A recent mailing by the Sharon Stover campaign highlights portions of a 2011 Monitor article where I am quoted complimenting her on her leadership abilities. Indeed, while Ms. Stover and I served on the County Council, I saw her work tirelessly as council chair on behalf of our county, and it was a pleasure and an honor to serve with her. Every word that was quoted of me is accurate and heartfelt. Moreover, she displayed the political courage to cross party lines and vote to appoint me to Council. Sharon is a dear friend and a role model to me. Nevertheless, it is troubling to be featured in a political mailing where the intent, in my view, is an implicit endorsement of one candidate over another, and in a competitive race this implication will be buttressed if I were to remain silent.
In fairness then, I want to share my similar respect for our current Representative, Stephanie Garcia Richard. I have had the pleasure of working with Ms. Richard in several areas, and two specific successful efforts come to mind where she displayed effective advocacy for Los Alamos. One was the recently passed amendment to a local economic development state statute that will provide our community additional flexibility in attracting retail, hotel and other businesses to our downtown. She shepherded this effort through the legislature effectively and successfully with the help and support of many local leaders across the political spectrum. Another was a resolution passed unanimously by both legislative chambers to support naming a Navy submarine the USS Los Alamos, in recognition of the efforts of our community and the surrounding region on behalf of our nation’s security.
We Los Alamos citizens are in a rare circumstance of a choice among two highly qualified, effective, thoughtful and dedicated public servants. It is disgusting to me that the records of both of these respected members of our community have been distorted by outside PACs whose concern is not at all the wellbeing of Los Alamos, but only the larger issue of control of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
As a member of local government, I have seen the current legislature enact poorly written laws that were rammed through at the last minute of the session, with extremely costly and unintended consequences to towns, cities, and counties across our state. I have seen an obsession with avoidance of logical legislation that rises above partisan doctrine, the poster child being a state gas tax among the lowest in the Southwest, that has not been updated in over 20 years, resulting in crumbling roads and bridges. An even more consequential example is a reduction in distribution of tax income to local governments, forcing these local entities to raise taxes and take the “political hit,” instead of the state rising to the challenge of making the hard decisions themselves.
My only area of agreement with these outside PACs is that the leadership of the House is critical to the future of our state, and with the partisan legislature we have now, its power over committee assignments, scheduling of legislation and other parliamentary procedures may be obscure but critical to the passage of laws. Although our candidates are willing to cross the political divide, this is not the case in general, and especially divisive is the Governor’s Office. Even with its failings, I believe the state Democratic party is more appreciative of the critical role that the national laboratories play in economic development, more deferential to teacher and parental role in our children’s education, more respectful of diversity and voter’s rights, and more visionary about the role good government can play in bringing our state up from the bottom of so many lists.
This unfortunate partisan reality is a compelling reason for me to choose among two candidates who are individually highly qualified, but are not equivalent when placed in the larger political landscape we face now. I urge you to vote for the Democratic candidate and our incumbent, Representative Stephanie Garcia Richard.