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Editorial: Congrats to the winners; now the real work starts

Election Day is behind us, which means we no longer have to suffer through the endless television commercials and countless mailers dripping with nasty political attacks.

But it also means we’ve got a new governor about to take the reins of our state, and several other elected officials who will take office or begin new terms Jan. 1. We congratulate Gov.-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham and all the other victors and offer our thanks to all who put themselves out there so voters could have a choice in who represents them at the county level, in the Roundhouse and in Congress.

And kudos to the hundreds of thousands of voters who cast ballots and the army of poll workers who safeguarded the process. In Bernalillo County alone, 61 percent of registered voters made their voices heard, a remarkable turnout, particularly in a non-presidential election year. Whether the candidates you rooted for won or lost, we can all celebrate that we had our say and our democracy is alive and well.

That’s not to say there weren’t glitches. The outcome of the 2nd Congressional District race between Republican Yvette Herrell and Democrat Xochitl Torres Small was still up in the air Wednesday evening, as Doña Ana County elections officials processed some 8,000 ballots that weren’t counted Tuesday night. That issue aside, the rest of New Mexico’s Election Day appeared to go off without much of a hitch.

It was a particularly good day for Democrats, who swept the statewide races, expanded their majority in the state House and prevailed in contested judicial and Bernalillo County races. Among those re-elected were Attorney General Hector Balderas, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg. Brian Colón was elected state auditor, while Stephanie Garcia Richard prevailed in the land commissioner race.

At the national level, Democrats took control of the U.S. House, although the Senate remains in Republican hands. New Mexico re-elected U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, both Democrats. Deb Haaland, also a Democrat, was elected to Congress and will be one of the first Native American women to hold the position.

Of course, the biggest race on the ballot for most New Mexicans was the gubernatorial contest between Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and Steve Pearce, a Republican.

Lujan Grisham’s message and energy resonated with voters, and it’s easy to see why.

She has pledged to bring different groups to the table to come up with solutions for pressing problems and to get buy-in for her initiatives. That consensus-building style is desperately needed in Santa Fe and will be useful in bringing about reasonable, moderate decisions to help move our state forward. Impressively, just hours after her win she announced former Sen. Jeff Bingaman as transition chair.

To everyone elected, we wish you luck, because the future of our state truly depends on you. Oil and gas revenues are at an all-time high, resulting in a budget surplus currently estimated at $1.2 billion, although that figure could grow substantially. That surplus has created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our state to begin addressing the many issues it faces, from crumbling infrastructure to poor national rankings in too many areas. Lujan Grisham and state lawmakers owe it to their constituents to seize this opportunity to truly move our state forward with metrics that ensure returns on investment while keeping at the forefront that this is one-time money that should rarely be used for recurring expenses. They must also keep the state’s fiscal health for future generations in mind.

So let’s celebrate the victories, set aside the animosity and get to work on addressing our state’s many challenges. There’s plenty of work to go around, and New Mexico’s future depends on it being done well.

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.