Legislators Sum Up the Session: It Was the Worst of Times
Many thanks to the legislators who were present to give us an inside look at the Legislature:
Senator Mary Kay Papen, District 32, President pro tempore
Senator Bill Soules, District 37
Representative Doreen Gallegos, District 52
Representative Bill McCamley, District 33
Representavive Jeff Steinborn, District 35
The legislators did not have a lot good to say about the session. The Real ID law was passed along with a budget and not much else. Crime bills blotted out discussion of economic growth and infrastructure, and the ethics bill failed. It was the kind of discussion that left you either feeling hopeless or else more determined than ever to work for good candidates and get out the vote.
Legislative Action Team
The Legislative Response Team sent out 11 emails during the 2016 legislative session. We responded to requests from groups such as NM Voices for Children, NM Renewable Energy Industry Association, Health Action NM, NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Think NM, New Mexicans to Prevent Gun Violence, and Invest in Kids Now. Topics of our actions included: voter registration, early childhood education, background checks for guns, school nurses, abortion, the food tax, prescription drug costs, affordable loans for state employees, public education, solar energy, and the DD waiver. We were told that Santa Fe noticed a surprising number of calls from Las Cruces, and some bills were even making their way onto the floor because of our help. Thanks for your involvement in this important Democratic process!
For more information send email to Cheryl.
What’s New with the El Paso Electric Rate Case
Allen Downs brought good news and bad from the El Paso Electric rate case. Good: the hearing examiner recommended that EPE’s requested rate increase of $8.6 million be reduced to $640,000. Bad: she recommended denying customer choice (i.e., pay less for power when you wash your clothes and dishes during the hours when demand for power is lower). Allen was the first of many speakers to urge that we let the Public Regulation Commission know our thoughts on the subject. The PRC will make a final decision in the next six weeks.
Angelica Rubio for House District 35
Angelica Rubio thanked everyone who is supporting her campaign for House District 35. She thanked PVA for providing a venue for candidates. She spoke of her passion for the time-honored grassroots activity of knocking on doors, and invited everyone to join her for the canvassing kickoff.
Rubio NM 35 Field/Canvass Kickoff
Saturday, March 5, 9:30 a.m.
Nopalitos on Mesquite
For more information send email to Angelica.
Poetry and More
Peter Goodman urged us to call or write the PRC about the EPE rate case and ask for customer choice. His Sun-News column and his blog, views from Soledad Canyon, have more details and contact information.
Peter announced three events.
- A poetry reading (he will be one of the readers) is scheduled for Saturday, February 27, from 1 to 3 p.m. at Branigan Cultural Center
- Sunshine Week panel (Peter will moderate)
- City Council work session on April 11 (Peter observed that when good people show up, good things happen.
For more information call Peter at 575-521-0424.
James Dickens for District Attorney
James Dickens announced that he is a candidate for Doña Ana County district attorney. He said he has the experience (16 years as a state prosecutor) and the heart for the job. He illustrated DA heart with a case where crimes deserved the harshest punishment and another case where rehabilitation was a top concern.
For more information send email to James.
Pat Aguirre On the Candidates She Believes In
Pat will be working as a field organizer on the campaigns of Joanne Ferrari and Wayne Hancock. She gave both candidates highest marks and invited volunteers to join their campaigns.
For more information send email to Pat.
Merrie Lee Soules for U.S. House of Representatives
Merrie Lee said that she is traveling all over New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District and getting a warm reception. She finds that people are ready for a new representative. “Southern New Mexico has been stuck for a long time, and we have to get things unstuck,” she said.
Merrie Lee [not one to make idle comments] said the election is winnable, and she asked people to invest in her campaign—money, time, talents, and getting the word out. For starters, follow Merrie Lee on Facebook and Twitter, and don’t forget to share.
For more information send email to Merrie Lee.
D’Antonio To Investigate County Treasurer
District Attorney Mark D’Antonio–speaking, he said, as a DA, not a candidate–announced that he will investigate the misconduct of County Treasurer David Gutierrez and will explore all ”civil and criminal angles.”
For more information send email to Mark.
Learning from Honest Abe
Rich Ferrary treated us to an Abe Lincoln story that offered encouragement to any current candidate who may have lost a previous race or two. The moral of the story: “Don’t worry about a few losses.”
For more information send email to Rich.
Flores for Joanne and Angelica
Yvonne Flores heaped praise on two candidates for New Mexico House: Angelica Rubio (with two primary opponents) and Joanne Ferrary. “It doesn’t get any better;” she declared, “it doesn’t get any better than these two.”
For more information send email to Yvonne.
Free Bingo, Prizes, and Candidates in District 35 Event
Charlotte Lipson announced a chance to meet all of the District 35 Democratic candidates. There will be bingo, refreshments, and amazing prizes (e.g. a recliner from Ashley Furniture).
District 35 Candidate Meet and Greet
Thursday, March 17, 6 to 9 p.m.
VFW Hall, 2001 N. Mesquite St.
For more information and to RSVP send email to Charlotte.
Non-tax Asset Building
Wacinque Bemende is looking for a few good people to work with him on an asset-building task force. Benefit would accrue to the poor and not-so-poor. He invited everyone to a workshop to learn more.
Asset Building Tax Force
Tuesday, March 8, 11 a.m. to noon
Women’s Intercultural Center
For more information send email to Wacinque and call him at 915-288-8849.
More on the EPE Rate Case
Steve Fischmann explained that in the past the city and county have not intervened in the El Paso Electric rate cases, but the current council and commission members realized that leaving the rate case hearing to the Public Regulation Commission and the attorney general was not working out very well–EPE was getting whatever they asked for. “Hats off to the city and county,” Steve said, “they did some hard work for consumers.
For more information send email to Steve.
Scott Krahling for County Clerk
Scott explained that he is running for county clerk, but he is most definitely not running against the esteemed Lynn Ellins (since Lynn is prevented by term limits from running for a third term). Scott said that the county clerk’s office has recovered from the employee criminal activity that was revealed last summer and is stronger than ever. He said the staff is always looking for ways to improve and pointed to a newly-formed election advisory council.
For more information send email to Scott.
Ray Jaramillo for NM House District 35
Ray Jaramillo announced the he is a candidate for NM House District 35, and in the next breath said he intended to carry on Jeff Steinborn’s work for the district. He mentioned adequate funding for schools, early childhood education, generating revenue by taxing legalized marijuana, and developing renewable energy sources.
For more information send email to Ray.
Take a Bow, Papen and McCamley
City Councilor Greg Smith thanked both of his state representatives—Senator Mary Kay Papen and Representative Bill McCamley—for participating in PVA’s legislative forum and for doing a great job in Santa Fe. He said that Senator Papen, who is up for re-election this year, works hard for Las Cruces, Doña Ana County, and the state as a whole. He said she knows how to build consensus and get things done with bipartisan support. In other words, she’s a first-rate politician.
For more information send email to Greg.
Glad Your Senator Isn’t a Climate Change Denier? Say ‘Thank You’
Alice Anderson asked us to call Senators Udall and Heinrich and thank them for their work to alleviate climate change. While you’re at it, ask them to support “carbon fee and dividend,” a strategy that taxes carbon-based fuel and distributes the proceeds to the public.
For more information send email to Alice and call her at 575-523-5179.
Joanne Ferrari for NM House 37
Joanne asked for support as she runs for New Mexico House District 37. She spoke of the need to invest in our community and pointed out that it’s a great place to live–an ideal climate, a rich culture, a university, and a ready workforce.
For more information send email to Joanne.
Elisa invited everyone to screening of an award-winning documentary that explores the question “Is the American dream still alive?”
Friday, February 26
Unitarian Universalist Church
For more information send email to Elisa.
Rudy Martinez for NM House 39
Rudy noted that when he was last in the Legislature he sponsored 13 bills, 7 of which were signed into law. Among them was a jobs creation bill. He reminded us that Doña Ana County has a huge role to play in regaining Democratic control of the New Mexico House. The House District 39 seat is critical, and Rudy is determined to reclaim it.
For more information send email to Rudy and call him at 575-534-7546.
Progressives at Work
Jan invited everyone to two events: 1) a rally to celebrate the fact that the Legislature did not act to reduce access to abortion in New Mexico, and 2) a concert with great songs and humor and political insight.
Coalition for Reproductive Justice Rally
Saturday, February 27, 2 to 4 p.m.
3900 block of East Lohman Ave.
Roy Zimmerman Concert
Monday, March 7, 7 p.m.
Unitarian Universalist Church
Jan announced that CIVIC (Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement) is recruiting volunteers to visit refugees in El Paso and Otero County Processing Centers. The group works to ease the isolation of detainees. Jan said there is an urgent need for a male (no need to be Muslim) who can visit a Muslim male on Friday evenings.
For more information send email to Jan.
Contact the PRC and Elect Merrie Lee Soules
Rocky Bacchus stress the need for action (call the PRC members!) regarding the El Paso Electric rate case–unless you love paying excessive rates for power and enjoy funding the construction of a massive and unnecessary new power plant.
Rocky thanked Merrie Lee Soules for her work on the rate case. He described her as smart, creative, effective, a problem solver, and a hard worker. “She would make a difference in Washington,” he said.
For more information send email to Rocky.
NMSU Hosts Sunshine Week Panel
Theresa Westbrock, wearing her NMSU librarian’s hat, (no, she did not shush us) invited everyone to the Sunshine Week panel that will explore the issue of local elections and outside funding.
Sunshine in the Shade: Uncovering Outside Influences in Local Elections
Wednesday, March 23, 5:30 to 7 p.m.
Zuhl Library, NMSU
In the final seconds of her two-minute talk, Theresa gave Rudy Martinez, candidate for NM House District 39, a rousing endorsement.
For more information send email to Theresa and call her at 575-640-1817.
Cliff Pelton, sporting some nifty Sanders swag, invited everyone to a rally to show support for Bernie Sanders for President.
Berniac Supporters Rally
Friday, February 26, 4 to 6 p.m.
For more information send email to Cliff.
John Vasquez for County Commission
John Vasquez announced his campaign for County Commission, District 5. He is a veteran, retired from the Army. He has started his campaign in Hatch, the northernmost part of District, and is calling people ahead of time, then knocking on their doors. This strategy is working for him, and he is enjoying meeting people in the district.
For more information send email to John.
Who Doesn’t Want Sunday Morning Pancakes and a Free Airplane Ride?
Bob Diven announced that the Experimental Aviation Association has a monthly pancake breakfast and it’s not just pancakes. They offer free introductory flights for youth and adults and information about home-built aircraft. You can learn all the details on their Facebook page.
For even more information send email to Bob.
Jeff Steinborn for NM Senate District 36 Senate
Jeff Steinborn asked for volunteers to help in his bid to replace Lee Cotter, current holder of NM Senate 36. Jeff vowed to continue his work for ethics reform and a clean environment. He pointed out some of Cotter’s anti-progressive positions and his score of a perfect zero from Conservation Voters New Mexico. Jeff reminded us that he will hold his traditional birthday party-fundraiser on April 7.
For more information send email to Jeff.
Good News from County Commission
Wayne Hancock, newly elected chair of the county commission, announced that he is running for reelection and welcomes volunteers to his campaign. Wayne had two pieces of exceptionally good news:
- 21 cadets were sworn in today (February 25) and became deputy sheriffs with the Doña Ana Sheriff’s Office.
- Bus service has started and is serving the south valley. The next goal is service to the north end of the county.
Wayne thanked DA D’Antonio for doing something about County Treasurer David Gutierrez.
For more information send email to Wayne.
Speaking As a Friend
Mary Lujan spoke in support of her friends who are also candidates: Oscar V. Butler (NM Senate District 37) and Michael Vigil (NM Supreme Court). “We need people like this in office,” she said.
For more information send email to Mary.
After the Buzzer
City Councilor Kasandra Gandara announced that the City will hold workshops on building healthy communities. Joanne Ferrary suggested that contacting the PRC about users choice rates would be a very good unofficial Unified Action. Councilor Gill Sorg said he has a newsletter and you can send him a request if you’d like to receive it (whether or not you are his constituent). Yvonne Torres noted that it is fascinating to see how much candidates spent in the last local election. The numbers are here.