Trujillo, who has said he’s up against the party establishment, referred to “special interests” trying to impact the election. And while audience members couldn’t ask about it, Romero made sure to remind the crowd gathered at a Pojoaque school building about recent allegations of sexual harassment against incumbent Trujillo.
“It is incredibly hard for women who have been sexually harassed or abused to come forward,” Romero said during her opening statement. “And there is no place for sexual harassment in government or anywhere.”
In early May, a lobbyist accused Trujillo of sexually harassing her during the 2013 and 2014 sessions and retaliating against her when she rejected his advances. An internal House panel is set to investigate the accusations. Trujillo has denied them, calling them “vicious and politically motivated lies.”
During his opening statement, Trujillo said his “people before politics” mission has caused him to accrue enemies, specifically citing his stances in favor of non-Indian residents who opposed a water rights settlement with area pueblos and pueblo claims to road rights-of-ways that provide access to non-Indian homes in northern Santa Fe County.
“You start to make adversaries when you do that,” he said.
He also said his enemies have promoted “outside groups” to try to influence the June 5 Democratic primary election.
“This all gets down to integrity,” he said. “Please don’t let the special interests tell us who to represent us.”
One of the audience questions asked the candidates to disclose how much money they had received in tribal contributions. According to the latest campaign finance reports, six pueblos – Ohkay Owingeh, Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambe, Isleta and San Ildefonso – donated to Romero’s campaign. When Trujillo said he said received none, audience members broke out in applause.
However, Romero said the vast majority of her donations are from individual residents, saying following the forum that she wants “to represent all constituencies in the district.”
Romero did directly attack Trujillo on his voting record, including voting for bills supportive of the telecom industry. Trujillo responded that she was “skewing the facts” and that the telecom bills had broad support among Democratic legislators.
Several audience questions were directed to the issue of right-of-way easements across tribal land. Both candidates said they would fight for an agreement for the 10 percent of non-tribal homeowners who didn’t receive right-of-way and title insurance security through an agreement the pueblos and federal government made with county government earlier this year.