Putting District 50 First

independent (in*de*pend*ent)

Adjective…

1. free from outside control; not depending on another’s authority; not controlled by others in matters of opinion; an independent thinker

2. not subject to another’s authority or jurisdiction; autonomous; an independent businessman

3. not influenced by the thought or action of others; an independent researcher

Noun…

Politics; a person who votes for candidates, measures or legislation, in accordance with his or her own judgement and without regard to the endorsement of or the positions taken by any party.

My independence is an asset that I will use every day to try to improve the lives of my constituents. Because I am not beholden to any party, I can’t be swayed by the insiders who run those operations.  I will listen hard to all sides and become a champion for the best ideas that serve our diverse and proud communities.

 

Improving Our Economy and Our Education System

    • Looking at the challenges facing our economy while ignoring the problems in our education system is a mistake for which we pay everyday.  We need to admit that the state of our economy and the state of our education mirror each other.  We need to embrace the challenge of providing our youth with the knowledge, skills and understanding needed to thrive in a world where so many barely make it.  This was true 20 years ago and it’s even more true today.  Our children are our future; our prosperity and theirs depend on the skills they acquire along with the passion to put those talents to good use.    

      • As a society, we have come to believe that throwing money at a problem will solve it. We know that’s not true.  We also know that early-childhood education is important and it’s time to become more resourceful with our pre-K programs.    

    • Our workforce is innovative, creative and hard working.  Many people in District 50 work for themselves.  I am concerned about the burden of unnecessary regulation on small businesses.  We need to make it easier for small businesses to prosper.  

    • One of our overlooked assets is our creativity.  We need to find ways to encourage innovation.  The huge diversity within District 50 makes it a microcosm of our state.  It’s time to toss out one-size-fits all solutions.  When it comes to public policies, automatic responses don’t work any better than they do in our personal lives.  

    • It’s time to empower local communities to address their own issues.  There are ways to limit bureaucracy that encourage innovation without sacrificing accountability.

    • For years, people have realized that our tax system needs to be overhauled.  Let’s get it done.  Two areas are of particular interest to me:

        ➤  Gross receipts taxes need to be revamped in several ways.  Of special interest to me is the recognition that our artists, our farmers and our ranchers — the bulk of District 50 entrepreneurs — are in particular need of dramatically lowered taxes on revenue generated by their businesses.  Doing so will permit our small-scale sole proprietor operations to grow and prosper.  We should nurture these businesses until they can achieve the scale to pay full tax rates.

        ➤  Property taxes... When property taxes rise at a greater rate than incomes, a real burden is created for many, especially those on fixed incomes.  Not infrequently people are forced to sell their homes.  I am in favor of creating a local tax option that would allow local governments to freeze property taxes for owner-occupied residences until they are sold. Any resulting lost revenue could be recouped by having the ability to raise taxes on properties owned by out-of-state speculators and second home owners.

    • By encouraging local governments to provide tax structures that meet the needs of their constituents, we empower them to tailor their services to their communities and give them an alternative to one-size-fits-all solutions.

    • Having served on Santa Fe’s Board of Education, I’m more than a little familiar with childhood poverty and the negative impact it makes on our young.  To meet these challenges we should encourage novel solutions that reflect the particular needs of our rich, but disparate jurisdictions.   

      • In order to prosper, District 50 does not need to become something that it is not.  It’s not Albuquerque, or Las Cruces or Santa Fe. New Mexico’s rural economic development policies should reward local leadership. District 50 can thrive by building on its strengths, especially the work ethic and creativity of its residents. 

Healthcare, Seniors and Wellbeing

    • We know our healthcare system is wildly too expensive and its quality is mediocre at best.  This is getting to be very old news.  I’m ready to help stop the wasted energy of just yelling about it and getting down to the hard work of fixing it. 

     • We must recognize that we all end up paying for each other’s care, including those who are uninsured.  A fundamental place to start fixing our broken healthcare system is by peeling off the special interest layers of profit smothering it.

    • As in all the developed countries, we know that universal healthcare is a primary right. We just don’t know is how to deliver on that premise because special interests have trained us to be grateful for the lousy system we now have. We deserve a healthcare system that is much more nimble. It’s time to figure this out. 

    • Will it be “Single Payer?” Will it be a revamped HMO system? Will it be social-based or can the private, for-profit system we now have be made more responsive and affordable? How are we going to protect programs that fund health care for seniors? These are the thorny questions that an independent voice can bring us together to answer.

    • It’s been over 250 years since wise, old Benjamin Franklin told us that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Imagine how much healthier all of us would be if our public health policies actively encouraged healthy lifestyles and regular monitoring. 

Our youngest grandson
Our youngest grandson

   

    • We have a moral obligation to look after our seniors.  There are local facilities that are doing a great job but it’s vital that we identify where there are service gaps.  As with everything else, our limited resources compel us to seek new, more efficient ways to meet needs.  Senior services may not need to be provided through governments alone.  I’m not a big fan of relying on the public sector.  It can be an environment that is inefficient and costly.  But we license private daycare centers to take care of our kids.  In communities experiencing breaches in senior services it may be just as efficient to license similar private enterprises to fill those holes.

 

Water and the Environment    

    • Water is our most precious resource.  We need to do more to rethink the way we protect and conserve it.  We need to revisit the compacts we’ve made with other states that disadvantage

the for sure love of my life
the for sure love of my life

New Mexicans. 

    • District 50 has abundant sun and wind.  It’s in the center of our state.  We need to exploit these renewable resources as we pivot away from legacy energy sources.

    • New Mexico’s lack of a real manufacturing base is a double-edged sword. For the most part, our state enjoys enviable air quality and unmatched blue skies.  By offering tax breaks to our own home-grown, non-polluting  entrepreneurial businesses we can protect our natural environment and grow our economy at the same time.

 

Improving State Government

It’s no secret that New Mexico’s economy has been lagging for decades.  That stagnation is painfully reflected in bottom-of-the-barrel state rankings dependent on a healthy business environment.  However, there is no reason that New Mexico can’t lead the nation in the integrity of its state government, the fairness of its elections and in transparency.  Improving the quality of our governance will save money and make us a more attractive destination for businesses and retirees.

Here are some things we can begin right now:

    • Embrace a fully transparent and independent ethics commission with jurisdiction over all elected officials.

    • Stop the sale of our elections by forbidding the use of dark money from millionaires.  Let’s not allow the 1% to fund special interest groups that don’t promote the common good.    

     • End the incumbent protection racket that results from letting politicians pick their voters.  We need an independent, nonpartisan redistricting process.  Now!

    • Level the playing field for all those seeking to hold office.  End major party preferences.  Do whatever we can to encourage more candidacies.  It’s embarrassing that we have the least competitive state elections in the country.

    •  Open our primaries to all voters.  It’s improper to deny access to these elections (which in some cases are the most consequential) to people who choose not to join a major party.

    •  Install Ranked Choice Voting for all statewide and legislative seats.

 

Some Thoughts on Getting Along

All of us are close to people with whom we don’t see eye to eye.  In my circle of friends and in my family, that’s pretty much the lay of the land.  It’s too bad our politics are so divisive and try to cubbyhole candidates into narrow points of view.  The pledge-signing, my-way-or-the-highway approach to leadership creates a winner-take-all environment that leaves anyone who has doesn’t fully agree with a bad taste in their mouth.  I don’t see people with whom I disagree as disloyal and I think it is bullying to try to force folks to adopt my positions.  

Faith & her daddy on the lake
Faith & her dad on the lake

Justice Ginsberg was right when she said, “You can disagree without being disagreeable.”  Her deep friendship with Justice Scalia exemplified that statement. So did Senators Orrin Hatch and Ted Kennedy’s multi-decade bond.  Ditto Ronald Reagan’s friendship with Speaker of the House, Tip O’Neill.  Why has that kind of affection among politicians who have starkly different values all but disappeared today?

When I’m weighing someone’s ability to be counted on to lend a hand, I look for their integrity and their reliability.  I don’t care about their politics. I don’t expect voters to ignore my positions, but I urge them to look at the person behind them.  The easiest thing in the world is to sign-off on a party platform.  I’ve never liked doing things the easy way.

 

Positions on Major Issues

Taxes

I am a true fiscal conservative who worries that governments are often imprudent with their spending.  I am sickened by the debt levels of our

Never Get Tired of These Skies
Never Get Tired of These Skies

Federal government.  I also value good government and believe in properly supporting the provision of government services.  I will not sign any pledges with respect to taxes and will consider fiscal issues on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind the limited resources of our state and the limited capacities of its taxpayers.

Healthcare

I’m pleased that there is increasing recognition that we all share the cost of each other’s care at a fundamental level and that we all benefit when we are as healthy as possible.  I have the extraordinary good fortune to have recovered from a grave medical condition.  I don’t think people’s health status should affect their access to care.

Environment

I believe global warming is real and that it is mostly caused by human activity.  I am heartened by the amazing progress we are making in ensuring that our air and our water are less and less polluted.  Taking care of our planet and enhancing the economic prospects of our communities, our states and our nation are fully compatible.

Guns

I own and use both long and short guns.  I am deeply saddened by the unbelievable suffering mass shootings inflict on families and communities.  I am not going to sponsor any legislation with respect to firearms.  Nor am I going to sign any pledges about them.  If I am asked to vote on legislation on guns, I will listen to the positions of both opponents and supporters and act in what I believe to be the best interests of my constituents.

Religion

I have a spiritual life that helps me in many ways.  I am not a member of any religious faith or denomination.  I don’t take peoples’ religious beliefs (or lack of them) into account when I interact with them.  I have a deep conviction about the value of ensuring that our governments do not intrude into matters of faith. 

Abortion

I understand why some people believe that life begins at conception while others believe it begins at birth.  I don’t think governments should be involved with these deeply personal and private family matters. I don't think religious organizations should be required to take governmental funds if doing so would force them to violate their beliefs. 

 

Reforming Our Democracy

Historians will argue about when our unusual democracy, dominated by only two parties, started to fall apart.  But it’s certain that the seemingly ever-increasing polarization within those parties began decades ago.  As insiders took control of their primary processes, moderate voices were muffled.  For the most part, as parties have become more extreme, voters with middle-of-the-road positions have been abandoned.

Reforming our democracy is a motivating force behind my candidacy.  It’s a hugely complex topic, but I’d like to think that most of us can agree on three general principles:

Taking Boundary Setting Away From Politicians

Mapmaking for political jurisdictions has been primarily controlled by legislators since the first one one was established.  It has been viewed a basic political right.  Computerization of voter and demographic data have refined this process and made it exquisitely precise.  Unfair maps are a main reason millions of Americans feel disenfranchised.  In most cases, they are.

Fortunately the problems generated by excessive gerrymandering are being addressed successfully across the nation.  Twenty one states use some form of nonpartisan or bipartisan redistricting commission to establish the maps for political jurisdictions. Efforts to do this are underway across the country including New Mexico.  I have been involved in several of them.

The 2020 Census is right around the corner.  The time is now to tackle this vital issue.  We need  a democracy in which the voters pick their elected officials rather than the other way around.

Open Primaries

In our current sorry state of affairs, the primary election is often the only opportunity for voters to weigh in as the winner of the primary is frequently unopposed in the general election.  Party primaries are increasingly dominated by insiders with extreme views.  Moderate voices within our parties have almost no influence.  

It’s even worse for those of us who choose not to affiliate ourselves with a party.  Our tax dollars pay for the parties to have their private elections.  And when the general election rolls around we regularly don’t even have a choice of candidates. 

Instead of a vibrant dialogue we have a keenly partisan process that limits participation and disenfranchises an ever-increasing percentage of the electorate.  There are many ways to remedy this inequity.  I favor the “top-two” mechanism that several states have adopted; but other proposals are worthy of consideration.

Ballot access

Over the past two centuries the Democratic and Republican Parties and their respective predecessors have used their power to unfairly exclude other parties, as well as independent and unaffiliated candidates.  New Mexico has some of the most restrictive laws in the nation according to Richard Winger the long-time publisher of Ballot Access News(I have quoted several excerpts from his 2014 Declaration  In Support Of Plaintiffs' Motion For Summary Judgment in the Parker v. Duran case in the US District Court for NM, below.)

As an unaligned (or nonpartisan) candidate, I will not be able to participate in the primary process.  Partisan candidates were able to begin their campaigns in October by circulating nominating petitions.  I wasn’t be able to begin that process until March.  I needed to collect 311 ballot petition signatures (+ a large buffer to ensure that the petitions weren't challenged -- a $15K+/- legal cost).  I would have only needed 75 if I were a Democrat and only 35 if I were a Republican!  What’s right about that?

My supporters and I are punished for not being partisans.  I will work hard to even the playing field for  ALL voters and for ALL candidates if I am elected.

7. In the 37 years since New Mexico created independent candidate procedures, only fifteen legislative independent candidates have qualified for the ballot. There have been 1,638 legislative elections in New Mexico since 1977 (not counting special legislative elections), so fifteen independent candidates in 1,638 elections is an even sparser record of independent candidate activity

8. During the last four years, New Mexico voters have had fewer independent and minor party candidates for federal and state office on their general election ballots than the voters of any other state except for Nebraska.  It is not surprising that Nebraska has fewer such candidates because Nebraska has a non-partisan legislature, so there are never any minor party or independent candidates for the Nebraska legislature.  

The Inequity of The Boundary of District 50 and the Need to Redraw it

Scholars and good government activists agree that political boundaries should be set around communities of interest (a longstanding legal and demographic term used to define people who share the same values) to the extent possible — of course no communities are homogeneous.  Natural features such as wide rivers and mountain ranges should also be considered.

District 50 used to be an agricultural and farming constituency in the center of our state.  It encompassed a broad geographic area known as The Estancia Valley.  It was shamefully redrawn after the last census to make it a safe Democratic district.  This was accomplished by adding the suburban Santa Fe community of Eldorado to it and taking out a great deal of the Estancia Valley (including the city of Estancia itself!).  It now extends over a hundred miles in length and includes 4,300 voters in Valencia County, primarily in the city of Rio Communities.  Those voters define geographic disenfranchisement — they are separated from the rest of the District by the Manzano Mountains with no roads directly connecting them to the rest of the District. Those people live in the Rio Grande Corridor and are part of the Belen metropolitan area.

It is time to stand up and make sure that whoever is setting the boundaries of this jurisdiction in the upcoming redistricting process adheres to the community of interest and natural feature principles.

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