By JAMES L. NESMITH
This is one of the most bizarre elections this nation has ever witnessed. Some decisions as to which candidate to support are amazingly easy, black and white, night and day. For others though, where both candidates are strong, have a history of public service and accomplishment, consistently represent their communities effectively and are held in high regard by their constituents and other community leaders, that decision can be agonizingly difficult.
This is the situation we face with the race for the 43rd State Legislative District. On the one hand we have Sharon Stover, who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the race, as well as a very compassionate and positive personality. On the other hand, we have Stephanie Garcia Richard, who likewise brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the race as well as a compassionate and positive personality.
Who to choose. I have been a lifelong conservative and have voted Republican in most elections, though rarely a straight ticket. I know this approaches blaspheme for some but too bad. For many, voting a straight ticket is simply an easy and convenient escape from doing their homework and from making difficult decisions on their own. But for those who care to think and truly evaluate the candidates and issues, it’s much more difficult. And sometimes it ends up in this bewildering conundrum wherein both candidates are superb.
I know both Sharon Stover and Stephanie Garcia Richard. I respect, admire and like both of them immensely. Both are unique in their dedication to community service and both have a history of accomplishments and significant contributions to our community. There may be truth in the old political saw that the incumbent always has an advantage but it is also true that the incumbent’s record is an open book. We can look at his or her record in as much detail as we could want or stand. That’s not always true for the challenger who has never served in the office being sought. It’s hard to know how the challenger would vote on issues that he or she has never faced.
In this race, I have to go with Stephanie Garcia Richard and I do so enthusiastically. She has an exemplary record of supporting two issues near and dear to my heart; education and veterans. Additionally, she is fiscally responsible, something not all Democrats can justifiably lay claim to. Stephanie Garcia Richard is very well informed on a bewildering variety of issues and she doesn’t back down from a challenge. In other words, she is audacious, courageous and smart.
I had the honor of being on the floor of the State House of Representatives when Rep. Garcia Richard introduced House Memorial 003, supporting the naming of a U.S. Navy submarine the USS Los Alamos. I was impressed by her eloquence in supporting her bill and her poise throughout the debate but I was even more impressed, much more in fact, by the high regard shown to her on both sides of the aisle. When the bill passed unanimously, there was a standing ovation. It is a memory I will cherish my whole life.
Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with other State Legislators and officials and every single time I sensed that Rep. Garcia Richard was held in high esteem and her words and actions were well regarded. When she spoke, people paid attention. This is a rare accolade for any representative, let alone a young female representative. That high esteem and regard can only come from hard work, being knowledgeable about the subject matter at hand, and having the ability to work effectively to achieve mutually satisfactory results.
The political structure in our State is renowned for its rancor and extreme political polarity, which all too often results in extreme gridlock. Things of importance to all of us simply get lost in the political tug of war. It’s a huge waste that serves no one.
Obviously, Rep. Garcia-Richards cannot resolve this by herself but she has the experience, the knowledge, the personality, the charisma and the political savvy to lead others to rise above petty politics and to lead the search for solutions to our numerous challenges in a way that is good for all New Mexicans.
I ask you to join me in voting for Stephanie Garcia Richard.