In less than two weeks, Rio Rancho will have another election, and it is extremely important that we all vote. We have said that many times before – enough times that we could easily be accused of being a broken record – but it is true. We need to vote. We need more than 3 percent of our population, the number that showed up for the recent school election, making decisions for all of us.
On March 6 we will elect a mayor and half of our governing body, a municipal judge, and decide whether we want to pay for bonds for roads and public safety. All those choices matter.
We are being asked to approve a $10 million bond issue to be used for road improvement and construction. This will not increase our taxes, because it is a continuation of a bond issue the citizens have already approved. We believe it is essential that this one is approved.
Too many roads in Rio Rancho are abominable, and money must be spent to repair them. The city has done an excellent job of getting some of the necessary work done, and we believe the citizens need to provide the funding to keep the work going.
The second bond on the ballot is for $4,100,000 for public safety facilities, vehicles and equipment. This measure would increase taxes about $25 for a $100,000 house. We think that it is important that it be approved.
We are fortunate to live in such a safe city and believe it is important to keep it that way. If it is necessary to spend a few more dollars to make sure our first responders have the vehicles and equipment necessary to do their jobs, then we are for it. After all, Rio Rancho is spread out and covers a lot more area than its population might indicate.
Our votes for mayor and city councilors matter, too. The entire city votes for the mayoral position but councilors are elected by the voters in their districts. These officials make decisions that make a difference in our lives, so it is crucial that we elect the best people.
On to another subject that weighs heavily on each of us: We have had 10 days to live with the horror that occurred in a Florida high school on Valentine’s Day. Families of the victims, survivors and friends have only just begun to figure out the new normal they are facing and our hearts go out to them. Not one of us can comprehend what they are enduring.
We can pray. We can sympathize. We can offer words of comfort because, after all, it greatly affected everyone. But we must also be willing to come together and work hard to determine what caused such a tragedy to occur, what exactly the problem is and what is the solution. It is far more complex than just restricting guns; if that’s all we do, we have done little except make ourselves feel better.
Gun ownership is not what has changed in the last 50 years; mass murders, especially for no apparent reason, are what has changed. We have to look deeply at the situation including guns and possible restrictions, but we also have to look at social changes, exposure to violence, families and the authorities’ role and response. Hard work and honest discussions are necessary, and there is no choice. We must throw away political rhetoric and start being honest with ourselves and each other.
This is too important to ignore. Our children’s futures are at stake.