Today, the Journal continues its endorsements for contested races in the Metro area for the New Mexico House of Representatives. For ongoing coverage of the Nov. 8 general election, including candidate Q&As, news stories and endorsements, go to the Journal Election Guide at abqjournal.com.
Democrat Janelle Anyanonu
Anyanonu, the daughter of a Nigerian immigrant, is a financial planning office manager.
“I know what it is to live paycheck to paycheck. I know what it is to work 40 hours a week and be one car repair away from financial disaster,” she says.
As a self-described “progressive Democrat,” Anyanonu’s priorities are unsurprising: She will fight to protect abortion rights, supports the amendment to allocate money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to support more early childhood development programs and says she’ll push for more economic opportunity for residents of the International District.
Crime and homelessness are two things she sees as symptoms of a lack of economic access, mental-behavioral health and addiction treatment.
She’s a member of the New Mexico Black Central Organizing Committee and has lobbied on behalf of Black, Indigenous and people of color. She appears to have her finger on the pulse of the community and has the potential to make a meaningful difference for minorities in the Roundhouse.
Anyanonu faces Republican Kathleen Jackson and independent Enrique Jesus Cardiel.
Democratic incumbent Meredith Dixon
Dixon ran for her first term in the House two years ago on a theme of overcoming partisanship to get things done. We think she’s delivered — most of her bills have been bipartisan — and we wish more New Mexico lawmakers would aspire to her moderate, pragmatic brand of politics.
She sponsored a comprehensive crime package that didn’t go as far as she hoped, “but I would rather move forward a little than not at all.”
If reelected, she says she’ll push to eliminate mandatory pretrial interviews of child victims to limit retraumatizing them. She’ll also get behind efforts to crack down on retail crime.
Dixon wants to streamline permitting changes to smooth the transition to a clean energy economy. She says New Mexico needs to be aggressive in capitalizing on carbon capture, hydrogen development and advanced nuclear.
She’s also “disappointed” with educational outcomes. “I’m not convinced we always spend money efficiently. I’m very concerned about how we prioritize and manage” an expected budget surplus of $2.5 billion.
Dixon faces Republican Robert A. Salazar to represent the district that includes the far Northeast Heights, a portion of the East Mountains and Four Hills.
Republican incumbent Stefani Lord
Lord understands crime is a bipartisan issue that’s going to require bipartisan solutions. “I think people are ready to be tougher on crime,” she told the Editorial Board.
Lord notes crime, an unfriendly business climate and one of the worst-performing education systems in the U.S. are holding back investment in the state.
She supported a rebuttable presumption bill earlier this year, legislation that would have provided additional penalties for violent offenses and a measure that would have amended CYFD’s confidentiality clause to disclose more information. Unfortunately none of them passed.
“We cannot fix problems we don’t know exist. I support an independent and autonomous outside office to review CYFD issues, concerns and cases,” she said in her Journal Q&A.
Lord also says dry wells are huge concerns in the East Mountains and she wants to explore water options such as desalinization.
She faces Democrat Augustine Montoya to represent the East Mountains district.
Republican Alan T. Martinez
Martinez, who served 25 years with the state Department of Veteran Services, is a strong voice for veterans.
After starting as a file clerk in 1993, Martinez rose through the ranks, taking over day-to-day operations in 2009 when he was appointed deputy Cabinet secretary. He served as the department’s policy director/legislative director for 16 years, helping to pass 83 laws.
The 1982 graduate of Española Valley High School has pledged to hold town halls to hear directly from veterans.
Martinez supports repealing the state’s onerous Gross Receipts Tax system and replacing it with a simple sales tax. He also supports a much-needed overhaul of CYFD that includes better communication with law enforcement and more funding for additional social workers, a balanced energy policy that includes both renewables and the pursuit of carbon capture technologies, and limiting the scope of the governor’s emergency powers to restore the balance of powers between the legislative and executive branches.
He faces Democrat Ramon M. Montaño to represent the Rio Rancho-based district.
Republican Khalid Emshadi
When engineer Emshadi took a job with an Albuquerque solar-cell manufacturer in 2021, he discovered many of the problems he thought he left behind in his impoverished, politically unstable home country of Libya: a bad education system, rampant crime and limited economic opportunity.
“There’s no leadership in this state,” he said.
As he pursued higher education in America, he began to evaluate political parties and found the GOP to be most aligned with his values.
“Irresponsible government spending is one of the biggest issues impacting New Mexico’s economy,” he said. That’s a viewpoint lacking in Santa Fe, and we’d like to see Emshadi’s positions compete for attention in the Roundhouse.
On crime, he’s for criminal rehabilitation to address recidivism, reforming New Mexico’s bail system, and making New Mexico a police-friendly state by bringing back qualified immunity.
But his natural expertise is in energy development, and New Mexico needs more lawmakers who understand the practicalities of new energy technology.
Emshadi faces Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Thomson to represent the Northeast Heights, roughly Louisiana to Juan Tabo and Montgomery to Interstate 40.
Democrat Eleanor Chávez
Chávez has been a labor organizer, a state House representative and has served on the state Public Education Commission and the Bernalillo County Labor Board.
That’s a well-rounded record of public service that should serve her Westside constituency well.
Chávez has represented hospital workers, teachers and social workers. No surprise, then, that her platform has working-class flavor.
She would fight for more reforms in health care: lower prescription drug prices and limiting the role that insurance companies play in medical decisions.
On crime and homelessness, Chávez maintains that tackling “root causes” — poverty, substance abuse and behavioral health — is key. On New Mexico’s election laws, she says, “We need an option for automatic mail in ballots and drop boxes for absentee ballots.” She wants to protect voters and poll workers from harassment.
She faces Republican Patrick B. Sais.
Democratic incumbent Marian Matthews
Matthews, a retired lawyer and deputy attorney general in New Mexico, sponsored landmark legislation earlier this year that would have reformed pretrial detention by creating a presumption of dangerousness for defendants charged with certain violent crimes.
Although backed by Democrats such as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Second Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez, the bill died in committee.
Matthews takes issue with a UNM study that minimizes the number of crimes committed by defendants on pretrial release, noting the study only includes those who were caught a second time. She also says defendants still aren’t being adequately monitored on ankle bracelets more than a year after it was discovered that pretrial detention violations on weekends, holidays or after hours weren’t being filed until the next business day.
Matthews says a constitutional amendment may be needed to implement rebuttable presumption. Her support would be critical in getting it adopted and reducing the numbers of crimes committed by defendants on pretrial release. She also supports aggregating the value of shoplifted goods so repeat shoplifting is a felony.
Matthews faces Republican Robert Godshall to represent the Northeast Heights 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.