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Two Democrats out to unseat 8-year GOP incumbent in Senate District 23

Joy Garratt and Joe Chavez know what they are up against on their quests for a seat in the state Senate.

Their far West Side district, Senate District 23, is about equally split between Democrats and Republicans, but one of them will face eight-year incumbent Republican Sander Rue.

Joy Garratt

GARRATT: A longtime public educator

Joe Chavez

CHAVEZ: Retired police officer now a coach

“People tell me I’m crazy, because Sander Rue has been there for eight years, but it’s time for a change. People need change, and I’m in the race for the people and the community,” said Chavez, a retired police officer turned high school sports coach. “I want to know what’s going on.”

Garratt, a longtime public educator, echoes that, adding that Rue ran unopposed in both the primary and general elections in his most recent election in 2012.

“He (Rue) has stepped up, but people of the district really need a choice,” she said.

Like Chavez, Garratt has wanted to get into government leadership positions for years, but both said they have been busy with their careers, families and community projects.

They are also both frustrated with problems they see in their communities.

“I come to the plate as an educator. I felt like we really need people who know education in our district,” Garratt said. I got tired of writing and calling legislators and going up to Santa Fe, and people would say ‘thank you’ and then nothing. It’s so easy to criticize legislators and say they don’t understand. It comes to, are you going to run and be a different kind of legislator?”

Chavez said he comes to the campaign as a longtime police officer.

“I’ve been seeing what the issues are here with our kids with our children,” Chavez said. “A lot of our politics are staying away from the issues. The ones who are kicking in our doors, the ones who are robbing you, they all have a problem, and it won’t stop until we face the issue.”

That issue is a combination of addiction and poverty, he said.

He remembers from his time as an Albuquerque police officer that he would try to find an open bed in a drug rehab facility but often they were all full.

Garratt adds a strained educational system under the current leadership at the Public Education Department to that list of important issues.

“It’s been a very disappointing experience, especially in light of (testing) being tied to teacher evaluation,” Garratt said.

Testing, she said, is taking too much time away from teaching and it is stressing the system.

“Our instruction time really gets a bit taken out of it,” she said.

Chavez, too, said there is too much testing in today’s public schools.

“All the kids are frustrated,” Chavez said. “They don’t have times for teaching the kids. It’s too much.”