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Editorial: Journal picks for Public Regulation Commission

Public Regulation Commission, District 2

Jerry Partin, Republican

Jerry Partin
(Click on photo for Candidate Bio & Q&A)

District 2 covers a sprawling area, encompassing nearly the entire eastern half of the state, including Las Vegas, Santa Rosa, Tucumcari, Clovis, Portales, Roswell, Artesia, Hobbs and Carlsbad. The position is currently held by Patrick Lyons, who isn’t seeking re-election and is running for land commissioner. Two Republicans are running in the Republican primary, and the winner will face Democrat Kevin Sanders in the November general election.

In the contested Republican primary, Portales resident Jerry Partin is the strongest choice. He retired following a 42-year career with electric cooperatives, including 31 years as general manager with two different co-ops. He notes he has dealt with the PRC for most of his career, having participated in PRC policy task forces, rule making and cases. Given the complex and wide variety of issues the PRC handles, it’s unlikely that anyone but an incumbent could hit the ground running after being elected, but Partin’s background will make for a less steep learning curve. He also recognizes that the job of the PRC is balancing everyone’s needs while ensuring system reliability.

The Journal endorses Jerry Partin for PRC, District 2, in the Republican primary.

Public Regulation Commission, District 4

Lynda Lovejoy, Democrat

Lynda Lovejoy
(Click on photo for Candidate Bio & Q&A)

District 4 covers much of the northwest quarter of the state, including Farmington and Gallup. Incumbent Lynda Lovejoy knows the job well, having served on the PRC for 12 years, although not all of her terms have been consecutive. That experience is invaluable, given the extremely complicated matters that go before the PRC.

As a commissioner, she has represented her district well, striking that important balance between being fair to utilities and their investors and getting the best bang for the buck for ratepayers. Lovejoy recognizes a balanced portfolio protects the public and the utility from market variability. Her top priorities include ensuring system reliability and continuing to incorporate more renewables into the resource mix, and ensuring those are economical and affordable to consumers.

Lovejoy is facing two opponents in the Democratic primary. The winner is facing no Republican or Libertarian opponent in the general election.

The Journal endorses Lynda Lovejoy for PRC, District 4, in the Democratic primary.

Public Regulation Commission, District 5

Sandy Jones, Democrat

Sandy Jones
(Click on photo for Candidate Bio & Q&A)

District 5 covers most of the southwest quarter of the state, including Las Cruces, Silver City, Truth or Consequences, Deming and Lordsburg.

Incumbent Sandy Jones is finishing up his second non-consecutive term on the commission and is currently serving as the PRC’s chairman. Like Lovejoy, he has done a good job of balancing the interests of ratepayers and utility companies, forcing them to justify proposed rate increases and expenses they want to pass on to consumers. And Jones has been responsive to his constituents, holding about four dozen town halls in the communities he serves so residents can provide input on issues like proposed rate increases close to home rather than having to drive to Santa Fe to voice their concerns.

Jones says he has also worked hard to improve relationships among commissioners. And after Congress and President Donald Trump passed tax cuts that significantly reduced tax rates for corporations, the PRC made sure that PNM passed those anticipated savings on to its customers, Jones said. He is facing one opponent in the Democratic primary. The winner in that race will face Republican opposition in the general election.

The Journal endorses Sandy Jones for PRC, District 5, in the Democratic primary.

Public Regulation Commission, District 5

Joseph Bizzell, Republican

Joseph Bizzell
(Click on photo for Candidate Bio & Q&A)

In the Republican primary for this race, Los Lunas resident Joseph Bizzell is the best choice. Bizzell realizes the importance of having a diverse portfolio of energy generation, which includes coal, gas, nuclear, wind and solar. He notes that it will keep costs affordable for consumers and means a sustainable business model for utilities.

If elected, he says, he will demand accountability from providers that deliver essential services to New Mexicans, including utilities, pipelines and commercial transportation. He says he will work hard to ensure that New Mexicans are treated fairly, and he says he will be accessible to District 5 constituents.

The Journal endorses Joseph Bizzell for PRC, District 5, in the Republican primary.

These are the Journal’s recommendations for contested races in the June 5 primary for Public Regulation Commission.

The Public Regulation Commission is the elected body that regulates utilities, telecommunications and motor carriers – everything from taxis and limousines to ambulances and shuttle services. When PNM wants to raise your electric rates, it has to go before the PRC to justify it. If an ambulance company wants to set up shop in – or pull out of – your community, it needs to go before the PRC. This commission makes decisions that impact each and every one of us.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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