Today, the Journal endorses candidates for U.S. Congressional District 3 and Public Regulation Commission District 3. For information, including candidate Q&As, district maps and news stories as they are published, go to ABQJournal.com/election2020.
Congressional District 3
Democratic primary, Joseph Sanchez
In the Albuquerque Journal/KOAT-TV Action 7 News candidate forum Sunday, Sanchez said he had been sounding the alarm on the basic needs of Indian Country at least a year before the coronavirus. Growing up in Alcalde and working 20 years at Los Alamos National Lab as an electrical engineer before becoming CEO of Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative, he understands challenges facing Indian Country and northern New Mexico.
He is also a member of the state House and is forgoing re-election in HD 40 to run for Congress.
Sanchez has shown himself to be the most pragmatic candidate in a crowded field of high-profile Democrats seeking to succeed U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, who is running for U.S. Senate. Sanchez’s focus is fully supporting the Affordable Care Act while tackling poverty, addiction, job creation and training, and access to water, electricity and broadband internet.
Unlike many of his opponents, Sanchez has been in the political arena a short time, although he’s already had an impact. In his current term in the New Mexico House he secured funding for the first homeless shelter in Española and a rural health care clinic in Colfax County, while bringing the building trades program back to Northern New Mexico College. “I’m not a politician, but I’ve always been a leader,” he told the Editorial Board.
The soft-spoken Sanchez is the best fit for northern New Mexico. He has the potential to be a quiet, yet effective, congressman and a leader on energy policy. He seeks to get things done, not to garner headlines, which is what the 3rd District needs.
Republican primary, Harry Montoya
Montoya has dedicated his professional career to substance abuse and mental health treatment, both pressing issues in northern New Mexico, which has been hit hard by the opioid crisis. The Nambé resident has worked as a prevention coordinator for the state and also founded Hands Across Cultures, an Española-based nonprofit dedicated to disease prevention and health promotion efforts.
Montoya served on the Pojoaque Valley school board for over eight years and was elected twice to the Santa Fe County Commission, both when he was a Democrat. He says his heartfelt conviction against abortion put him over the top in his decision to switch to the Republican Party.
Montoya opposes the federal Green New Deal and state Energy Transition Act because he thinks both initiatives will worsen poverty. He hopes to bring Republicans and moderate Democrats together after the primary to represent the 3rd District, which covers northern New Mexico, including Santa Fe, part of Northwest Albuquerque and much of Sandoval County, and which runs down the state’s eastern border through Curry County.
PRC District 3, Democratic primary, Brian Harris
Harris, who has 25 years of experience regulating utilities including 13 at the PRC as a ratepayer advocate, has the background to hit the ground running at the regulatory authority without being dependent on staff. He says he’s running for the PRC to implement the state’s Energy Transition Act and to make New Mexico a national leader in clean energy.
Harris says the state’s electrical grid needs to be retooled into a two-way network to better accommodate renewable energy. He says the PRC is dysfunctional because of politics and he supports a proposed state constitutional amendment to change the five-member PRC to a three-member body appointed by the governor.
“We must replace politicians on the PRC with professionals,” he wrote in his Journal candidate questionnaire. “New Mexico is just one of 12 states that has politicians overseeing utilities.”
The winner of the Democratic primary will face Libertarian Christopher Luchini in the general election to represent District 3, which covers north central New Mexico.
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.