By Richard Barish, Rio Grande Chapter Political chair
In these difficult times, elections may understandably not be the first thing on everybody’s mind. However, as we have seen from Trump’s failures to effectively mobilize to fight COVID-19, good leadership matters.
In 2018, Rio Grande Chapter members helped elect a new wave of progressive, pro-environment legislators to the State House. In the June primary, we have the opportunity to push the New Mexico Senate in the same direction.
The state Senate has been the graveyard for some of the best pro-environment and progressive legislation, in part because of a bloc of Democratic committee chairs who often block critical legislation like funding for early-childhood education, a living wage and community solar. These senators include Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, Finance Chair John Arthur Smith (District 35), Corporations Committee Chair Clemente Sanchez (District 30); George Muñoz (District 4), and Gabriel Ramos (District 28).
Fortunately, some great Democratic candidates have stepped up to challenge these incumbents. Endorsements are listed only for candidates in contested primary races in June. Candidates who do not have a primary opponent are not listed. We’ll have our full slate of endorsements in the fall Sierran.
Please support these candidates. The safest way to vote is by mail, but you must request a ballot. A request form will be mailed to you by the Secretary of State, but you can also request a mail ballot (also called an absentee ballot, but available to all New Mexico primary voters) at nmvote.org.
Endorsements are listed only for candidates in contested primary races in June. Candidates who do not have a primary opponent are not listed. We’ll have our full slate of endorsements in the fall Sierran.
Senate District 4: Noreen Kelly
Kelly is a Navajo elder who lives in rural McKinley County and has a long history of community involvement. She works with Strong Families on reproductive justice and domestic violence; she is a board member of two Native schools; has been active for 20 years in Diné Elders for Peace and other community organizations. She has a strong environmental ethic. Her opponent, Sen. George Muñoz, has a poor 47% environmental voting record and has opposed efforts to fund early childhood education.
District 5: Leo Jaramillo
Jaramillo stood with neighbors to protect the Ortega and Garcia acequias in the San Pedro area of Española, which were being threatened by a national fast-food chain. The chain wanted to move into a residential area but didn’t have a plan on protecting the acequias. They stopped the project. As a county commissioner, he supported a resolution to ensure that state agencies have the authority to hold oil and gas companies accountable for violations of the Oil and Gas Act.
District 8: Pete Campos
Campos has been a solid environmental vote in the state Senate, and he is committed to making bold decisions to help our state thrive and eliminate the global emissions that adversely affect New Mexicans’ overall health and that of future generations. Campos has served his district, which covers Colfax, Guadalupe, Harding, Mora, Quay, San Miguel and Taos counties, since 1991.
District 9: Brenda McKenna
McKenna, of Nambé Pueblo, was taught from an early age that protection of our planet is part and parcel of her life. She is a field representative for U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, who endorses her candidacy for this open seat. She is a longtime volunteer for Wildlife Conservation Advocacy Southwest, Prairie Dog Pals and Hawks Aloft, as well as our Rio Grande Chapter. Her advocacy helped outlaw coyote-killing contests in New Mexico.
District 10: Katy Duhigg
Duhigg is a consumer-protection attorney and former Albuquerque city clerk. As clerk, Duhigg worked to ensure fair and ethical elections, including enacting public financing reforms, setting clear campaign ethics guidelines, and increasing disclosure requirements for elected officials. She is also a former vice president of Common Cause New Mexico.
District 17: Mimi Stewart
Few elected officials have championed our climate, wildlife, drinking water and clean air more consistently than Sen. Stewart. She sponsored renewal of job-creating residential and business solar tax credits for years — until they passed both chambers for the third time and were signed into law by Gov. Lujan Grisham this year. Another of her longtime efforts was rewarded when her Wildlife Trafficking Act passed this year.
District 20: Rebecca Stair
Stair was one of the most knowledgeable and energetic candidates we interviewed. She has a record of nourishing our precious lands and waters, from supporting green infrastructure to introducing carbon offsets into the New Mexico film industry. She is enthusiastic about innovating healthy, harmonious and thriving ecologies and economies in New Mexico.
District 28: Siah Correa Hemphill
Correa Hemphill is a progressive champion and working mom. Her experience as a special education teacher will bring a voice deeply connected with vulnerable populations to the Senate. She will be a strong voice for environmental values in Southwest N.M., continuing the leadership that Howie Morales began in this district. She is running against Sen. Gabriel Ramos, who supported the expensive and dangerous plan to divert the Gila River.
District 30: Pam Cordova
Cordova is a retired educator and former president of the New Mexico Federation of Democratic Women. She is a longtime Rio Grande Chapter member. Along with action on climate and education, Pam supports the creation of a public health insurance option for New Mexicans. Cordova is running against Sen. Clemente Sanchez, who has opposed funding early-childhood education and often blocks critical environmental legislation from being heard in the Corporations Committee.
District 35: Neomi Martinez-Parra
Martinez-Parra is a strong supporter of access to our public lands and preservation of our parks, monuments, and wild places for future generations. She is an educator who formerly served as vice chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party and as a member of the Democratic Party’s Platform and Resolutions Committee. Martinez-Parra is opposing Sen. John Arthur Smith, who has blocked funding for early-childhood education from the $15 billion Permanent Fund.
The New Mexico Senate District map is from the Secretary of State's website. For more details and additional districts in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, please visit the website.