The unprecedented public health and economic challenges facing our state are immense. And on Nov. 3, the message sent by New Mexico voters was unmistakably clear: To address these challenges, they expect our newly elected Legislature to enact bold, forward-thinking solutions.
One thing this clarion call for boldness means is that next month, our Legislature must not backslide into the “business as usual” approach imposed by a handful of well-positioned leaders in the state Senate – leaders who were all soundly repudiated by voters at the polls this year.
For too long, the hopes of everyday New Mexicans and the initiatives of reform-minded legislators have been blocked by this small circle of out-of-touch leaders whose main motivation was to advance the priorities of big out-of-state corporations and special interests.
It is little wonder then that far too many of our fellow citizens have arrived at a cynical conclusion about their Legislature in particular and all government in general. To them it all comes across as an insider’s game where success is determined not by what you know, but who you know.
Rather than less government, New Mexicans are crying out for an effective, solutions-oriented government that serves their interests instead of those of well-connected insiders.
The next leadership of the state Senate will determine whether a new approach to governance will be possible. Will the old insider game once again prevail, or will a fresh crop of bold leaders emerge? In answering this question, the community must have a seat at the table.
Our votes are our voice, and New Mexico families voted their values. Their mandate is clear. The next leaders in the New Mexico State Senate must embody these community values. And we believe they should have a track record of actions, not merely rhetoric, that demonstrate they possess the following traits:
• Prioritize more equity for all New Mexicans, regardless of race, class, gender, or gender identity.
• Promote a more transparent legislative process, and especially a more transparent budget process.
• Be accessible to all New Mexicans.
• Represent all New Mexicans, and not just those with money and power.
• Act with courage. This means showing a willingness to take on and move bold policies.
We believe the New Mexico Senate leadership should center all policy proposals around the real needs of hard-working working families:
• Developing and promoting a new, bold economic model for New Mexico that creates jobs that we’d want our kids to get: jobs with good pay and opportunities to advance. It’s time to focus on industries that make communities stronger and healthier, and that is not overly reliant on oil and gas.
• Fully funding early childhood education to create the programs that will prepare our children at an early age to succeed in their development, disrupting the cycle of poverty that afflicts our communities.
• Supporting workers’ rights, including domestic and immigrant workers.
• Supporting comprehensive health care access for all.
• Respecting our reproductive health decisions.
• Protecting our climate, air, land and water for present and future generations.
• Ensuring the democratic process, and elections in particular, are open and accessible.
The new Senate leadership must embody these values and focus on these policy priorities. We call on senators to act with courage by honoring the will of the people and voting for leadership that reflects New Mexico’s basic value of respect for all people and addresses the unique needs of communities by ensuring everyone has a seat at the table.
Now is the time to begin bold, long-term investments needed to help families break the cycle of poverty by building prosperous communities with strong schools, and growing jobs that let people get ahead.