New Mexico’s Land Commissioner controls 9 million acres of your state trust land, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars in royalties that fund New Mexico public schools, universities and hospitals. The land commissioner is one of the most powerful elected positions in New Mexico — with the least independent oversight.
After researching records, reviewing questionnaires and interviewing candidates, The Sierra Club enthusiastically endorses state Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard for New Mexico Land Commissioner.
Stephanie’s record of honest, ethical public service stands in stark contrast to her opponent’s scandal-plagued previous tenure as Land Commissioner.
Garcia Richard has a thorough plan she wants to carry out as our Land Commissioner. It involves better protection of our aquifers, smarter efficient grazing practices and diversifying New Mexico’s revenues by promoting wind and solar installations on public lands.
Garcia Richard’s opponent, Patrick Lyons, used his controversial time in the Land Office to trade away prime hunting and recreation land in White Peak to a fellow private rancher, taking the land off-limits for hunting or hiking. The state Supreme Court ruled the swap illegal. A 2010 audit by the state found Lyons’ mismanagement cost New Mexicans millions of dollars. “In many cases, we found that internal controls which should
exist to protect trust beneficiaries were improper, ineffective or completely nonexistent,” the audit said. “In other cases, we found that proper internal controls implemented by the SLO to protect the trust were simply overridden by the Commissioner.”
In his most recent elected post, as a Public Regulation Commission member, Lyons consistently opposed renewable-energy policies despite renewables’ lower cost than coal and gas. An oil-and-gas PAC has pumped $2 million into this race for Lyons, and 60% of his campaign cash comes from oil and gas corporations.
Garcia Richard, on the other hand, has a 90% lifetime voting record from Conservation Voters New Mexico. She has pledged to ensure that Land Office decisions work for all stakeholders. In her three terms as state representative, she has demonstrated her commitment to the best use of our resources, sponsoring legislation on solar-energy storage and support for businesses committed to efficiency and conservation. She brings a forward-looking, data-based approach on climate disruption and its impact on our state in the state Land Office.
Garcia Richard is a teacher and comes from a family of educators, and she is committed the mission of the state’s trust land, which generates hundreds of millions of dollars for our public schools and universities. She understands the need for public lands to produce the revenue for our education system, and she knows we need to fund early childhood education as well as K-12.
It would be a mistake to put Patrick Lyons back in control to mismanage our kids’ education funds again. Stephanie Garcia Richard is the clear, experienced and ethical choice for land commissioner.
Paid for by Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club PAC.