Editorial: Journal continues ’20 endorsements for NM House

Today, the Journal continues its general election endorsements for the New Mexico House of Representatives. For information including candidate Q&As, district maps and news stories as they are published, go to ABQJournal.com/election2020.

District 25 – Republican, Sarah Rich-Jackson

Rich-Jackson, a Realtor and contractor, believes New Mexico must take immediate steps to improve education, overhaul the criminal justice system and create a favorable tax structure for families, businesses and retirees. “It requires a commitment to real change,” she said in her Journal Q&A.

Rich-Jackson says early childhood development should also be a top priority, and she supports exploring breaking Albuquerque Public Schools into smaller districts to reduce administrative costs.

She also supports open primaries for unaffiliated voters. “This increases the voter base, encourages participation, reduces disenfranchisement, and increases the likelihood of electing more moderate candidates,” she said in her Q&A.

Rich-Jackson faces Democratic incumbent Christine Trujillo, Libertarian Jocelynn Renee Paden and Green Party candidate Stephen Verchinski to represent the Northeast Albuquerque district largely between Carlisle and Wyoming boulevards.

District 27 – Republican, Robert Godshall

Godshall, who worked 28 years in federal law enforcement, can provide lawmakers with key insight into immigration and the impact of so-called sanctuary city policies. A former immigration officer and investigator with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Godshall says Albuquerque’s immigrant-friendly policies attract criminals who come to the U.S. illegally and put residents at risk. He cites the high-profile murder of Albuquerque’s Jacqueline Vigil in November by a man who had been deported on multiple occasions as an example.

Godshall is one of the most law-and-order candidates on this year’s ballot. A voice like his is needed in the Legislature to balance recent decriminalization and record expungement efforts. He supports minimum mandatory sentences to keep repeat offenders in jail longer, stiffer conditions for pre-trial release and cooperation between state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Godshall faces Democratic incumbent Marian Matthews and write-in candidate Jason Barker to represent part of the Northeast Heights, including neighborhoods along Academy Road NE.

District 28 – Democratic incumbent, Melanie Stansbury

Stansbury, whose fiscal management experience includes working in the White House Office of Management and Budget, told the Editorial Board the state’s antiquated capital outlay process is “crazy.” She says the process is a way for lawmakers to “bring home the bacon,” but that it’s also short-sighted and ineffective, with a lack of coordination between Albuquerque metro area lawmakers. The Journal Editorial Board supports her position to overhaul the process so that it is no longer ad hoc and piecemeal. “The time may have come, I hope,” she said.

Stansbury is also concerned about the lack of legislative oversight throughout the pandemic. She says as a result of a “weak Legislature,” the state has done an inadequate job keeping businesses open. Stansbury also wants to address structural problems with food insecurity, saying a lack of local commercial refrigerators results in 90% of locally produced food being exported.

She faces Republican Tom Stull and Libertarian Robert Jason Vaillancourt to represent the district that covers much of the Sandia foothills on Albuquerque’s eastern edge.

District 29 – Republican, Adelious D. Stith

Stith promises to hold public education accountable, if elected, something greatly needed in a state where only a quarter of fourth-graders can read at grade level and teacher unions have an out-sized voice in the Legislature. He said in his Journal Q&A education spending should be “solely focused on student outcomes, and not tied to administrative costs.”

The African American ordained minister and professional speaker also believes in school choice, one of the civil rights issue of our time. He says parents should have the right to enroll their children in schools that show student progression and not be tied to a zip code. “We must reform how our schools budget, starting with the PED, make school choice a reality for underserved communities, and secure our U.S. and New Mexico history.”

Stith also says “the governor should not have broad-base powers to dictate rights, to affect which businesses remain, nor a renewal of spending caps without the approval of the Legislature.”

Stith faces Democratic incumbent Joy Garratt to represent the far northwest Albuquerque district.

District 30 – Republican, John L. Jones

Jones says the coronavirus pandemic has magnified the state’s shortcomings in education, crime and economic development and that New Mexico needs a turnaround. He says crime, jobs and education are all interrelated and our communities are in trouble.

As a retired Navy commander and retired CEO of a regional community water system, Jones has the leadership skills needed to cut through bureaucracies and get things done. With 21 years of experience dealing with water and wastewater issues, Jones also supports water use reform as the state is running out of deep water supplies and the current water rights law encourages water use instead of conservation. Jones also helped start the successful East Mountain High charter school and supports solving educational problems at the lowest possible level.

He faces Democratic incumbent Natalie Figueroa and Libertarian Randall Sobien to represent the mid-Northeast Heights, principally between San Mateo and Eubank boulevards.

District 31 – Republican incumbent, Bill Rehm

Although he’s served in the minority for most of his 14 years in the House, Rehm has proven himself to be an effective lawmaker. The retired Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office captain and former Albuquerque Police Department officer co-sponsored bipartisan legislation signed into law earlier this year allowing judges to impose stiffer penalties for brandishing a firearm in the commission of a crime and for being a felon in possession of a gun. The bill also allows cities and counties to apply for money from the law enforcement protection fund to train officers in community-oriented policing techniques and to recruit and retain officers. It was good bipartisan legislation.

Rehm has also pushed for a drugged-driving law, increasing the statute of limitations on second-degree murder, a usable three-strikes law for violent felons and a meaningful habitual offender law. He says lawmakers did little in the special session to address the fiscal crisis and we “need to live within our means.”

Rehm faces Democrat Julie Ford Brenning and Libertarian Steven Ray Penhall to represent the Northeast Heights district centered around Sandia Heights.

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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