By Rep. Susan Herrera
New Mexico House District 41
As a first term legislator, I have decided to endorse Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo over incumbent Senator Richard Martinez for Senate Seat 5 in the upcoming Democratic primary.
This is not a decision I have made lightly. I have consulted with my precinct chairs in 20 out of 25 precincts in my district and with major supporters in my first campaign.
I ran because I thought we needed new leadership in the New Mexico House of Representatives, and I challenged a 25-year incumbent because I thought that change was needed. As I approach the end of my first two-year term, I have concluded that we also need new leadership in the Senate.
We need Senators with new ideas and new energy to tackle what will be a monumental task of surviving the Pandemic. Somehow, we will need to cut the budget meeting state obligations while simultaneously maintaining solid Democratic values. Then, execute the reopening, plan for the recovery, restart the state economy, and get back to growth.
I’ve been watching the Senate 5 race closely, and while Richard is running on what he’s done, Leo is talking about what needs to be done. Leo’s not looking at the past, he’s looking at the future: economic recovery, affordable housing, land and water rights, and education. He hit the ground running as a new county commissioner: giving worn-out county employees their first raise in 12 years, tackling the contaminated plume under the City of Espanola, taking on the Sonic Corporation, which had planned an expansion threatening local acequias. Take this challenger seriously.
In 2018 Rio Arriba elected Leo Jaramillo over popular incumbent Alex Naranjo. They said you couldn’t beat a Naranjo in Rio Arriba.
There’s a new wind blowing in the north, and it’s called change. In 2018 four new representatives were elected in the north. They were Christine Chandler, D-43 of Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, and Santa Fe; Joseph Sanchez, D-40 of Rio Arriba, Colfax, Mora, and San Miguel; Andrea Romero, D-46 of Santa Fe; and myself, Susan Herrera D-41, of Rio Arriba, Santa Fe, and Taos. It’s fair to say that the 2018 elections marked the beginning of a new political era in Rio Arriba County.
Change is still the operative word in the north. With Joseph Sanchez dropping out of the NM Legislature to run for the 3rd Congressional seat, a new seat has opened in the 40th District. I am fully supporting Roger Montoya for District 40 in the House of Representatives. Imagine a CNN Hero in the NM Legislature! Taos Representative Dan Barone, D-42 has decided not to seek re-election and Democratic candidate Kristina Ortez seems headed for that opening.
People will tell you that seniority is the most important tool in the political toolkit. And while I agree that it’s important, Richard has lost his seniority status by losing the chairmanship of the Judiciary because of his DWI conviction and censure by the Senate. If the north is to have a strong delegation they need a team of dedicated legislators that will work together to form a strong alliance representing the interests of Northern rural communities.
I bear Richard Martinez no ill will. He’s a good man and he has done good things for the north. There’s no doubt about that. Someone told me, “Richard did a lot of good things for the North, but somehow he got lost.” We’re going to need the strongest leadership possible during this time of dramatic uncertainty. And our future is at stake.
This is not the politically correct thing to do. It’s customary for incumbents in both parties to remain silent about other elections. It is an unofficial privilege of being an incumbent. There are no rules, just a pattern and practice. I’m going against this practice because I think this Senate election will dramatically shape the future of Northern New Mexico. And for that reason, I strongly endorse Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo for Senate District 5.