From top left, LWV member Lynn Jones reads questions, LWV Moderator Ellen Mills, and candidates Alexis M. Johnson, Harry B. Montoya and Angela Gale Morales. Screenshot/LADP
By BONNIE J. GORDON
Los Alamos Daily Post
The Republican candidates vying for U.S. Representative, District 3 in the upcoming primary had their turn Thursday evening during the second online Candidate Forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos.
Ellen Mills chaired the forum, with assistance from Lynn Jones.
Mills began the Forum by reading a statement from candidate Karen Evette Bedonie who was unable to participate in the forum. Bedonie lives on the Navajo Reservation in the Chuska Mountains where Internet service is sketchy at best. Because of the pandemic situation, she could not travel to another location.
Bedonie said both the lack of Internet infrastructure and the out-sized number of people on the reservation impacted by coronavirus point up how citizens who live there have been ignored by government. Bedonie said she wants to be a voice for ordinary New Mexicans in Congress.
Harry B. Montoya was born and raised in New Mexico. He has served as a Santa Fe County Commissioner and member of the Pojoaque Valley School Board. He is proud to be an active member of Knights of Columbus, Montoya said. Montoya is a former Democrat who walked away from that party when it became “more in tune with Hollywood, Planned Parenthood and the ACLU” instead of with voters like him, adding that he is pro-life.
Alexis M. Johnson also is a native New Mexican. She lives in Santa Fe.
“The New Mexico of old has been subverted by ‘a far left regime’,” Johnson said.
She wants to promote traditional values and New Mexican pride, Johnson said. She is a strong advocate of the Second Amendment and is “strongly pro-life.” An engineer by profession, Johnson said she is a problem-solver who will work to keep New Mexicans employed.
Write-in candidate Angela Gale Morales is a special education teacher in the Rio Ranch Schools. Morales said she is pro-Constitution and pro Second Amendment. She chose to run because of her anti-abortion beliefs, Morales said.
“Someone needs to be the voice of people who can’t speak for themselves,” she said.
When asked about health care, Montoya made clear he doesn’t support “Medicare for all”. He said he had heard complaints from people about “Obamacare”. He does think “we need to rework some things” to make healthcare more affordable. He pointed to Walmart as a company that is implementing a good healthcare system for its employees.
Johnson supports “a mixture of private and free market” healthcare. The free market will bring costs down, she said. Johnson wants to work to increase the quality of care for veterans and promote tele-medicine in rural areas. She would also promote the manufacture of medicine in the U.S. to reduce its high cost.
Morales claimed “Obamacare” had caused insurance costs to rise. It should be converted to a private enterprise.. Morales believes the National Laboratories have a role to play in the development of medications.
The next question asked how the candidates would address the needs of “unwanted” children.
“I was raised by my grandparents,” Johnson said. “It all starts in the home”
Education is important. Johnson said she came from a humble background, but “I’m not a victim. That’s why I’m a Republican.”
Morales touted the Heart Gallery, a New Mexico program that promotes adoption and said more programs like it are needed. She also wants to improve foster care.
“No child should feel unwanted,” she said.
Montoya said adoption must be made easier and more services need to be provided post-adoption, especially in the area of behavioral health.
“We need more foster parents to step up,” Montoya said.
When asked about helping the Postal Service, Morales said increasing rates would hurt the population. She believes the Post Office should be given the $10 million that has been discussed but no more and should be able to improve without raising rates.
Montoya supports relieving the Post Office of some of its debt. He believes funding should be targeted to rural communities who rely on it as a community center as well as to transact business.
Johnson believes there is “a lot of inefficiency” in the Postal Service. She would like the Post Office to work with private business to cut their budget by modeling efficiency.
Asked how they would reach Democrats and Independents in the district, the candidates all said their campaigns would resonate with centrists and moderates who have been left behind by the Democratic Party. As a teacher, Morales said she’s used to explaining to people why things are beneficial to them.
All the candidates said they are strong supporters of the oil, gas and mining industries.
“I’ve worked in the oil and gas industry,” Johnson said. “Thirty-nine percent of our state’s revenue comes from oil and gas. I’ll be a strong advocate.”
Johnson said, as an environmental engineer, she will promote environmental awareness within extractive industries.
Morales said she promotes oil and gas, when finding it beneficial to use other forms of energy as well in the state.
Montoya said that without oil, gas and coal extraction “the economy would collapse.” He said the environmental footprint of renewable forms of energy has not been examined and should be. Montoya pointed to the recent boom in New Mexico’s economy due to oil and gas.
When asked about income inequality in the U.S., Morales said, “People working should make more than people staying at home.” She was referring to the short-term rise in unemployment compensation provided during the ongoing pandemic. People can make more money being on unemployment than working for Walmart or Target where they are needed, she said. Morales supports equal pay for women.
Montoya said New Mexico needs to become a more business-friendly state and improve education.
Johnson said that targeted and temporary assistance are sometimes necessary, “but other than that, we need to stand on our own feet.”
She supports entrepreneurial initiatives and improvements to education, especially in the trades.
All the candidates vowed to be strong supporters of the National Laboratories. All oppose any legislation to raise the minimum wage, which they all said hurts small businesses.
Montoya and Morales support campaign finance reform. Montoya said special interests control too much of the political agenda. Johnson said she believes term limits in the House would promote getting money and influence out of politics.
All of the candidates said they support “traditional New Mexican values” in their closing statements.
“Traditional New Mexican values are Republican values,” Johnson said.
The Candidate Forums will continue Monday, with candidates for other state and local offices. All of the Forums can be viewed via the League of Women Voters of Los Alamos YouTube channel once the recordings are ready. Those who wish to participate in the event live should email firstname.lastname@example.org for the time and password.