Candidates Face Off At Thursday’s LWV Forum

House Dist. 43 candidates Sharon Stover (R), left, and Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D) address the audience at the League of Women Voters Forum Thursday evening at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
Community members pack the Student Center at UNM-LA for Thursday’s Candidates Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
From left, district attorney candidates Marco Serna (D) and Yvonne Chicoine (R) field questions from the audience as emcee Becky Shankland looks on during the League of Women Voters Forum Thursday at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/
Los Alamos Daily Post
The Los Alamos League of Women Voters held the first of its two Candidate Forums Thursday in the Student Center at UNM-Los Alamos.

The Forum featured candidates for State Representative in Dist. 43, Republican challenger Sharon Stover and Democratic incumbent Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard.

Stover stressed her extensive public service record and said that if elected she would, “place my community above party interests.” She said her opponent “speaks for her party and for the teacher’s union.”

“I will make decisions unbiased by party or special interests,” Stover said.

Stover suggested examining what other states are doing to improve services and save money, using this data to craft superior programs for New Mexico.

Garcia Richard had spent the previous night and much of Thursday in session with the legislature. “This was the most polarized special session I’ve ever seen,” she said. Garcia Richard said she wants to “raise the level of political discourse,” and pointed to her work across party lines on issues of economic development, education and public safety.

Education was by far the most contentious issue between the candidates Thursday night. Most of the controversy centered on HB-145, a measure which would allow individuals with a bachelor’s degree to teach as adjuncts, without education credentials or training. Garcia Richard voted against the measure. Stover supports it.

“Our kids deserve better than an unqualified teacher, Garcia Richard said flatly. This approach has been tried in other states and failed, she said.

“New Mexico is short on teachers, why not try something new?” countered Stover. She pointed to the problem of students being taught by substitutes who are not required to have a college degree, because of teacher shortages.

Garcia Richard said she stands firmly with Hillary Clinton, her party’s Presidential nominee, while Stover said she hasn’t decided who to vote for in Presidential race.

Candidates for District Attorney, Democrat Marco Serna and Republican Yvonne Chicoine faced off next.

“I believe the citizens need a DA committed to the rule of law,” Chicoine said. She said citizens need to be assured of their safety. “Those who violate our laws must be held accountable,” she said.

This accountability may or may not include incarceration, Chicoine said. She would end “selective enforcement” of the law and work to effectively prosecute misdemeanors. Chicoine stressed the role of the District Attorney as prosecutor rather than policy maker.

Serna stressed his experience as a prosecutor, working with other state agencies and nonprofits to improve law enforcement and aid victims in seeking justice. He stressed his support for tougher punishment for repeat DWI violators and his view that treatment must be made a greater part of eliminating drug-related crimes. “We need to be tough on violent crime, but we also need to be smart on crime,” Serna said.

Candidate for Probate Judge, Republican Abe Dispenette was unable to attend the forum. Independent candidate Anne Nobile, who was appointed to the post in June, read a statement emphasizing her 25 years of experience as a paralegal and her wish to serve the community. It’s important to listen and to be kind,” Nobile said about serving as Probate Judge.

John Horne and Robert Gibson debated the ballot question on whether to abolish the Office of the Sheriff in Los Alamos County. For details, click here.

A second forum is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 13 in the Student Center at UNM-Los Alamos (Bldg. 2). That forum will serve as a platform for candidates for U.S. House of Representatives Dist. 3 Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) and Michael Romero (R); candidates for County Council including incumbents Steven Girrens (R) and Peter Sheehey (D), Chris Chandler (D), Patrick Brenner (R), Jaret McDonald (R) and Antonio Maggiore (D) and candidates for County Clerk Naomi Maestas (R) and Amy Woods (D).

House Dist. 43 GOP candidate Sharon Stover listens to a question from the audience at Thursday’s Forum. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

House Dist. 43 Democratic incumbent Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard fields a question from the audience at Thursday’s Forum. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

County Council candidate Patrick Brenner (R) explains to the audience that Abe Dispennette, the Republican candidate for probate judge was called out of town unexpectedly so would not be participating in the evening’s Forum. Forum emcee Becky Shankland listens at left. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Probate Judge Anne Nobile, (I) was given an opportunity to speak to the audience but because her opponent Abe Dispennette was unable to attend Thursday’s Forum, the audience was not permitted to ask her questions. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Greg Kendall seated in the back row at the Forum appears to have a burning question. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Edward Birnbaum questions candidates during the Q&A portion of Thursday’s Forum. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Emcee Becky Shankland, right, addresses the capacity crowd gathered in the Student Center for Thursday’s Forum at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

The audience spilled out into the hall for Thursday’s League of Women Voters Forum at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

LAHS Hilltalkers keep candidates moving along in a timely manner at Thursday’s Forum. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Becky Shankland serves as emcee at Thursday’s League of Women Voters Forum at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

Nancy Birnbaum, left, and Amy Woods, a candidate for County Clerk on the Democratic ticket, chat before the Forum gets underway Thursday evening in the Student Center at UNM-LA. Photo by Carol A. Clark/

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