get lost in the fray to big money and big corporate political interests.

Attend city commission and county commission meetings, attend congressional and senatorial open houses. The Governor does not make most policy it is made locally and via the legislature. Know what each level of government is up to and hold representatives accountable to represent us, “we the people.”

Alamogordo Town News Investigates: Why do homeowners have to pay for repairs to sewer connections that are in the city street and not the city?

Dear Mayor Richard Boss and Susan Payne District 3 City Commissioner and member of the Commission,

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/31293/alamogordo-town-news-investigates-why-do-homeowners-have-pay-repairs-sewer

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

https://2ndlifemediaalamogordo.town.news/g/alamogordo-nm/n/31293/alamogordo-town-news-investigates-why-do-homeowners-have-pay-repairs-sewer

New Mexico History & Politics- 1910 to 2020: 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

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 HaalandU.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 VigilNew Mexico Supreme Court Justice, ENM ’12Justice Julie VargasNew Mexico Supreme Court Justice, Statewide, ENM ’14Justice 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 ’17Judge Megan Duffy Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18; Judge Shammara Henderson New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’10Judge Jacqueline Medina New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’14Judge Jane Yohalem New Mexico Court of Appeals, Statewide, ENM ’18

State Senate

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 ’19Senator Carrie Hamblen Senate District 38, Albuquerque, ENM ’15

State House

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

Judges

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

Municipal

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

County

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

New Mexico Public Regulation Commission

Commissioner Cynthia Hall PRC District 1, ENM ’15

New Mexico Public Education Commission

Commissioner Melissa Armijo PEC District 1, ENM ’19; Commissioner Glenna Voigt

PEC District 3, ENM ’18

New Mexico County/Municipal School Boards

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

Democratic Party

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!

Author Chris Edwards

Follow Executive Coach and Author, Chris Edwards via the Alamogordo Town News, 2nd Life Media or his Podcast, 2nd
Life Media Present. Published books by Author Chris Edwards include Coach Bob Sepulveda: The Early Days, 2 Hours Unplugged Unplug and Reconnect, 90 Days to a Glass Half Full Lifestyle, and has published essays on criminal justice reform Removing Barriers to State Occupational Licenses to Enhance Entrepreneurial Job Growth: Out of Prison, Out of Work.

Research for the story above sourced from:

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