Editorial: Recommendations For New Mexico Senate

FOR THE RECORD: This editorial endorsing Democratic N.M. Sen. Tim Keller for re-election in District 17 should have said he worked with the U.N. and World Bank, not for those organizations.

Here is the second of two installments of Journal endorsements for candidates in contested elections for the New Mexico Senate:

District 17 — Timothy M. Keller

Tim Keller has represented the district that straddles Central between Alvarado and Four Hills — including the International District — since 2009. In that time the Democrat has used his MBA to see important financial legislation through to law, including reforming governance of the troubled State Investment Council and ensuring businesses that are truly local get the in-state preference on public jobs.


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A native of Albuquerque, Keller brings a global view, having worked with the World Bank and United Nations in Cambodia. He understands the challenges immigrants face but has no tolerance for the fraud that plagues the state’s current driver’s license policy and supports changing it. He advocates linking teacher evaluations to student performance and ending social promotion, saying intervention in the early grades is key to student success. He says the Legislature should stop approving the class-size waiver and increase the number of classroom days so students are globally competitive. And he wants to take on the state’s Byzantine system of taxation and regulation so there is finally uniformity and a level playing field.

Keller has the empathy and education to do what’s right for his constituents. The Journal recommends they keep him in the Senate District 17 seat.

District 18 — Lisa Torraco

Lisa Torraco says she wants to serve in the state Senate because she cares about her community and wants to make a difference for her children.

Torraco, an attorney in private practice and a former prosecutor, is running for Senate District 18, which represents the middle Northeast Heights. She has devoted most of her career to being an advocate for children and victims of crime. A Republican, she was a prosecutor in the 2nd Judicial District in Albuquerque and the 1st Judicial District in Santa Fe. Torraco is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and the UNM School of Law.

Torraco says the state is broke and the education system needs repair. She says the poor economy, a tax system in need of reform and overregulation keep business away and employers from hiring. She supports reducing the tax burden on small businesses and reducing regulations to encourage more oil and gas drilling.

Torraco’s says her strength is her ability to find common ground to solve problems.

The Journal endorses Lisa Torraco for state Senate District 18.


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District 20 — William H. Payne

William H. “Bill” Payne is seeking re-election to represent Senate District 20 in the far Northeast Heights, a position he has held since 1997.

Payne, an attorney who received his law degree from the University of New Mexico, currently is the Senate Republican Whip and is the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. He is a member of the Legislative Council, the Indian & Cultural Affairs Committee and the Interim Legislative Ethics Committee, among assignments.

A retired Navy SEAL who achieved the rank of rear admiral during a military career that spanned 35 years in active and reserve service, Payne also is an advisory member of the Military & Veterans’ Affairs Committee.

Regarding education, Payne supports creating a learning environment in schools and classrooms that measures and rewards success. He says, “You get what you inspect, not what you expect.”

Payne would repeal the law that permits undocumented immigrants to receive a New Mexico driver’s license.

The Journal recommends voters in District 20 keep William H. Payne in the State Senate.

District 21 — Mark Moores


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While a novice to political campaigns, Mark Moores is no rookie to navigating politics or the Roundhouse.

A graduate of the University of New Mexico with an MBA, Moores worked for then-U.S. Rep. Steve Schiff and then-Lt. Gov. Walter Bradley. For the past six years he has led the New Mexico Dental Association and helped organize the hugely successful Mission of Mercy campaign that provides free dental care to many of the state’s neediest residents. A Republican, Moores brings that sense of urgency to his call to reform how New Mexico does business, including repealing the policy of handing driver’s license to illegal immigrants, ending social promotion and linking teacher evaluations to student performance.

Moores uses an analogy from his Lobo football days, saying the Legislature “has to stop kicking the ball down the field” and enact these and other reforms to move the state forward, including restoring equity to taxation and regulation as well as dedicating capital outlay funding to big-impact projects.

District 21 straddles the eastern Bernalillo/Sandoval county line and includes the La Cueva High School area in the Northeast Heights, as well as Sandia Pueblo and Placitas. The district has been the second-most Republican-performing district in the metro area since 2004, but in an unusual situation the incumbent is a Democrat whose name was the only one submitted by the Bernalillo and Sandoval county commissions for appointment.

The Journal recommends voters send Mark Moores to Santa Fe.

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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