Leo Jaramillo Challenges Sen. Richard Martinez In Sen. District 5

Our Choice In Senate District 5: Leo Jaramillo

Today, Retake Our Democracy announces its endorsement of Rio Arriba County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo who is challenging incumbent Senator Richard Martinez. A two-minute video on Jaramillo can be found at the bottom of this post.

Jaramillo’s Background

Jaramillo is a native son of the Española Valley and an alumnus of Española Valley High School. He has a B.A. in Mass Communication and Journalism from UNM and a Master of Arts in Education/ Curriculum Design and Instructional Leadership from the College of Santa Fe. He also served as a news writer/producer for KRQE News 13 in Albuquerque and as a middle school teacher in Belen prior to returning to the Española Valley.

Since 2003, he has been employed at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where he has served as a professional staff assistant, communication specialist, training specialist, recruiter, financial analyst, and most recently, chief of staff/administrative officer.

Jaramillo was elected to the Rio Arriba County Commission (District 2) in 2019 and was elected by his fellow Commissioners to serve as the Commission Chairman on January 28, 2020. As a County Commissioner, Jaramillo has focused on economic recovery, homelessness and housing issues.

Policy Priorities

Jaramillo’s policy priorities are outlined on his campaign website. Candidly, we would have preferred a bit more detail on his positions, but while lacking in specifics his positions do offer a sense of his values and priorities. Key priorities include:

  • Economic Recovery. Jaramillo feels we must provide a livable wage for workers, supporting and growing small business, and diversifying New Mexico’s economy to reduce reliance on income from the oil and gas industry.
  • Affordable Housing. Investments in housing create good-paying jobs, stimulate spending in the local economy, and increase state and local revenues. An adequate supply of affordable homes helps employees attract and retain qualified employees. 
  • Education. Jaramillo feels it is critical to increase funding for early pre-K, increase teacher salaries, and keep certified teachers in the classroom while also building a career pipeline for Education Assistants (EAs).
  • Mutual Domestic Water Systems & Acequias. Jaramillo would like to increase funding to the Office for the State Engineer 90/10 program for acequia infrastructure and revitalization. He feels it is time to fund a Rural Water Infrastructure Act like the Colonias Infrastructure Fund in the southern part of the state to provide needed sustained funding to rebuild the water systems in rural New Mexico.

Jaramillo’s Endorsements

Leo Jaramillo enjoys endorsements from:

  • Working Families Party
  • Planned Pareenthood
  • Olé
  • Sierra Club
  • Progress Now
  • Retake Our Democracy

While we feel that the choice between Supervisor Jaramillo and Senator Martinez was not as clear cut as our endorsements in the CD 3 Congressional primary or in the five other NM State Senate races where we endorsed a candidate, we gave the nod to Jaramillo in large part because of Martinez’s habit of voting with Republicans on a number of key bills. Let’s examine why we do not support or endorse Sen. Richard Martinez.

Why We Don’t Support Sen. Richard Martinez for Re-Election in Dist. 5

His Votes

Richard Martinez certainly has some good votes. He has also been a strong supporter of the Health Security Act. But he also has sided with the GOP on some very critical bills in the past two sessions. In 2020, Martinez voted NO on three Retake Our Democracy priority bills:

  • SB 2 Electric Vehicle Tax Credit
  • SB 95 Radioactive Waste Task Force (3 times)
  • SB 5 Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order

In 2019, he voted NO on:

  • HB 51 Decriminalize Abortion
  • SB 76 Prohibit Coyote Killing Contests
  • SB 492 Utility Securitization Financing

In 2017 he also voted NO on a bill that would have allowed individuals to manage their own end-of-life decisions, a bill that Retake has supported in the past.

Taken together, these votes show that Sen. Martinez is not interested in monitoring radioactive waste, protecting our wildlife, protecting all of us from gun violence (in 2010 he voted to allow concealed weapons in establishments serving alcohol), protecting our environment, and most importantly, protecting a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health decisions or anyone to manage their own end-of-life decisions.

His Character

While not a decisive factor in our endorsement, Sen. Martinez’s 2019 DUI arrest certainly was a factor. You don’t want to judge a man on the basis of a single mistake, but DUI is a major problem in NM and we should expect more from our leaders. What was more of a factor than the arrest itself was the way he handled it. From the video of his arrest to his prolonged court appearances, his absence of remorse and his failure to apologize to the victims suggest a political leader who has lost his ethical compass.

We opted to endorse Leo Jaramillo in Senate District 5