Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Struggling New Mexicans to Rep. Pearce: Stop Supporting Tax Breaks for Big Oil

OLEdigitalboard

Above:Billboard campaign highlights Pearce’s support for big-oil tax breaks while New Mexicans struggle to fill their tanks

(LAS CRUCES) – New Mexicans who are struggling to fill their tanks today contrasted the high cost average New Mexicans are paying at the pump with Big Oil’s $137 billion in pure profits in 2011.

Standing under a billboard asking Rep. Steve Pearce to stop supporting tax breaks for the big-oil industry, average New Mexicans talked about their economic struggles. Since February of 2011, Pearce has voted 8 times to protect oil-industry tax breaks.

“It’s unreal – we pay high prices and the oil and gas companies get away with huge profits at our expense. What’s more? They also get $4 billion in tax breaks supported by Rep. Steve Pearce,” said Las Cruces resident Christian Gomez. “Imagine, that money could be used to do all sorts of things like help people with disabilities, especially our disabled veterans who struggle to find jobs in this economy."

The billboard, which is part of a multi-media effort sponsored in part by the Organizers in the Land of Enchantment (OLÉ) Education Fund, aims to call attention to how ordinary New Mexicans are paying the price for oil-company tax breaks and educate the public about politicians who are consistently voting to preserve tax breaks for an industry that raked in $137 billion in profits in 2011 alone.

"New Mexicans need to know that they are not only getting ripped off by high gas prices, they are also being robbed when they pay their taxes as incredibly profitable oil companies get away with billions in unfair tax breaks," said Las Crucen Gloria Gutierrez-Taylor. "This is money that could be going toward education and raising up our community.”

OLÉ Education Fund is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization committed to empowering and improving the economic well-being of working New Mexicans.

May 8, 2012 at 02:00 PM in Dona Ana County, Economy, Populism, Las Cruces, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima Endorses Martin Heinrich for U.S. Senate

Heinrich profile speakingYesterday, City of Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima announced his endorsement of Martin Heinrich in his campaign for the U.S. Senate. Mayor Miyagishima was elected Mayor of Las Cruces in 2007 and was re-elected with 62 percent of the vote in a three-way contest in 2011.

In a statement announcing his support, Mayor Miyagishima praised Heinrich’s commitment to fiscal responsibility, “I’ve met Martin and we share a commitment to solving our budget crisis with common sense and fiscally responsible reforms like PAYGO. Martin has never been afraid to make the tough decisions necessary to cut budget deficits and maintain vital services for our seniors, children, and working families here in New Mexico.”

In Congress, Heinrich is an original cosponsor of legislation to reestablish the statutory “pay-as-you-go” (PAYGO) requirements that helped turn deficits into surpluses during the 1990's under the Clinton Administration. Reinstating the budget discipline of PAYGO is based on the simple principle of paying for what we buy.

“Mayor Miyagishima’s leadership is making a big difference for the people of Las Cruces and I’m honored to have his support,” said Martin Heinrich. “Ken has kept Las Cruces moving forward during tough financial times and made smart investments in the future by exercising sound stewardship of public funds. He knows how to work cooperatively with the city council, local businesses, and coalitions – that’s the kind of leadership the people of New Mexico need.”

Mayor Miyagishima joins more than 60 local leaders across New Mexico who have endorsed Martin Heinrich for Senate. Heinrich’s campaign for the United States Senate has also received strong and early support from a variety of organizations such as labor unions, environmental groups, and advocates for senior citizens. For more information on Martin Heinrich’s campaign, please visit www.martinheinrich.com.

April 18, 2012 at 09:42 AM in 2012 NM Senate Race, Candidates & Races, Las Cruces, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Attorney General Asked to Investigate Dona Ana DA Campaign Practices

Amy orlandoAlleged violations of campaign finance laws by DA who said “I will not pick and choose the laws I will follow”

New Mexico Attorney General Gary King has been asked to initiate an investigation into campaign practices by Dona Ana County District Attorney Amy Orlando after a mailer and her website were identified as violating New Mexico’s campaign finance laws.

As Dona Ana County District Attorney, Amy Orlando is used to seeing the inside of a courtroom.  But a recent political mailer from her campaign may give her a totally new perspective: that of criminal defendant.

A recent mailer from Orlando to prospective voters and supporters failed to disclose the name of the person or group behind printing the mailer.  Similarly, her campaign website, www.amyorlandoda.com, fails to disclose the person or group responsible for paying for and publishing the site.  According to New Mexico law (NMSA 1-19-16), failing to disclose either the printer of mailers or persons responsible for paying for campaign advertising and communications is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 18-months in jail.

Just last week, Orlando told the Las Cruces Sun-News, “[a]s district attorney, I can not and will not pick and choose which laws I will follow.”  Ironically, under the law, Orlando is responsible for investigating and prosecuting violations of this type.

On Thursday, ProgressNow New Mexico formally requested that Attorney General Gary King launch in inquiry into Orlando’s campaign practices.

The mailer is an invitation to attend a fundraiser headlined by Governor Susana Martinez on Friday.

Orlando was handpicked by Governor Susana Martinez, the former Dona Ana County District Attorney, to succeed her in the post after Martinez was sworn-in as governor in 2011.

A review of campaign finance reports on file with the Secretary of State show a March 10, 2012 expenditure to Zia Printing of Santa Fe for “Campaign Materials.”  It is not clear if this is the printer for the illegal mailer.  Neither of Orlando’s campaign finance reports lists expenditures for website expenses.

Copies of the mailer, and the letter to the Attorney General are available on the ProgressNow New Mexico website at http://www.progressnownm.org/blog/2012/04/irony-alert-district-attorney-runs-afoul-of-election-laws.html

April 12, 2012 at 06:19 PM in Dona Ana County, Las Cruces, Legal Issues, ProgressNow New Mexico, Susana Martinez | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Hispanic Leaders Call for Wilderness Protection for Organ Mountains

Democracy for NewMexico Southern Bureau contributing writer Stephen Jones attended an event regarding the protection BLM's Tortugas Peak recreation area last week.

Wilderness_01
With the iconic Organ Mountains as a backdrop, Hispanic leaders came together in Las Cruces at the BLM's Tortugas Peak recreation area Wednesday to call on President Obama and Congress to permanently protect the Organs and surrounding desert treasures in southern New Mexico. The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act has been stalled in Congress since 2009.

Taylor_munozSpeaking on behalf of an Hispanic coalition that has come together as Nuestra Tierra: Our Land, Our Future,  John Muñoz of the Hispano Chamber of Congress called for permanent protected status for the fragile natural areas located primarily in Dona Ana County. "Today we call on President Obama and Congress to support the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act. This land connects all of us here in southern New Mexico; all of us of different backgrounds and different cultures. This land brings us together"  Muñoz said.

Mayor Nora Barraza of Mesilla also urged protection of the Organ Mountains and other desert landscapes for historic and cultural reasons, as well as their environmental value. She also noted the importance of the surrounding areas to the area economy, particularly that of the historic community she leads. "As a Barrazaperson who was born and raised in the wonderful town of Mesilla, and a lifelong New Mexican, I can attest to the importance of historical preservation" Barraza said. "If we lose these wonderful landscapes, we can never replace or recover these beautiful natural resources that we have. Is this not why we are are known as the land of enchantment?" she said.  "We know that growth is inevitable, but we need to take action now to protect our open lands and mountains. As a Hispanic I know the deep importance of these places. They have served as a part of our historic cultural and religious traditions; traditions that we hope to pass on to our children and grandchildren. Once they are gone they can never be replaced" Mayor Barraza said.

Former State Representative J. Paul Taylor, a long lime legislative leader who represented the Mesilla valley in the New Mexico House of Representatives, and a native of nearby Chamberino, also stressed the critical historic importance of the landscapes surrounding the valley, often on a personal basis, as well as its its fragile environmental value.  Taylor's family ancestors include Pedro Robledo, a member of the 1598 Oñate expedition for whom the Robledo Mountains near Radium Springs, one of the desert peaks included in the Wilderness Act, is named. "Naturally I have a great affection for those mountains" Taylor said, "I also have a great affection for those mountains you see behind me now [the Organs]. Juan de Oñate called these mountains ' Sierra del Olvido,'" Taylor said, "the forgotten mountains. Who could ever forget these beautiful mountains.

ChavezReading a poem she wrote for the occasion, Mesilla poet and playwright Dolores Chávez spoke of the critical importance of saving the rich historic landscape that marked the northbound passage of the El Camino Real, and that once was home, among others, to the great Chiricahua Apache, Geronimo, and to the face of the mountains where generations of Hispanic worshipers in the area have come to venerate Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Chávez, whose poem spoke to the rich heritage of the area she said "grounds" the regions's culture, also has an personal ancestral context to the land. She is the great-grand niece of the first Hispanic U. S. Senator, Dennis Chávez.

TrejoSpeaking for the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, Ray Trejo stressed the environmental, sporting, hunting and educational value of the land. "As a young Latino growing up in Deming, our Disneyland were these outdoors, and the vast richness of these natural areas" he said. "I'd also like to say, as an educator, not to take anything away from books, but all learning can't be gained in the classroom" Trejo said.

Speaking from an economic perspective, John Muñoz of the Hispano Chamber of Commerce said that communities that protect their natural areas are better for business. "Our Chamber has a long history of supporting protections for these lands" Muñoz said. "We feel, particularly in the current economic situation, that businesses in these areas adjacent to lands that are protected do better. Absolutely that has to do with a better quality of life." Muñoz noted that happier employees and a thriving commercial environment that comes from that quality of life both boosts economic activity and encourages new businesses to put down roots in places like Doña Ana County.

Wilderness_02

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks Wilderness Act, first introduced in 2009, is sponsored by New Mexico Senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall. The bill has been endorsed by both Democratic candidates seeking retiring Senator Bingaman's seat, State Auditor Hector Balderas and Congressman Martin Heinrich.

January 22, 2012 at 07:18 PM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Environment, Land Issues, Las Cruces | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Scott Krahling Seeking New Seat on Doña Ana County Commission

Krahling-scott-2012Doña Ana County Commissioner Scott Krahling has announced he is running in the election for District 5 on the county commission.

Krahling has served for the last three years representing District 4, but mandatory redistricting implemented earlier this year moved his residence into District 5.

“I supported the redistricting plan knowing that it would make any reelection bid more challenging, but it was the right map to ensure the commission districts aligned best to the county's changing needs and population shifts,” Krahling said. “I've decided to seek the District 5 seat because there's more that I can do for the county, and I invite the voters of District 5 to look at my record of leadership and hard work. I want to earn their votes and continue the work that needs to be done.”

Krahling lists among his accomplishments negotiating a substantial completion ordinance between the county and the Building Industry Association. The substantial completion ordinance prevents homes from being built on lots that do not have adequate infrastructure. The BIA publicly supported the proposal.

“There is so much divisiveness in politics today. However, locally, if we put the right people in the room together, we consistently accomplish good things,” Krahling said.

In addition, Krahling says that starting a new storm water control plan for the east mesa, getting the county started on a strategic plan, and starting mandatory annual ethics training for all commissioners and county staff, are all projects that he worked with county staff to implement and sustain.

“Many of these projects are not complete and I feel like we need commissioners who are ready to put in the hard work needed to get them done,” he said. “I've proven that I'm willing and able to do that hard work.”

In regards to representing a new district, Krahling said he believes the northern part of the county merits a seasoned commissioner who is ready to work with them to address challenges unique to their district.

“I know this will be a challenge, but I'm confident that I can prove to the residents in District 5 that I am the best person for the job,” he said. “The residents of the north need a commissioner who values their participation in projects like comprehensive planning, and I have the experience and work ethic to make sure that their input is heard and acted upon by the commission as a whole.”

January 10, 2012 at 11:17 AM in Candidates & Races, Dona Ana County, Las Cruces | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

12/7: Las Cruces Fundraiser for Eric Griego

Griego logoThe following info is from the Eric Griego for Congress Campaign. 
Download Las Cruces Invite here.

 

You’re Invited to Join

Senator Steve Fischmann, Senator Mary Jane Garcia, Senator Cynthia Nava, Representative Antonio Lujan, Councilor Nathan Small, Councilor Gill Sorg, Beth Bardwell, Ann Gutierrez, Pat Hynes, Charlotte Lipson, Peter & Jean Ossorio

for a Reception in support of

ERIC GRIEGO Candidate for Congress New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District

Wednesday, December 7th: 5:30pm – 7:30pm Rokoko Gallery 1785 Avenida de Mercado, Mesilla, NM 88046

December 7, 2011 at 01:29 AM in Candidates & Races, Eric Griego, Las Cruces, NM-01 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Evelyn Madrid Erhard Announces Run for Congress in 2nd District

Evelyn madrid erhardEvelyn Madrid Erhard, a Democrat, formally announces on Wednesday, November 29,2011 her campaign for Congress in New Mexico's second district.

Erhard invites members of the media and the public to a press conference on November 30, 2011 at
MVS Studios, which is located at 535 N Main St; Las Cruces, NM 88001. Participants will begin
gathering at 5:30pm and the event will start at 6:00pm.

During this event Erhard will deliver a speech and answer questions. The media will receive copies of
an additional press release. The campaign website will also be unveiled.

December 1, 2011 at 09:32 AM in Candidates & Races, Las Cruces, NM-02 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

NM Business Leaders Urge Secretary Salazar to Support Responsible Clean Energy Development on Public Lands

On the heels of a successful statewide renewable energy conference, the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce announced this week that 31 New Mexico business leaders have sent a letter to U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, encouraging him to support the development of clean-energy projects on New Mexico's public, private, and Tribal lands for the benefit of the state's economy and environment. The complete text of the letter can be found here (pdf).

"These New Mexico businesses believe responsible clean-energy development on our state's abundant public lands will help spur economic growth and job creation, and urge Secretary Salazar to push on this transition to a new clean-energy economy," said Allan Oliver, CEO of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce.

The New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce's September conference in Las Cruces attracted 200 business leaders, representatives of industry, government, higher education, and research laboratories, as well as policy-makers from across the state and region.

Interior Department Adviser Alan Gilbert was a keynote speaker, and carried a message from the Secretary: "Encouraging new sources of renewable energy for our country on our public lands is a high priority for President Obama and Secretary Salazar, both for the energy people will be able to use and for the jobs these new and important businesses will bring."

To encourage a continued conversation with Secretary Salazar, New Mexico business leaders this month sent a letter to him asking that he work with them to "create local jobs while protecting our national treasures," adding that "New Mexico has some of the best clean energy resources in the nation but we are behind other states in harnessing new energy development... We would welcome the opportunity to work with you to develop additional new projects in New Mexico that meet your goals to both build America's new energy future and protect our treasured landscapes."

"This letter to the Secretary underscores the commitment of New Mexico's business leaders to clean energy," Oliver added, "and reflects our ambition for New Mexico to be a leader in the responsible transition to job-creating renewable energy sources like solar, wind, and biofuels."

According to the Brookings Institution, New Mexico has over 17,000 clean economy jobs, with each job producing approximately $10,000 in exports on average, but ranks 36th in the nation in the overall size of its green economy industry.

October 27, 2011 at 07:16 AM in Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Las Cruces, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Democrat Evelyn Madrid Erhard Rallies Supporters in Quest for CD 2 Seat

Erhard_002 Erhard_004

Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

Evelyn Madrid Erhard ramped up her campaign to recapture the 2nd Congressional District on Sunday at the home of Delia Narvaez in Las Cruces. The fundraising house party was one of several planned over the next two months. Erhard, a Democrat who announced her candidacy for Congress a few weeks ago, promises a spirited grassroots campaign to recapture the Congressional seat now held by Steve Pearce (R-CD2). In her remarks to the gathering, Erhard promised a tough issue-oriented campaign that would focus on jobs, strengthening public education, affordable health care, and protecting Social Security and Medicare.

"I am a lifelong New Mexican and have lived in this community for thirty six years. I'm sorry to say that for thirty of those years we have been represented by only two people, Steve Pearce and Joe Skeen, and neither of them has done anything for the people of southern New Mexico," Erhard said. "You know, I also have to say this, because it's true, and because it has a lot to do with why I decided to run for Congress. The Republicans have gotten all these people to be against other people; they pit people against other people, and that is just wrong. You know those Republicans, like us, who are '99%-ers' too, they really need the same things that we need. They really do. So it's sad, really sad, that they fall into the trap of being pitted against other people who are just like themselves," Erhard said.

Erhard_001 Erhard_007

"I'm running for Congress because for too long we have been ignored," she said, referring to her opponent, Congressman Pearce. "I've heard people say, 'well, he's tough.' You know he's not tough. He's really just mean," she said, "and there gets to be a point in time, like in a children's story, where the kids get fed up and say 'Boo!' back. So I just want you to know, I want to tell you now, I'm not afraid of him. We've seen that play before. So when he comes around with his attacks, like he always does, I plan to say back to him, you know you've been around a long time and you've never done anything for anyone in our district. I plan to say, you backed the people who took us to the brink, then stood back while the whole economy went down the tubes. You voted for two unfunded wars, you backed the Ryan budget that would strip our seniors of their Medicare. You are responsible for the situation that we're in," Erhard said.

Erhard_003

"I've been to the neighborhoods and to the communities in this district and I've heard the voices of people who live and work here," she said. "People are hurting here. I want you know that I've heard what people have to say, the challenges that they're facing, and I want to say here, right now, I'm the one who is going to go back to Washington and speak for them, speak for the people of this district. I plan to be a voice for all of New Mexico, and I hope, with your support, that I will be the person who speaks out in Congress for the things that we need. First and foremost, we need good jobs!"

Erhard also promised to work hard to protect and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, and to support legislation that protects consumers against the abuses of the insurance industry. She stressed the importance of a good public education system as the foundation for growing economy for the region.

"Jobs are the number one issue," she said, "and we need to protect Social Security and Medicare. Pearce and the Republicans have signed on to the Ryan budget bill, so it's real important we elect someone with a priority to stand up for health care and to work for our seniors," Erhard said. "After that we need to be looking to protect human and civil rights. Those seem to always be under attack from the Republicans." Erhard said she supports collective bargaining rights "absolutely," and also will work to protect the landmark Voting Rights Act, which is again under attack from the right. She also supports the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would protect the LGBT community nationally against employment discrimination. "It's important to speak out for human rights and civil rights more than ever, because the Tea Party and the Koch brothers have made such an effort to use people's fears to encourage hate among people, and cause great division to cover up their own political and economic failures," she said.

Erhard took aim at her opponent's cozy relationship with the oil and gas industry. "Oil and gas are important to the economy of this District," she said, "but we need to support the job-creating new energy industries in solar and wind, and in biofuels that we in this area should be the economic leaders in," she said. "Southern New Mexico is blessed with so much sun, it needs to become the engine of a strong, renewable economy in New Mexico." Erhard also hopes to enlist New Mexico State University, which she termed "a world-class institution in the field," in helping to train workers, and to develop and add research skills to the emerging renewable economy of the area.

Erhard also promised to support wilderness protection for the iconic Organ Mountains near Las Cruces. "We are blessed with such incredible natural beauty here in New Mexico," she said, "we need to do everything we can to be good stewards of our wild lands."

Evelyn Madrid Erhard is a lifelong New Mexican who grew up in Española and is a resident of Mesilla, New Mexico. She earned a Master's Degree in Communications Studies. She has worked as a technical writer, and teacher at Doña Ana County Community College and at New Mexico State University. She also owned and operated a small storefront shop for six years.

Photos by Stephen Jones. Click images for larger versions. To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

October 17, 2011 at 06:15 AM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Events, Las Cruces, NM-02 Congressional Race 2012 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10/19: Fundraiser Honoring Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima

From Mary Gail Gwaltney:

You are invited to a Fundraiser
Honoring Mayor Ken Miyagishima
Wednesday, October 19th, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
At the home of
Mary Gail Gwaltney
Democratic National Committeewoman
And
Senator Lamar Gwaltney
1910 North Alameda Avenue, Las Cruces
Co-Hosted by
Joni Marie Gutierrez, NM State Representative
Click for Flyer
Minimum Donation: $50 per person at the door

October 11, 2011 at 05:45 AM in Events, Las Cruces, Las Cruces City Elections | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Las Cruces Mayoral Candidates Spar at Tech Debate

Miyagishima_Huerta
Ken Miyagishima, Michael Huerta

Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

All four Las Cruces mayoral candidates faced off at a public forum sponsored by the High Tech Consortium of Southern New Mexico (HTC) on Wednesday morning at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Museum auditorium. The candidates responded to questions related to bringing high tech jobs into New Mexico's second largest city. Wednesday's event featured Mayor Ken Miyagishima and his three challengers, Las Cruces City Councillor Dolores Connor, community activist Michael Ray Huerta, and newspaper reseller Michael Fleming. It was the first event in which all four of the candidates participated on the same stage.

Panel

The four candidates stressed the proximity of New Mexico State University, White Sands Missile Base and the Spaceport USA as potential engines of new business growth in the tech sector for Las Cruces. "Every year we see more and more businesses that are looking at Las Cruces" as a potential place to locate, Mayor Miyagishima said, "Once the Spaceport is up and running, we are looking at a $500 million dollar economic boom per year," he said.

"There's so much research wealth here in our County," Dolores Connor said. "You're going to hear a lot about the Spaceport and White Sands Missile Range. I have been a supporter of the Spaceport since day one and continue to be," she said. Connor also pointed to White Sands, NASA and the area testing facilities as engines of business growth. "People from all over the world travel here to work with those facilities. It is our opportunity to engage those businesses and work with them to make them a part of our community," she said. Connor also talked about the importance of working with secondary schools in building bridge programs in science education.

Conner Fleming1
Dolores Connor, Michael Fleming

Michael Ray Huerta said the city needed to do more to address quality of life issues to get and keep good paying technical jobs. He pointed to Austin, Texas as the model he would try to emulate in that regard. "The Brookings Institute came out with a study that said diversity of human capital is the key indicator of whether or not cities can maintain a workforce," Huerta said. "What does that mean for Las Cruces?" he asked. "We've done a lot in the last few years to address the quality of life for retirees and seniors," he said, "but what we need to do to retain people in high tech business, is to address their quality of life." Huerta singled out development of the arts and entertainment, music and outdoor recreation as areas that needed to be addressed.

Michael Fleming concurred that the City needed to partner with NMSU and the aerospace facilities. "We need to strengthen education, especially at the lower grades, so that they have the three 'R's' down and can successfully complete their college educations," Fleming added.

Addressing the expansion of solar and broadband in Las Cruces, each of the candidates agreed more needed to be done in the City. However, Miyagishima pointed out that once solar facilities are completed they do not leave behind large workforces. Connor agreed, adding that the private sector needed to do more, particularly in the area of broadband. "We simply don't have the public dollars to address the deficiency," she said. Huerta said more could be done to educate the public on the use of internet technologies to generate greater demand from the private sector in building out broadband in Las Cruces.  

Miyagishima Huerta
Ken Miyagishima, Michael Huerta

Connor called for a lower tax rate and reform of the State Goods and Services Tax to help drive economic development. She said she strongly supported Governor Susana Martinez's efforts to reform the tax. Mayor Miyagishima pointed out that, under his administration, he had built "a healthy business environment," and noted that the City had "twice the financial reserves" that are required by the state, putting the city of firm economic ground. He noted that, through the direction of the current administration, Las Cruces has not overbuilt speculative housing, and has avoided many of the economic problems of its competitors.

While Miyagishima pointed to good planning as an engine of future job growth, Connor said that it was the private sector that needed to create the jobs. "Once we've built the streets and sewers, we've done our job," she said. In one late exchange between the candidates, Huerta called on the Mayor and City Council to slash their own salaries. Huerta said that -- in real terms -- there was a 15% unemployment rate in the city. "It's time the Mayor and City Council make some sacrifices, too," he said.

As each of the candidates pointed out, Las Cruces has a weak-mayor form of government. While the Mayor holds a key vote on the seven-member City Council, that individual has no administrative duties, but does set the agenda for the Council. Las Cruces has a full-time City Manager who reports to the full City Council. 

The Las Cruces municipal election will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2011. In addition to the Mayoral race, three City Council seats and the Municipal Judge contest will be decided in the 2011 municipal election.

HTC, which sponsored the forum, is headquartered in Las Cruces. It is a non-profit membership organization made up of tech-oriented individuals, small business owners, corporate leaders and educators that has come together to promote a positive business atmosphere conducive to growing the high-tech sector in southern New Mexico.

Photos by Stephen Jones. Click images for larger versions. To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

September 28, 2011 at 07:58 PM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Events, Las Cruces, Las Cruces City Elections | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Doña Ana County Democrats Come Out Big for Labor and to Cheer on Hector Balderas and Martin Heinrich


Click for photo album

Contributing writer Stephen Jones checks in with more on-the-ground coverage from Southern New Mexico.

Nearly four hundred southern New Mexico Democrats and area Union activists joined together on Labor Day morning to celebrate the heritage of organized labor and to rally support for Doña Ana County Democratic candidates and officeholders. The event was keynoted by U.S. Senate candidates State Auditor Hector Balderas and Martin Heinrich. It was the first public event in New Mexico that has featured both candidates for the 2012 Democratic U.S Senate nomination together in the same venue.

Message From DPDAC Chair Christy French
"Today we come together to celebrate the both the rights and accomplishments of the American labor movement," said Doña Ana County Democratic Party Chair Christy French. "We do this at a time when labor and the right to collective bargaining is under attack as never before. We caution those who would deny the rights of labor against the dangerous path they have chosen. As John L. Lewis, a mineworker the founder of the CIO said, 'Workers have kept faith in American institutions. Most of the conflicts, which have occurred have been when labor's right to live has been challenged and denied.' We couldn't agree more," she said.

"As Democrats we choose a different path. We promise to keep faith with working people, because we understand that labor represents the great backbone of the nation and the path to prosperity for all of us. Make no mistake about this. To the working people of our county, our state, and our nation, we want you to know that we stand with you. We will always stand with you," Christy French said.

Both Hector Balderas and Martin Heinrich echoed Doña Ana County Chair French, outlining the strong labor backgrounds of their families and promising to keep faith with America's working people and to champion the rights of labor in the United States Senate. 

Remarks by Hector Balderas
In his speech Hector Balderas outlined the kitchen table family values passed down from his grandfather, a decorated World War vet and local plumber from Wagon Mound, a small rural community in northern New Mexico. Balderas promised to take the fight to and his "home grown" values into the general election and answer the call to "fight those who would go so far as to question whether a Ben Ray Lujan is a 'real American?'" "I'm willing to take that fight to them," Balderas said.

"Fiscal responsibility is a progressive value. Why wouldn't we stand by those values? I'll be happy to debate Heather Wilson on those values," Balderas continued. "The ugly truth is that corporate America has been driving the bus in Washington for quite a while. We've been giving away the farm now for quite some time now. I'm advocating restoring some kind of fairness and equity in our economy. If you are a school teacher you should be taxed the same as anyone else. Just because somebody wants to call you a "jobs creator" shouldn't mean you pay less taxes than a school teacher. Fairness is very simple really," Balderas said.

"I'm also ready to debate Heather Wilson on why she squandered the largest surplus in recent  U.S. history and why we can't now be relying on that surplus in these difficult times to invest in schools and school children, teacher pay, roads and infrastructure," Balderas stated. "She has actually been unaccountable to you as taxpayers and citizens. She's worked and advocated for only one group of Americans while turning her back on the vast majority of citizens. She should be called out for that."

Balderas continued, "I think Washington D.C. needs to hear from people who actually know how a water system makes all the difference in places like Wagon Mound or Chamberino. Those things matter. When we're talking about $2.1 trillion dollars to provide water systems and infrastructure to those kinds of communities, we really ought to have leaders who understand the importance of how those funds are spent, and where those resources need to go to make an impact. Washington D.C. is a little out of touch. They've forgotten how those issues actually effect the everyday lives of people in places like New Mexico."

"If you actually come from a place where people hold you accountable, where people's lives and livelihood are at stake, like Wagon Mound, the place my grandfather raised his family, then you aren't going to engage in fiscal recklessness like Heather Wilson, because you know that your neighbors and the local school teacher are going to call you out. These Washington programs make a real difference. That's the kind of politics I will take to Washington, D.C.," Balderas concluded.

Remarks by Martin Heinrich
In his address, Martin Heinrich also talked about the values his family passed on to him. "I want to talk about the importance of this holiday," he said. "Labor Day is not just another three-day holiday. I want to talk about the importance of Labor to this country and our families," Heinrich said.

"My dad was in a union, he was IBEW," Heinrich continued. "He was a lineman and a local electrician. My mother was a seamstress for many years, back when Levi's were still made in America, and she finished her work in an auto factory, one of the few plants that was a non-organized auto factory in the United States. It was in a right-to-work-for-less state. It was in a plant that openly hostile to organized labor, and I saw just what that meant to an individual family. My dad worked hard, but he was treated with respect. He had a good contract. He had access to organized collective bargaining. My mom didn't have that where she worked. So when demand hit hard and they were looking for a cheaper place to produce some of these parts, her factory -- instead of adding more workers -- just added more time."

"So when they went to seven days a week, one day off every three weeks, it really took a toll," Heinrich explained. "I remember when the carpal tunnel hit and she had to wear braces to work every day. The only good thing I can say about it, is I learned to cook. I saw what a toll a workplace took on my mother that, frankly, did not respect her. That respect is what organized labor has brought to working people in this country. So, for me, Labor Day will never be just another three-day weekend," Heinrich stated.

For his part, Heinrich said he was tough enough to stand up to Heather Wilson and the Republicans. "We went through a pretty tough cycle last year," he said. "They said I came in on a wave and I was going to go out on the last wave. We proved them wrong last year. I've seen a lot of good Democrats try to win and yet lose that seat," he said, "but we were able to keep it -- in the toughest election cycle year for Democrats in decades."

"On Tuesday night, after we had won," Heinrich continued, "and so many other Democrats had lost, the news media asked me what was the difference. I told them I had to subscribe to the idea that we had stuck to our convictions. I think I won and others lost because too many of my colleagues had run from the things that they had believed in," Heinrich continued.  "They took tough votes, like on health care, but when they got rattled by the Tea Party they began to run for the hills, change their positions and apologize for votes. We never did that."

"I never apologized for holding Wall Street accountable at a time they were putting our mortgages and our retirements at risk, and I never apologized for taking on the health insurance lobby in this country," Heinrich stated. "That is the kind of race that we're going to run for the United States Senate."

"If you want to know what kind of Senator I will be, look at my votes in the last two sessions of Congress," said Heinrich. "Whether I voted for the community. Whether I sided with the corporate lobbyists, or whether I sided with New Mexicans. I'm proud of every one of my votes, and if you knew my family and how we grew up, you could have predicted every one of those votes," Heinrich concluded.

Other Prominent Dems Present
Other prominent Democrats at the event included Attorney General Gary King; State Senators Mary Jane Garcia, Steve Fischmann and Mary Kay Papen; State Representatives Joseph Cervantes, Mary Helen Garcia, Joni Gutierrez and Eleanor Chavez. Rep. Chavez made the journey south from Albuquerque for the Doña Ana County event. 

Others included Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins; County Treasurer David Gutierrez; County Commissioners Billy Garrett and Karen Perez; Probate Judge Alice M. Salcido; and former State Representative J. Paul Taylor. Candidates Evelyn Madrid Erhard, who is running for Congress in the 2nd Congressional District, and Mark DiAntonio, who is running for Doña Ana County District Attorney, were also on hand to seek support.

Anthony Mayor Ramon S. Gonzales and Las Cruces Mayor Ken Miyagishima, along with mayoral challengers Michael Ray Huerta and Dolores Conner of Las Cruces, and Councillors Miguel Silva, Olga Pedroza, Nathan Small and Sharon Thomas, were also in attendance.

Honored at the event was Randy Moncrief of the American Federation of Teachers.

Photos by Stephen Jones. To see more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

September 6, 2011 at 01:42 PM in 2012 NM Senate Race, By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Democratic Party, Hector Balderas, Holidays, Las Cruces, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (2)