Editorial: Journal begins endorsements for NM Senate

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

District 9 – Republican, John Stahlman Clark

Clark, the owner/operator of a small, family-owned custom window covering company, understands the needs and concerns of the small business person.

His attitude toward the state’s capital outlay process has evolved in favor of a committee to evaluate proposals, and his opposition to the governor’s public health orders has softened as the pandemic stretches into its seventh month. “Maybe there wasn’t so much over-reach,” he told the Journal Editorial Board. “The governor did what she did for the safety of New Mexico.”

Clark says crime remains the top issue and he wants to increase funding for police departments and hire more police officers. He also wants to push for lower taxes, school choice and road projects, and address bail reform to prevent “a revolving door.”

He faces Democrat Brenda McKenna to represent the district that covers Corrales, Bernalillo, Placitas and parts of Rio Rancho.

District 10 – Republican incumbent, Candace Gould

Gould, the executive director of a nonprofit group that helps foster children, says that’s where her “heart and soul is.” Gould lists as one of her top accomplishments co-sponsoring a bill enacted earlier this year that raises the eligibility for foster care adults from 18 to 21. She says the new law allows teenagers to finish their high school educations in foster care homes, rather than suddenly facing adulthood alone at the age of 18. “I’m very proud of that bill,” she told the Editorial Board.

While she has shown a penchant for bipartisanship, Gould says many state lawmakers have been excluded from decisions related to the pandemic and have therefore been unable to effectively represent their constituents. Once the public health crisis has stabilized, she says she would support legislation that gives lawmakers a voice in the state’s public health orders. She says her main concern now is an economic recovery, and in that arena her accomplishments include expanded professional licensing for military families and a bill that paves the way for 5G cell service.

She faces Democrat Katy Duhigg to represent the district that includes parts of northwest Albuquerque, the city’s North Valley and Rio Rancho.

District 11 – No endorsement

The Journal is unable to endorse either incumbent Democrat Linda Lopez, whom the Journal disagrees with on most issues, or Republican challenger Marylinda Price, who did not respond to the Journal’s Q&A or announcement to schedule an endorsement interview.

District 12 – Democratic incumbent, Gerald Ortiz y Pino

Ortiz y Pino, chair of the Senate Public Affairs Committee, is in a key legislative position for the advancement of legislation, most of which is initially assigned to his committee.

The retired social worker has become a leading lawmaker over the course of his 16 years in the state Senate. He supports lengthening the school year to improve learning gains and a complete overhaul of the state’s gross receipts tax code, eliminating many of the current exemptions for special interests. “It is highly regressive, imposing a higher burden on lower-income families,” he said in his Journal Q&A. His leadership will be needed to finally replace GRTs with a modernized sales tax.

While Ortiz y Pino supports a moratorium on fracking, we hope he will continue to be open-minded and rethink his blanket opposition to fossil fuels until renewable energy sources are capable of meeting the nation’s energy needs.

He faces Republican Lisa Meyer-Hagen to represent the south-central Albuquerque district.

District 13 – Democratic incumbent, Bill O’Neill

O’Neill told the Editorial Board the state Senate needs to keep its bipartisan tradition and he’s committed to solving problems in a bipartisan manner. Earlier this year, he co-sponsored a version of the Opportunity Scholarship Act, legislation proposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that as passed will pay the tuition and fees for certain students to attend public colleges and universities in the state.

O’Neill supports removing many of the carve-outs and exemptions in the gross receipts tax code, transparency in capital outlay, criminal justice reform that attacks recidivism and opening primaries. “Our democracy is better when more people participate, and shutting out independents and DTS voters from our primaries discourages overall participation,” he said in his Journal Q&A. He also believes the state is fortunate to have a thriving oil and gas industry and says lawmakers “need to proceed carefully” on any proposal to ban fracking.

He faces Republican Michaela Chavez and Libertarian Frederick Snoy to represent the northwest Albuquerque district.

District 14 – Democratic incumbent, Michael Padilla

Padilla is a prolific lawmaker, having introduced 33 bills and memorials in the 2020 regular session, including bills to exempt Social Security benefits from state income taxes and the bill that was enacted providing extended foster care for eligible adults between 18 to 21. Having grown up in foster homes, Padilla understands the unique challenges foster children face and he did something about it. He has a right to be proud of Senate Bill 168, which is already assisting more than a hundred New Mexicans in foster care between 18 and 21.

The vice chair of the Senate Education Committee says he’s gotten a lot done in eight years in the Senate, including CYFD reform, expanded broadband internet access and rewriting telecommunications laws. He also hosts a massive job fair every year, bringing employers to the unemployed, and hosts three town halls per quarter to hear the concerns of his constituents. It’s those kinds of extraordinary efforts outside of legislative sessions that make him a constituent-minded senator who deserves to be re-elected.

Padilla faces Republican Mary Kay Ingham to represent the southwest Albuquerque district.

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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