These are the Journal’s recommendations for Metro-area contested races in the June 5 primary for the New Mexico House of Representatives.
For complete election coverage, including endorsements, profiles and candidate questionnaires, go to abqjournal.com and click on the Voter Guide tab.
Robert “Bobby” Atencio – Democrat
Robert “Bobby” Atencio, a retired Albuquerque Police Department officer and current director of stadium operations at Isotopes park, is running to represent this Southwest Mesa district. He has the first-hand experience and background to bring “the community and law enforcement together” to fight the crime epidemic in the Metro area.
And he believes “improving our economy in New Mexico starts with ensuring our students, schools and teachers have the resources they need to learn and succeed so we have a solid foundation for the future. Secondly, I would work with schools, universities, technical institutions and the business community to create work placement opportunities.”
Atencio would seek other sources of revenue for expanding home visiting, pre-kindergarten and child care assistance before tapping the Land Grant Permanent Fund. He is one of the few candidates who support opening the state’s primary elections, “allowing voters to vote who are not affiliated with either political or major political party. Everyone should have a voting opportunity.” And he is measured on any increase to the state’s minimum wage, saying it should be at “a rate that would make New Mexico competitive with our surrounding states and allow our residents to be able to provide for their families.”
The Journal’s editorial board disagrees with Atencio’s stances on some issues – he opposes teacher evaluations linked to student progress, teacher merit pay and right to work. But the board agrees with his recognition that “all law-abiding residents of New Mexico should not live in fear because of their immigration status.” It also agrees with his positions that New Mexico should tax internet sales, and that it is essential for police reports and videos to be public.
There is no opposition for the seat in the November general election, so the winner of the primary will join the legislative class of 2019.
The Journal endorses Robert “Bobby” Atencio for House District 13 in the Democratic primary.
Merritt Hamilton Allen – Republican
Merritt Hamilton Allen, a native of Silver City and resident of Tijeras, is a public relations professional who owns Vox Optima.
Allen’s to-do list if elected to represent this East Mountains district that includes Sandia Park, Tijeras and Cedar Crest is topped by tax reform to lower rates and eliminate loopholes. No. 2 is attacking the state’s 71 percent graduation rate. After graduating from Silver High, she says she realized she was ill-prepared to master the math needed in a college engineering program, and she wants New Mexico’s students to be ready for college or the workforce, with accountability and expanded vocational and community college opportunities.
“We squander our children with low expectations and little hope,” she says, leading to a “cycle of crime and unskilled workforce.”
Allen is also a strong believer in connectivity, saying rural New Mexico cannot grow its workforce or economy without broadband. And she supports an Ethics Commission and says “the fact that this had to go to the voters after a decade of stonewalling by the N.M. Senate Democrats is one of the reasons I am running.”
Allen adds that when it comes to raising the minimum wage, “it’s counterintuitive to make it more expensive to create new jobs.” She supports merit pay for great teachers and understands that while “the financing of the Rail Runner is regrettable … abandoning transportation infrastructure is regressive and harmful to the state.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Jessica Velasquez in November.
The Journal endorses Merritt Hamilton Allen for House District 22 in the Republican primary.
Michael Joseph Meyer – Republican
Michael Joseph Meyer knows the Roundhouse – he has been a legislative analyst on the House Tax and Revenue and Business and Industry subcommittees. He is running to represent the Northeast Heights district bounded roughly by Wyoming and Juan Tabo, Spain and Lomas.
Meyer has broad professional experience, working with the extractive industries, rail, banking and investment banking, including bond underwriting of most of New Mexico’s school districts, counties and municipalities.
He says he would push for revisions to the state’s “antiquated” Administrative Code and “develop strategies to expedite the process for companies of any size to locate in New Mexico.” He has a tough-on-crime platform, but also advocates for case management with jail or treatment options. And he says it is essential to have a plan for early childhood programs before tapping the state’s permanent funds.
Meyer is one of the few contested candidates who support opening the state’s primaries and ending the disenfranchisement of 20 percent of the state’s independent voters. He also supports making New Mexico a right-to-work state to “increase economic growth here.”
The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat incumbent Rep. Liz Thomson in November.
The Journal endorses Michael Joseph Meyer for House District 24 in the Republican primary.
William B. Pratt – Democrat
Retired physician William B. Pratt is running to represent the Northeast Heights district roughly bounded by Interstate 25 and Juan Tabo, Paseo del Norte and Spain.
He says a “well educated and motivated workforce” and “low crime rate” are needed to improve the state’s economy. He supports fully funding parent coaching programs to cut the number of adverse childhood experiences, and training and educating youth for the workforce.
Pratt supports first looking at income tax rates for those earning over $200K, sin and hospital taxes and others before tapping the Land Grant Permanent Fund for home visits and parent coaching. He is advocating for a lower base rate for gross receipts taxes. And he supports legalized recreational marijuana, but says users should “get a life.”
In addition, Pratt backs more effective background checks for gun sales, along with some restrictions on so-called assault weapons.
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican incumbent Rep. Larry Larrañaga in the general election.
The Journal endorses William B. Pratt for House District 27 in the Democratic primary.
William R. Rehm – Republican
Rep. William R. Rehm has represented the Northeast Heights district bounded roughly by Interstate 25 and the Sandias, the county line and Bear Canyon, since 2006. He’s a Highland High and University of Albuquerque grad.
A retired law enforcement officer with experience wearing the uniform of both the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office and Albuquerque Police Department, Rehm is best known as a law-and-order candidate. He has tried repeatedly to get his colleagues to adopt a drugged-driving law, usable three-strikes law for violent felons, meaningful habitual offender law, an increase to the statute of limitations on second-degree murder and firearm enhancements that make a gun a “hot potato” for criminals.
Rehm opposes legalized recreational marijuana based on analyses of Colorado and Washington’s jumps in crime, and he believes the state’s new bail amendment must ensure judges are provided with defendants’ past criminal histories.
Rehm would continue pushing his crime initiatives, as well as efforts to keep retirees – especially lab retirees – in New Mexico, business-friendly legislation like right to work and streamlined fingerprinting for professional licenses, and education reform like teaching job skills in night school at state prisons. He supports the accountability in teacher evaluations and merit pay.
The winner of the Republican primary will face Libertarian William Wiley Jr. in the general election this fall.
The Journal endorses William R. Rehm for House District 31 in the Republican primary.
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.