Today, the Journal continues 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 15 – Democratic incumbent, Daniel Ivey-Soto
Ivey-Soto has been a champion for government transparency and ethics in his eight years in the state Senate, becoming a thoughtful leader in Santa Fe who can also rack up legislative accomplishments. He says it took years “to break up the mafia of local governments,” but voters can appreciate that in 2018 his Local Election Act consolidated most local elections.
The Albuquerque attorney also brokered an agreement between the House and Senate in 2019 on language creating a state Ethics Commission, co-sponsored a bill in 2016 improving campaign finance and lobbyist reporting, sponsored House legislation in 2013 requiring the posting of public meetings 72 hours in advance rather than 24, and co-sponsored legislation in June giving election officials greater flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic. His latest election initiative is to get rid of taxpayer-funded primaries, and it will take someone with his influence to get the conversation going on that proposal.
Ivey-Soto faces Republican Sandra Rausch to represent the northeast Albuquerque district that runs from Edith to Wyoming and Academy to Interstate 40.
District 16 – Republican, Chelsea Ann Flanders
Flanders, the mother of three young children, says she wants to be able to take them to a public park without being worried about needles. The stay-at-home mom wants criminals to spend more time in jail, replace GRTs with a sales tax, eliminate excessive business regulations and ensure more of the state’s educational budget goes to classroom teachers. “We are ranked 17th for funding education, but ranked 49th in success of students,” she said in her Journal Q&A. “Money isn’t going to solve the problem. We need to encourage more student, parent and teacher involvement.”
The trade-school trained cosmetologist opposes recreational cannabis, a moratorium on fracking, withdrawing more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, and “any law that would hold police and other public officials to be sued individually.”
Flanders faces Democratic incumbent Antionette Sedillo Lopez to represent the sprawling southeast Albuquerque district.
District 17 – Democratic incumbent, Mimi Stewart
Stewart, a leading voice on education with 25 years of classroom teaching experience, says at-risk children are most at risk with online learning. She proposes extending the current school year by 10 days to offset some of the learning losses, more robust summer school programs for children falling behind, and continuing to increase teacher salaries to attract and retain high-quality educators. “We should continue working toward a more multicultural focus on student achievement by improving our curriculum and using high-quality, evidence-based teacher training,” she said in her Journal Q&A.
The Democratic majority whip also says now is the time for GRT reform. “Our gross receipts tax code has too many exemptions and has a pyramiding effect on small businesses,” she said. “The GRT should be broad-based, with lower rates so that more people and businesses pay at a reduced rate.”
Stewart faces Republican Rodney Deskin to represent the east Albuquerque district roughly bounded by San Mateo and Tramway boulevards and Lomas Boulevard to Southern Avenue.
District 18 – Republican, Ryan Alexandra Chavez
Chavez may only be 27 years old, but she gained a wealth of experience as a former policy analyst for Gov. Susana Martinez and in her current job as a policy analyst and special projects manager at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
Chavez opposes raising taxes on working families and small businesses. She says comprehensive tax reform that eliminates GRTs and pyramiding could instantly make New Mexico’s economy more competitive. “We need to stop the reckless, wasteful spending we have seen in recent years,” she said in her Journal Q&A. “The economic downturn has forced New Mexicans to trim their budgets, and the state government (should) abide by the same standard.”
Chavez supports capital outlay reform, saying the current process allows for secrecy, corruption and waste. “Working in the Governor’s Office, we saw and vetoed capital outlay projects that weren’t even within the state of New Mexico. The process must transform entirely to provide transparency and accountability.”
Chavez faces Democratic incumbent Bill Tallman and Libertarian Michael Cordova to represent the Northeast Heights district that runs roughly from Academy to Constitution and Wyoming to Tramway boulevards.
District 19 – Republican, Gregg Schmedes
Dr. Schmedes, a physician, is correct in his diagnosis that lawmakers have an overspending problem and that Albuquerque could be a world-class city if crime were under control.
He wants to abolish gross receipts taxes and replace them with sales taxes. “It has become a de facto punishment for doing business in New Mexico. It’s an insidious way to tax people, and it crushes jobs,” he said in his Journal Q&A. “It’s also become too political.”
Schmedes supports giving school districts powers to make local decisions, allowing counties to choose if they want to be right-to-work or not and the advancement of more nuclear power in New Mexico. He opposes a moratorium on fracking. Schmedes also believes the governor has too much unilateral power to impose public health orders. “I support required two-thirds legislative approval for a declared emergency lasting longer than 30 days,” he said.
Schmedes faces Democrat Claudia Risner and Libertarian John Douglas McDivitt to represent the sprawling East Mountains district that runs from the Santa Fe county line to Eubank and includes Moriarty and Edgewood.
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.