February 24, 2022 – Virtual PVA

Robert Lara is seeking a judgeship

Robert Lara is running for the position created by Judge Marci Beyer’s recent retirement from the Third Judicial District Court. He has practiced law in New Mexico since 2009. His experience includes family law, election law, and civil law. Currently he is a staff attorney for the District Court. He is seeking public financing for his campaign. 

You can learn about public financing and more about Robert on his campaign website.

The Child Tax Credit really, really worked

Rich Renner of RESULTS noted that the Child Tax Credit (which expired in December 2021) helped 71,000 New Mexico families. It’s estimated that it reduced the national rate of poverty by 40%, making it the most effective anti-poverty program in decades. Rich asked that we contact Representative Yvette Herrell and ask her to support resumption of the program. (She has yet to announce her position on the program.)

For more information visit RESULTS online or send email to Rich.

Judge Casey Fitch seeks election

Judge Casey outlined his path to the practice of law. He grew up in the courthouses of rural New Mexico watching his father advocate for clients and learned from him “a profound sense of public service.” After college he went to Bosnia to work on small-d democracy and fair elections, then to the Peace Corps in Bulgaria where he saw the effects of the absence of law, then back home to law school. His legal experience includes civil and criminal work. He has served as prosecutor and public defender for the State of New Mexico. He was appointed to the Third Judicial Court in August 2021 upon the retirement of Judge Lisa Schultz.

Judge Casey is seeking public financing.

For more information visit the campaign website.

Commissioner Reynolds will be running again

Shannon announced that he is running for reelection, and in early March he will be officially announcing his candidacy for County Commission District 3. He expressed appreciation for all the support he’s been given in his first term as county commissioner. “If you guys have any thoughts, any ideas, anything that will make me a better representative as a Doña Ana County Commissioner–I welcome it!”

For more information send email to Shannon.

Actual good news from Sheriff Stewart

Sheriff Kim Stewart said that Senator Cervantes sponsored a crime bill that is now on the governor’s desk. The bill separates the Law Enforcement Board from New Mexico State police and the Board would no longer be under the thumb of the state police. “Good idea!” she said. Sheriff Stewart also noted the grave, state-wide need for more funding for behavioral health services. 

For more information send email to Kim.

Judge Gerald Baca seeks election

Judge Baca was appointed to the NM District Court of Appeals by Governor Lujan Grisham in April 2021 and is running to retain that position. He spoke [with a beautiful photo of Hermit Peak as background] of varied experience in private practice and public service. He is from Las Vegas, but work has taken him all over New Mexico and he feels that he knows the whole state well.

For more information send email to Gerald and visit the campaign website.

From the stage to the courthouse

Katherine Wray spoke of her journey from stage manager, to law school at UNM, to work for judges, to private practice, and most recently to the NM Court of Appeals (she was appointed by the governor in November 2021). “I love my job,” she said with evident conviction. She is unopposed in the June 7 primary but will have a Libertarian and a Republican opponent in the November 8 general election. She is seeking public financing. 

For more information send email to Katherine and visit the campaign website.

Justice Julie Vargas seeks election

Justice Vargas served on the NM Court of Appeals before being appointed to the NM Supreme Court by the governor in December 2020. She reminded us that judges are the last line of defense in a democracy, noting that in the last election 200 judges in 200 election cases ruled that the law matters. She also encouraged us to take the state court elections seriously: “In New Mexico more than 90% of the cases that are filed are decided by our state courts. It’s the state courts that decide what your rights are: your right to vote, your right to clean water, your constitutional rights, your personal freedoms … your rights to make decisions about your own body.” Judge Vargas is seeking public financing “because I don’t think special interests should play a part in judicial races.”

For more information visit the campaign website.

Anti-abortion activists have a target in Las Cruces

Julie Prine, a physician with Full Circle Health Center (FCHC), explained that a group called Southwest Coalition for Life has announced they will target FCHC because the center provides medical abortion services as part of their comprehensive health care. The coalition plans a “prayer vigil” for 40 days, 7am to 7pm, beginning Saturday, February 26. Julie said that since Texas enacted SB8, an anti-abortion law, women are coming from El Paso and beyond to obtain care. Julie asked for support: write a letter to the editor, come to FCHC and “be a presence for people who are pretty scared.” 

For more information, visit Full Circle Health Center and Southwest Coalition for Life. Text FCHC at 575-222-8594.

El Paso Electric is fighting over $5.7 million

Allen Downs, on whom we rely for precise and timely news about El Paso Electric and energy broadly, delivered again. EPE wants to collect an extra $5.7 million from New Mexico ratepayers because of the freeze event in February 2021. Merrie Lee Soules and the city of Las Cruces have put a lot of time and effort into showing that the extra charge is not warranted. If they prevail they will have saved us ratepayers $5.7 million. For details (proxy price, base load capacity, and Palo Verde generating units) email Allen.

Support the governor’s appointees to our courts

City Councilor Johana Bencomo served on two nominating commissions in the past year to fill judge seats on district courts. She said that in the process she became aware of serious racial and ethnic disparities in New Mexico’s prisons and jails. “We need good people on the bench, judges who understand it’s their responsibility to change this reality for so many Black, Indigenous, and Latino New Mexicans.” 

Councilor Bencomo explained that there are four statewide Democratic judges on the 2022 ballot. They were appointed by the governor and now must run to keep their seats. The four are seeking public financing. To qualify they must collect 1400 donations of $5 each from New Mexico registered voters. The deadline is Tuesday, March 1. You can make a donation by visiting the candidate website:

Justice Julie Vargas
Justice Briana Zamora
Judge Gerald Baca
Judge Katherine Wray

For more information send email to Johana.

One-stop help for candidates

Jennifer Kreie invited everyone to a petition signing event. In just one stop you can help candidates get a place on the primary ballot.

Veterans’ Park Petition Signing
Sunday, February 27, 2 to 4 p.m.

Veterans’ Park is located at 1251 N. Roadrunner Parkway.

For more information send email to Jennifer or call her at 575-571-0300.

Bringing people together in tough times

Kari Bachman described the work of Doña Ana Communities United, an organization that strives to bring people together across cultural and social divides. She invited people to participate in the organization’s Time Bank by teaching what you know and learning from others. The DACU website has a wealth of information about ongoing projects and their current initiatives: Social Equity Mapping, Mesilla Valley Time Bank, and the Just Community Radio Show on KTAL.

For more information send email to Kari or call her at 575-496-4330.

Democrats draft an “incredibly progressive platform”

ViAnn Beadle reported that the Democratic Party State Platform and Resolutions Committee has completed its work. They have prepared an “incredibly progressive platform” which will be presented at the pre-primary convention in Roswell on March 5.

For more information visit the website of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and send email to ViAnn.

Boomers (and older) Unite

Janet Darrow invited us to join Third Act, a new group that is focused on getting individuals aged 60 and older to take collective action to fight climate change, voter suppression, and racial injustice. In the United States there are 75 million individuals (about the population of France) who are 60 and older. If the progressive half of that group joined together in collective action, they could make a big difference.

The first collective action focuses on climate change and targets the four major banks that are lending trillions of dollars to companies for fossil fuel extraction. Visit Third Act online to join others in the Banking on our Future pledge.

For more information send email to Janet and visit the Third Act website.

We have to participate

Elisa Sanchez reminded us that it’s good to sign petitions and donate to candidates, but our country is in dire straits and that won’t be enough. “We’ve got to participate,” she said. “We’ve got to go to the school board meetings and the city council meetings and the county commission meetings and make our voices heard. Extremist elements in our community are organizing, and if we don’t organize and participate we’re going to be out of luck.”

For more information send email to Elisa.

PVA meets again March 24, 7pm
TBD: in-person, hybrid, or via Zoom – we will let you know