How many are frustrated that loved ones continue to leave New Mexico for better prospects out of state because of a lagging education system, terrible crime and suffering quality of life?
I know I am.
Over the years, I have traveled to the Santa Fe Roundhouse to advocate for local businesses. More often than not, I walked away discouraged by the partisan politics that have taken over our government. I saw many elected officials playing a game at the taxpayers’ expense. They were fighting for who was right rather than what was right, resulting in New Mexico being on the wrong end of nearly every national list.
I was so disappointed in what I saw that I considered selling my company of 31 years, TLC Plumbing and Utility, and moving my family to another state where they could thrive.
After a moment of hesitation, I thought, “You know what, absolutely not. I love New Mexico and I am not leaving.”
Instead, I have committed myself to helping New Mexico be the best it can be so that my employees’ lives will improve and my grandkids will have a place where they can stay and enjoy a great quality of life.
In April 2017, I started working on Viante New Mexico, an accountability and transparency initiative to get hard-working New Mexicans educated on state politics. With the group, my hope is that elected officials stop focusing on disagreements and instead come together on common-ground solutions.
Viante provides information in the areas where we need the most improvement: education, crime and quality of life. Together, the board and I have worked hard to develop a comprehensive scorecard for our members so they are able to make informed decisions about legislators who are actively working to improve our state and those who are satisfied with the status quo. The scorecard considers how often one’s elected official was in their seat during floor votes; if they are sponsoring common-ground legislation on education, crime and quality of life; and how they are voting on that same common ground legislation.
As a grass-roots, membership-supported nonprofit, we do not take contributions from businesses, organizations or other politically motivated groups. As such, members receive unbiased, nonpartisan information to hold state representatives and senators accountable for improving our state.
Viante is governed by a balanced and diverse board of directors, half are over the age of 40 and half are under 40. They represent a spectrum of backgrounds, industry and ideologies. Our inaugural board includes Jackie Baca, CEO of Bueno Foods; Jon Patten, co-founder of Dion’s; Gary Haman, executive with Vitalant; Tom Keleher, retired lawyer; Deena Crawley, marketing director at Dion’s; Josh Lujan of HUB International; Salvator Perdomo from Titan Development; Julian Sutter, an entrepreneur; Kelly Kern, a former teacher in rural New Mexico and now a stay-at-home mom; and finally, me.
The bottom line is that if one cares about education, crime and quality of life in the state, they must understand how elected officials are making decisions related to these issues. There’s no way to separate the two.
If individuals are waiting for circumstances to get worse in the state before becoming engaged, the moment is here. Viante has made information accessible to families, and it is only going to be impactful if citizens take it and get involved. They must go to the polls and get involved in the change they want to see.
Doing nothing is no longer an option. Please join me in creating a better place for our kids and grandkids. Let’s turn our state around. Sign up for Viante New Mexico (and) find a way forward for our state.
Learn more at VianteNM.org.