PVA Meeting Recap – October 24, 2013

Lynn Ellins Explains Marriage Equality Journey

Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins talked about the process that led to him being the first county clerk in New Mexico to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. (It was tried briefly in Sandoval County in 2004, but a court ordered the clerk to stop.) Read the New York Times detailed account of the issue here. (The Times has covered the issue extensively including reporting by Heath Haussamen.)

Lynn said that since August over 900 marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples. Three three counties began issuing licenses voluntarily and five more did so by court order. The New Mexico Supreme Court will now rule on whether same-sex unions in New Mexico will be the rule of law. Their decision is expected by the end of the year.

Additional Links
NPR: How a County Clerk Ignited the Gay Marriage Debate in New Mexico
New Mexico High Court Debates Gay Marriage

Unified Action: Talk to 5 Friends about the Municipal Election

Cheryl Frank, coordinator of the unified action, explained that we have the same unified action before every election because it works. The action is simply to talk to five friends about the election and tell them what candidates you support. Cheryl reminded us that our friends, neighbors, and coworkers may be completely unaware of this municipal election. They may appreciate knowing who to vote for and also when are where to vote. Offer a helping hand.

For more information send email to Cheryl and check out the complete unified action information including candidates and polling places.

Merrie Lee Soules Is Candidate for the PRC

Merrie Lee Soules announced that she is running for the Public Regulation Commission, District 5. She cited her training as an engineer, her managerial experience, and her commitment to renewable energy.

For more information send email to Merrie Lee or call her at 575-635-2225.

Council Candidates Will Air Their Views

Peter Goodman, cohost of Speak Up Las Cruces, announced that the candidates for city council are scheduled to appear on the morning talk show. He invited listeners to call in (575-523-1450) with smart questions.

Speak Up Las Cruces, 8 a.m. weekdays
KOBE Radio 1450AM
Friday, October 25, District 6 candidates
Wednesday, October 30, District 5
Thursday, October 31, District 3
Call-in number 575-523-1450

For more information send email to Peter Goodman.

Better and Smarter Ideas for the Gila River—NOT a Pipeline

Gary Camuñez spoke as an advocate for the Colorado River, noting that the river is endangered. He pointed out that the Gila River, New Mexico’s last free flowing river is a tributary of the Colorado. He called the proposal to build a pipeline to divert water from the Gila “a very expensive band-aid.” Conservation measures would accomplish the same goals, would not endanger the rivers, and would not cost a fortune.

For more information send email to Gary or call him at 561-702-3772.

[The Gila River was the topic of September’s featured presentation. Here is an excerpt]:

For more information and to take action, visit the beautiful and content-rich Web site of the Gila Conservation Coalition.

Additional information can be found here at the Southwest Environmental Center Web site.

Last, but not least, a 9th grader in Silver City has initiated a petition addressed to the Interstate Stream Commission asking that the Gila River water not be diverted and piped to Deming (by way of the copper mines near Silver City) in order to facilitate development. You can add your name to the petition.

Casa de Peregrinos Needs Donations for the Holidays

Mary Lujan reminded us that Casa de Peregrinos will need to feed many hungry people for the holidays and the winter months. They welcome cash donations as well as turkeys. Mary offered to take donations, and you can make a donation online at Casa de Peregrinos.

For more information send email to Mary.

Judge Wingenroth Likes His Job, Hopes to Keep It

Kent Wingenroth said he thoroughly enjoys his job and would like to keep it. He thanked PVA for giving him support in the past, especially when he was brand new to campaigning. He brought a petition for signatures so that his name can be placed on the ballot.

For more information send email to Kent or call him at 575-649-3121.

Mario Jimenez Speaks Out for Big Brothers Big Sisters and Secretary of State Candidate

Assistant Chief County Clerk Mario Jimenez explained that the clerk’s office has a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters and said the group is always looking for mentors who can give a little time to make a big difference in the life of a young person.

Mario introduced Maggie Toulouse Oliver, currently clerk of Bernalillo County and candidate for New Mexico secretary of state. He endorsed her wholeheartedly.

For more information send email to Mario.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver Is Running for Secretary of State

Maggie began by relating that PVA is “legendary” up and down the Rio Grande Corridor and assuring us that she understood the group’s 2-minute rule.

Maggie cited her 7 years’ experience as clerk in Bernalillo County and her passionate commitment to fair elections. She wants to bring competent, professional, nonpartisan leadership to the office of secretary of state and to insure that every voter has a fair chance to vote.

For more information send email to Maggie or call her at 505-270-9125.

CAFé Is Working to Raise the Minimum Wage and Much More, As Usual

Sarah Nolan, executive director of CAFé, noted a few recent accomplishments. For example, the group registered 1100 new voters and turned out 700 unlikely voters for the 2012 election. They are working on immigration policy and applications for Medicaid expansion. They are working to see that raising the minimum wage to $9/hour is on the ballot in Las Cruces in 2014. Sarah invited those interested in the minimum wage issue to attend a working meeting.

Raise the Wage Las Cruces
Organizational Meeting
Thursday, November 7, 7 p.m.
First Christian Church

For more information send email to Sarah or call her at 575-520-1624.

Councilor Pedroza for District 3

Councilor Olga Pedroza welcomed volunteers to help with her get-out-the-vote effort in District 3. She will be contacting voters on Sunday, November 3 and Monday, November 4 and would be pleased to have help.

For more information send email to Olga.

Las Cruces Climate Group Is Going Strong

Vince Gutschick reported that the newly formed Las Cruces chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby is making progress in a number of ways. For one thing, they have inspired El Paso to start their own chapter. They welcome new members to the group and are working to find a meeting time that will work best for the most people. The group is part of a national network that is firmly focused on empowering individuals and creating the political will to pass consumer-friendly legislation that limits carbon emissions.

For more information send email to Vince or call him at 575-571-2269.

Everyone Has a Stake in Education

Patrick Nolan, an organizer for the American Federation of Teachers in New Mexico invited everyone to a town hall meeting on education. He stressed that the entire community—not just parents and students and staff—has a stake in education. The current way of responding to one crisis after another doesn’t work, he said, and a better way is possible when everyone has a seat at the education table.

Town hall meetings on education are being held all around the state. Everyone is invited to the Las Cruces town hall.

Keep the Promise for New Mexico’s Future
Southern Region Town Hall
Wednesday, November 6, 6 p.m.
Good Samaritan Society

For more information send email to Patrick.

United Nations Climate Report Is Huge

John Nelson, co-chair of Las Cruces Citizens Climate Lobby, explained the enormous importance of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Sponsored by the United Nations, the panel is a worldwide committee of hundreds of scientists. Every five or six years they issue a major report (five reports since 1990) synthesizing the best scientific knowledge on climate change. The reports are important to policy makers around the world as well as to advocacy groups like the Citizens Climate Lobby. Their latest report (issued in October 2013) focuses on the physical science of climate change and makes the strongest warnings yet about the effects of human-caused warming. Reports to be issued in 2014 will focus on the mostly likely impacts and possible steps to limit the damage.

For more information send email to John or call him at 575-524-0663.

Additional Links
U.N. Climate Panel Endorses Ceiling on Global Emissions
Environmental Protection Agency, Climate Change

Councilor Sorg

Gill Sorg thanked those who have given him “overwhelming support” and thanked his sister for sending a contribution along with the sentiment: we need honest people in government. He spoke with conviction about the positive future that is possible for Las Cruces.

For more information send email to Gill or call him at 575-644-0660.

Former NFL Star Meggyesy Speaks at NMSU

Rus Bradburd , author, teacher, and coach, invited everyone to attend a talk by former N.F.L. star David Meggyesy, once a linebacker for the St. Louis Cardinals. After he left the team, he wrote Out of Their League, a controversial memoir about his experiences in football. He has taught courses at Stanford on the sociology of sports, coached high school football, and served as a union representative for the National Football League Players Association.

Sport and Social Change
David Meggyesy, guest speaker
Tuesday, October 29, 5 p.m.
Health and Science Building, NMSU

For more information send email to Rus or call him at 575-527-2477.

Rep. Pearce Is Cosponsor of Nightmare Immigration Legislation

Brian Erickson of the ACLU’s Regional Center for Border Rights spoke of the provisions of H.R. 2278, the “Strengthen and Fortify Enforcement Act” known misleadingly as the SAFE Act. The bill is out of committee and could be put to a vote in the House. Brian warned that it would be an unprecedented and costly shift of responsibility for immigration enforcement to states and local jurisdictions. It would destroy the trust that local law enforcement agencies strive to cultivate with the communities they are sworn to “serve and protect.” State revenues would be diverted to enforce the SAFE Act. Rep. Pearce is a cosponsor of this piecemeal, punitive approach to immigration reform.

To learn more about this legislation and to ask questions, send email to Brian or call him at 575-527-0664.

Additional Links
The Immigration Policy Center analyzes the SAFE Act in layman’s terms
The ACLU’s Regional Center for Border Rights in Las Cruces.

Tim Keller for State Auditor in 2014

Tim Keller introduced himself as a State Senator famous for running a lot of legislation. He is seeking the position of state auditor, where his goals would be cracking down on fraud, preventing abuses, and promoting transparency and accountability in government.

For more information send email to Tim or call him at 505-400-0415 and visit the campaign Web site.

Check Out iCivics.org If You Care About Citizenship

Martha Loustaunau urged us to check out a cool Web site created to teach students about American government and civil society. She urged us to be advocates for civics education in the schools. The cool Web site is iCivics, which has educational video games and teaching materials for a  comprehensive, standards-aligned civics curriculum. It’s all free and the brainchild of former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.

For more information send email to Martha.

Las Cruces Hosts 3rd Annual Sustainable Energy Conference

Lawrence Rael returned to PVA not as a candidate, but as president of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce and issued an invitation to the group’s third annual conference.

Renewable Energy Conference
Sponsored by New Mexico Green Chamber
Friday, October 25, all day
Ramada Palms Hotel

For more information send email to Lawrence or call him at 505-228-1263.

Word of Mouth Works for Local Elections

Don Kurtz expounded on this month’s Unified Action, which involves talking to friends, neighbors, and coworkers about the candidates you support in the municipal election. He said that we pick who we will vote for in local elections the same way we pick our plumber, our dentist, and the person who cuts our hair—we take the advice of people we know and trust.

Don recounted the story of a famous mayoral election that no doubt hinged on the “talking to 5 friends” Unified Action. One hundred people sent “I did it!” messages indicating that 500 friends had been contacted. The mayor’s race was won by less than 100 votes. Don stressed the fact that very few people vote in city elections—no more than 1 in 10 voters actually makes it to the polls. The people we elect will transform the reality of our city. Being involved is what we can do right now.

For more information send email to Don.

42nd Annual Ren Faire in Young Park

George Griffin invited everyone to the Ren Faire, which is the major fund raising event for the Doña Ana Arts Council. There will be artists, craftspeople, musicians, Magellan the Dragon, roasted turkey legs, and more.

42nd Annual Renaissance ArtsFaire
Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3
Young Park

George also vouched for iCivic, spoken of earlier by Martha Loustaunau, and seconded Martha’s concern about the urgent need for civics education.

For more information send email to George Griffin.

Southern New Mexico Needs a Representative Who Will Create Jobs

Leslie Singh, candidate for the House of Representatives, District 2, spoke of the urgent need for jobs in Southern New Mexico. She said that we have lost 101,000 jobs since the recession of 2008, and new jobs pay less than the jobs that were lost. When workers can’t earn a living wage, families break up, creating a host of additional problems. She added that immigration reform would be a boost to our economy.

For more information send email to Leslie and follow her on Facebook.

State-of-the-art Voting Machines Are Coming to Doña Ana, but When?

Scott Krahling, supervisor of elections for Doña Ana County, said that Secretary of State Dianna Duran has notified the county clerk that new voting machines will be arriving for the 2014 election. She just hasn’t said when. Scott said the new and improved machines will be a welcome improvement, and community education sessions will be planned as soon as the arrival date is known. Dominion Voting makes the machines and you can check them out online.

For more information and to make election suggestions send email to Scott.

PFLAG Celebrates Marriage Equality

Sue Brown invited everyone to PFLAG’s fundraiser and celebration of marriage equality. They will honor Lynn Ellins for his decision to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. There will be food, a cash bar, a silent auction, a raffle, a Newlywed Game, and a lot of fun. Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at Spirit Winds.

PFLAG Fundraiser Celebrating Marriage Equality
Saturday, November 9, 6 p.m.
NMSU Golf Course

For more information send email to Sue or call her at 575-522-4056.

pva-nm.org Is Up and Running Again, at Long Last

Judy Zimmerman announced that PVA’s Web site is now live at its new location. There are still a few bugs in the system, but all the content is available–9 years’ worth of recaps and unified actions. Judy said she will work to increase traffic on the Web site and to add useful features. She welcomed questions, suggestions, and constructive criticism.

For more information send email to Judy.

Keller Will Be a Great Auditor and Please Sign His Petition

Justine Freeman spoke in support of Tim Keller and Maggie Toulouse Oliver and asked that we stick around and sign their nominating petitions after the meeting. Justine said she has worked for Tim during legislative sessions and can attest to his progressive credentials and 6 years’ of solidly progressive votes.

For more information send email to Justine.

Candidate Cobb Wants To Get Out the Vote in 3-way Race

J. Mark Cobb thanked supporters and said that the canvassing in District 6 was going well. He said that voter turnout will be key in the 3-way race in his district

For more information send email to Mark or call 575-680-2551.

Don’t Procrastinate, Vote Now

Charlotte Lipson urged everyone to vote early. If you’re not sure who to vote for in the Municipal Judge race, don’t worry about it, she said, they both sounded pretty good at the candidate forum.

For more information send email to Charlotte.

Vote Now, Really

Jane Asche invoked the in-case-you-get-hit-by-a-Mac-truck argument for early voting. She endorsed Mark Cobb for city council, promising that he will carry on Sharon Thomas’s tradition of excellence. She also endorsed Merri Lee Soules, saying “We couldn’t have a better person running for PRC.”

For more information send email to Jane or call her at 575-532-8087.

Gmail Tips from Our Favorite IT Expert

Theresa Westbrock explained that Gmail is redirecting PVA’s emails, which are sent via Constant Contact, to the “Promotions” section of your inbox. To remedy this annoying situation, simply find a PVA email and drag it to the “Primary” section of the inbox.

For more tips send email to Theresa.

Health Security Gets Along Fine with Obamacare

Maury Castro assured us that Health Security for New Mexicans gets along just fine with the Affordable Care Act. States are allowed to design their own healthcare solutions as long as the benefits are equal to or better than the ACA. The Health Security plan would provide the most cost effective and comprehensive benefits for New Mexicans.

For more information send email to Maury.

The Final Push

Pat Aguirre said volunteers would be welcomed with open arms for a final walk to contact undecided voters in District 6 and for the get-out-the-vote effort.

Big Walk for Mark Cobb
Sunday, October 27, 2 to 4:30 p.m.

Get Out the Vote/Door Hangers for District 6
Sunday and Monday, November 3 and 4

For more information send email to Pat or call her at 575-532-5127.

Councilor Sorg Welcomes Volunteers for GOTV

Joanne Ferrary invited supporters of Gill Sorg to participate in a person-to-person campaign, talking with voters in District 5. To participate send email to Joanne or call her at 575-649-1231.

Hang with the Sorgs on Election Night

Christine Sorg invited everyone to join Gill and her for a gathering at their home on election night.

Election Night Gathering at Gill Sorg’s
Tuesday, November 5, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. or later
1140 Hermosillo Drive

For more information send email to Christine.

Chaparral Will Have a Mobile Voting Unit

Marielena Johnson announced that the Otero County side of Chaparral, site of the 4-hour voting lines in the 2012 election, now has a mobile voting unit.

Otero County Democrats recently held their first Chaparral meeting with 40 people in attendance. Marielena invited everyone to join them for their November meeting.

Chaparral/Otero County Democrats
Thursday, November 14
Southside Fire Station

For more information send email to Marielena.

Meet Maggie at Milagro’s

Ariel Bickel, a community and political organizer from Albuquerque, enthusiastically supports Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state. Ariel reported that Maggie’s first words to her were, “Every single eligible person should be able to vote.” Ariel invited everyone to meet Maggie and “restore your faith in the election system.”

Meet and Greet with Maggie Toulouse Oliver
Friday, October 25, 8:30 a.m.
Milagro Coffee

For more information send email to Ariel or call her at 505-321-6867. By the way, Ariel was involved in the 2012 get-out-the-vote efforts in Chaparral. She is featured in this video (at 1:50) coverage of the long lines.

Lynn Ellins Endorses Maggie Toulouse Oliver

Lynn Ellins said that the guiding principle for everyone responsible for elections must be “Fairness to everyone.” He said he was sure Maggie Toulouse Oliver would meet that standard, and he endorsed her without reservation for the job of New Mexico secretary of state.

For more information send email to Lynn.

Update from Rep. McCamley

Bill McCamley came straight from the “Look who’s Dancing” rehearsals in order make it to the last PVA meeting of 2013. Bill thanked Lynn Ellins, Mario Jimenez, and Scott Krahling for their work on marriage licenses for same-sex couples and said that working with them has been a privilege. [Here is a speech Bill made in Santa Fe, on the floor of the NM State House, in support of marriage equality.]

Bill reminded everyone that the next New Mexico legislative session, just one month long, is coming up in January.

For more information send email to Bill or call him at 575-496-5731. Check out his legislative page here. During the session, go here to watch/track bills as they go through the legislative process.

Government Like It Should Be

Bob Diven, endorsed Humanist Clergyman, explained that he performed over 90 marriages at the county clerk’s office, an experience that gave him an opportunity to see how the office operates. “At a time when it’s popular to be angry at government, it’s wonderful to see how great the county clerk’s office works,” he said. He said that everyone in the office does a great job and people are leaving having had a positive experience with a governmental entity. Bob used the words warmth, respect, and professionalism to describe the clerk’s staff.

Bob noted that Representative Steve Pearce has a Facebook page and suggested that it’s probably more effective to use Facebook to contact him, rather than try to contact him via his congressional Web site.

For more information send email to Bob.

Conrad Perea Is Running for Magistrate Court

Conrad Perea is running for magistrate court judge. He said that serving on the court (the busiest in the state) has been an honor. He asked for support and for signatures on his nominating petition. [Editors’ Note: Are you as confused as we are about nominating petitions? Secretary of State Duran has prepared a document to explain it all.]

For more information send email to Conrad or call him at 575-621-9427.

PVA Takes a Break in November and December
We Meet Again
Thursday, January 23, 2014, 7 p.m.
Munson Center

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