Thursday, September 21, 2023

Opinion: Senate Leadership Should Reflect Voter Wishes


On November 3 the voters of Albuquerque and throughout New Mexico delivered a clear message: we want forward-thinking solutions to our challenges and our Legislature cannot go back to “business as usual” in January. 

The voters in Albuquerque (and many in adjacent chunks of Sandoval County) participated in this call for change.  Newly elected are state Senators-Elect Democrat Katy Duhigg (west Abq, plus parts of RR); Democrat Brenda McKenna (Corrales and parts of RR and Bernalillo): Martin Hickey (northeast Heights) and Harold Pope (west Albuquerque).

Pope is the first African American Senator in New Mexico.  Pope defeated incumbent Republican Sander Rue.  A member of Nambe’ Pueblo, Brenda McKenna replaces conservative Democratic Senator Sapien who often defended his conservative votes because a Democrat with strong Democratic values “can’t win a swing district.”   Duhigg replaces Republican Senator Gould, and Hickey replaces Republican Senator White.  Senator Bill Tallman’s re-election in the northeast heights also challenges the old “business as usual” perspective. 

Will incumbent Senators join their new “class” to reflect the will of the voters by choosing new leadership who better represent the values our voters expressed?

A loose coalition of organizations and individuals who helped usher in this new Senate believe the next leaders in the New Mexico State Senate should embody now, and have consistently demonstrated with their actions (beyond rhetoric only) the following traits:

·Prioritize equity for all New Mexicans, regardless of race, class, gender, or gender identity.

·Promote a transparent legislative process, and especially a transparent budget process.

·Be accessible to all New Mexicans.

·Represent all New Mexicans, and not just those with money and power.

·Act with courage.   Be willing to take on and move bold policies. 

The “Senate Leadership Coalition” of individuals and organizations believes the New Mexico State Senate leadership should center all policy proposals around working families.

● Develop and promote a new, bold economic model for New Mexico, reducing our reliance on the declining oil and gas industry for our economy and also as a source of state revenue.

● Fully fund early childhood education, and equitably and sufficiently fund K12 schools, enabling the state to finally comply with the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit.

● Support workers’ rights, including domestic and immigrant workers.

● Support comprehensive healthcare access for all.

● Respect our pregnancy decisions.

● Protect our climate, air, land, and water.

● Ensure that the democratic process, and elections in particular, are open

and accessible.

Will Senators heed the call to act with courage and honor the will of the people by voting for leadership that shares the above values and moves bold policy forward?


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