Letter To The Editor: I Know Roger…

By DANIEL T. MONTOYA
Brother of Dist. 40 Rep. Roger Montoya
Velarde, N.M.

I have known Roger Montoya his entire life.

I was there when he overcame a stutter in first grade.

I was there when he had an emergency appendectomy at the old Taos Hospital when he was 8.

I was there when he started painting at 12.

I was there when he accepted he was gay at 15 and asked his family to do the same.

I was there when he placed in the top ten in the Colorado State High School Boys Gymnastics meet.

I was there when he gave up gymnastics as he was a much better modern dancer.

I was there when he found out his partner had AIDS and died from it.

I was there when he tested positive and he feared his time to make a difference was limited.

I was there when he became a world class dancer, performing in Los Angeles, New York and Europe. 

I was there when he moved to New Mexico and found his calling as a painter.

I was there when he painted the beauty, culture and heritage of New Mexico and healed his spirit.

I was there when he came out as HIV+ and led a movement to educate young people about the disease.

I was there when he started Española H.E.L.P.S. to assist rural New Mexicans living with HIV.

I was there when he joined a group of concerned citizens to stop gravel mining in Velarde and succeeded.

I was there when he started a dance movement and showcased amazing talent across New Mexico.

I was there when he started his Arts In The Schools Program in Velarde Elementary School bringing arts and artists into the schools.

I was there when he expanded his arts program to the entire Española School District.

I was there when he wrote a grant to the State legislature, and then had to “convince” the school administrators to use the funds as intended.

I was there when he realized young people needed a sacred space to grow and he created Moving Arts Española.

I was there when MAE moved into the old casino on Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and children of all ages came from far and wide to take classes.

I was there when he enchanted a community by giving their children a place to shine, and parents and grandparents a place to show their pride.

I was there when he recycled and painted countless political signs in 2016, 2018 and 2020 to support democracy.

I was there when he challenged a false narrative about New Mexico’s history and led an effort of inclusion and cohesion to rewrite it.

I was there when he helped coalesce a group of people to establish the first homeless shelter in Rio Arriba.

I was there when he created events for students, giving them a voice to speak their truth.

I was there when he was selected as a CNN Hero and declared his love for Española on international TV with Anderson Cooper and Kelly Ripa.

I was there when he wrestled with whether or not to run for HD40, and when he decided his voice was needed.

I was there when he was attacked and maligned and when he committed to simply tell the truth.

I was there when he was elected as Representative and then spent every day since listening to the people of his rural district.

I was there when he chose his own path on difficult issues and votes.

I was there when he became New Mexico’s rural champion.

Roger is my brother. 

I hope you will vote for him as our HD40 Representative.

LOS ALAMOS

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