By Susan Martin
Chapter Political chair
You — one person — can make a difference in a political race. New Mexico needs you — to volunteer to support the election of environmental champions endorsed by Sierra Club.
Two races illustrate what can be done: one local race for county commissioner and a contentious race for New Mexico state representative in District 41.
In the county race, a Sierra Club volunteer got a list of Sierra Club members in the county commission district. She left messages on phones which said,” Hi, I’m a Sierra Club volunteer and want you to know about a local race that will shape how our region looks. We endorsed Rudy Garcia for commissioner and urge you to vote for him.”
Rudy won 58% of the vote in a three-way race, and the volunteer never had to leave her home.
The second case involved Susan Herrera, a first-time candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club to represent state House District 41, in the Española area of Northern New Mexico. She ran against incumbent Debbie Rodella, who had only a 68% Conservation Voters New Mexico environmental voting record.
Rodella had represented the district for 25 years and had only one serious challenger during that quarter-century. Many individual Sierra Club members in Santa Fe made the weekend drive to Española to visit potential voters in their homes to tell them about Susan. In addition, the Albuquerque office of the Sierra Club has volunteer days every Wednesday from 1 to 4 p.m. During just one of those afternoons, volunteers called through a list of Sierra Club members and supporters in District 41. Susan won the district by a 56%-44% margin and will be bringing integrity and progressive values to the Roundhouse next January.
Political campaigns are an art, but successful ones make use of person-to-person contact to encourage supporters to actually cast their vote and to provide information to persuade undecided voters.
“I think the Sierra Club was instrumental in my victory for the 41st District,” Herrera said. ‘Four to five members of the Sierra Club came each weekend for the last five weekends and helped walk precincts. We added another five or so from our campaign and together we had about 10 volunteers walking precincts. The Sierra Club not only helped walk precincts, they made 500 calls to Sierra Club members in District 41 and sent each of them an email. The Sierra Club and its members will be remembered long after the primary vote count on June 5, 2018!”
Here’s a rundown of how Sierra Club Rio Grande Chapter-endorsed candidates did in the June 5 New Mexico primary (we endorsed only in contested races, so if your favorite candidate isn’t there, he or she might be in the general):
Governor: U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan-Grisham won a three-way race and faces U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce in the general election.
Land Commission: Garrett VeneKlasen lost to Stephanie Garcia-Richard, who faces Public Regulation Commissioner Patrick Lyons in the general election.
Auditor: Bill McCamley lost to Brian Colon, who faces current appointed auditor Wayne Johnson in the general.
District 13: Patricia Roybal Caballero won and is unopposed in November.
District 5: Doreen W. Johnson won and is unopposed in November.
District 31: Mark Boslough lost the Republican primary to state Rep. William Rehm.
District 41: Susan Herrera won and is unopposed in November.
District 43: Pete Sheehey lost to Chris Chandler, who faces Lisa Shin in the general election.
District 52: Doreen Gallegos won and faces David Cheek in the general election.
Federal contested races
U.S. Congressional District 1: Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez lost to Deb Haaland.
District 2: Xochitl Torres Small won and faces Yvette Herrell in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce.
Margaret Cassidy-Baca came in second in a tight four-way race for Sandoval County Commission. Winner Katherine Bruch faces incumbent James Holden-Rhodes in November.
Rudy Martinez won and is unopposed in November.
Wherever you live in New Mexico, you can make a difference by committing an hour a week to elect a candidate who is an environmental champion. Don’t like to make phone calls? Walk a neighborhood on behalf of a candidate. Have a stressful life and want to avoid all human contact? Write a letter to the editor of your local paper on behalf of that candidate and spread it around to your friends. Together we must make the vital human connections that elect leaders dedicated to environmental protection, equity and inclusion.