Letter To The Editor: Stover’s Negative Campaign Mailer

Los Alamos

I’m writing to ask Sharon Stover to stop playing politics with our local schools.

We recently received a piece of very negative campaign literature in the mail. This mailer came, not from a PAC over which the Stover campaign has no control, but rather from the Stover campaign itself (Deborah Reiss, Treasurer), which presumably means that Ms. Stover approves the message.

The mailer has one of those ugly black and white photos of a frowning Stephanie Garcia Richard, and the headline that Garcia Richard voted to take $47 million away from NM schools. The mailer mentions two separate votes that Garcia Richard took in the recent special session, making the misleading claim that Garcia Richard voted to support SB 10 and later SB 9 that together cut millions of dollars from schools statewide.

Really? Stephanie, a former teacher and current curriculum development specialist at the Pojoaque school system is voting to take dollars away from students? This is an ugly mailer, which is in stark contrast to the rather pollyanna articles and letters written about and in support of Ms. Stover that have previously appeared in the Los Alamos Daily Post. Stephanie is an educator who has worked her entire legislative career to increase funding and support for our local schools and her votes on these Senate bills are no exception. Stover’s attack mailer gets the facts and motivation wrong on both Senate bills.

One of Stover’s claims is that Stephanie voted in support of SB 9. She did vote for it, and actually crossed party lines to vote with Republicans and Senate Democrats on SB 9, because that was a way to restore $6 million in other cuts made to the school budget while fully funding CYFD’s critical child protection services. A vote against SB 9 would only have increased the size of the cuts made to our schools.

Stover’s second claim promotes the idea that Stephanie voted the Democratic Party line to support Senate Bill 10 and cut $25 million from schools statewide. 

This is where the mailer and Stover’s attacks become dangerous.

The vote in question was a proposal that the Los Alamos School Board and Superintendent asked Stephanie to support, because it would avoid large cuts to their operational budget by shifting the impact of these cuts to the less critical reserve funds account instead. With the State facing a $500+ million budget shortfall, everyone knew that schools around the State would have to give up something. As Stephanie is known for doing, she worked with our local school district to protect them from these budget cuts in the best possible way. This has been documented in articles in the LA Daily Post (link HERE) and in the Los Alamos Monitor (link HERE) that details her working with the Los Alamos superintendent on that bill.

Unfortunately, what Stover’s mailers do is to set the precedent that working with our local schools is something to be attacked. Los Alamos schools are often threatened in Legislative sessions with budget cuts and questions about any DOE funding we may receive. To attack our local legislator for working with our local schools threatens the close relationship our community needs in order to protect Los Alamos schools. It makes such cooperation a political liability for the legislator and also unfairly places the school district itself in the middle of a political fight.

I believe Sharon Stover is a good person and I know she wants to win this election. But I ask Sharon to please stop these disingenuous attacks on our legislator for working in concert with our schools and in the best interests of our children and grandchildren. I trust in her better nature to stop these false attacks.

Stephanie Garcia Richard currently sits on both the Education and Budget committees of the NM House where she is well-positioned to serve the interests of Los Alamos in general, and the schools in particular. 

I have seen Stephanie interact with both constituents and legislators over they years and I know she has done an excellent job serving as our District 43 State Representative. She is articulate, energetic, knowledgeable and has the respect of legislators on both sides of the aisle, and I will be voting to re-elect her. I hope you will join me.