Rodella vs. Herrera on the Issues & Next Phase of Input Process

Rodella vs. Herrera on the issues, more on the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, and a call for donations for Janene Yazzie, a heroic candidate for Public Regulation Commission.

Before we dive in to the Herrera vs. Rodella campaign and a serious look at the issues, a brief revisit of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (Midtown Project) and an even quicker request for donations for Janene Yazzie’s campaign for PRC Commission in her race against Lynda Lovejoy. I am guessing that with Lovejoy’s tight relationship with PNM, she doesn’t sweat funding for lawn signs, but Janene is of the people and needs $500 TODAY to print lawn signs. She is a young, indigenous candidate, very sharp, and ready to take on PNM and protect ratepayers (you) and our planet (everything). We need to chip in. Click here to make a contribution. Once you’ve made the contribution, read on about SFUAD, and then below an analysis of the Susan Herrera vs. Rep. Debbie Rodella primary and their stands and votes on the issues.

Poor People’s Campaign Kickoff in Santa Fe, TOMORROW, Friday, April 20 at 6pm-7:30pm at Earth Care, Jaguar and Country Club Rd.  The nationwide Poor People’s Campaign starts in 4 weeks. You are needed to help launch this critical movement in New Mexico. Please join us for an introduction to the campaign this Friday. PPC is a spirit-led justice movement responding to the intersectional evils of racism, poverty, the war on the economy and environmental degradation. 50 years after MLK initiated the first PPC, this broad-based national coalition carries on his unfinished work in 2018. A series of nonviolent acts of civil disobedience are being planned beginning on May 13. Come to this event to find out more. Unfortunately four of the six members of the Retake Leadership Team will be in Truth or Consequences for the Democratic Party’s State Central Committee meeting. We are eager to hear what is coming.   Click here to RSVP.

Santa Fe University of Art & Design: Update on Process

Click here to take the MidTown Project (aka Santa Fe University of Art & Design) survey. If you did not attend one of the presentations on the five designs that have been developed, I’d recommend first clicking to review the summaries for each. Be warned: they are largely descriptions of buildings, roads, parking, and utilities. Certainly these are important and worth your consideration.

To our mind, the most important comment that could be made is that we simply don’t see a strong commitment to a social purpose or to very-low income rental units or to anything like a presence for health, behavioral health, or human and employment services that could be woven into the design to advance a social purpose and address the needs of very low-income residents. This occurred, we feel, because while organizations like Somos, Earth Care, and Chainbreaker were engaged to encourage their communities to provide input into the five designs, there was no proactive and sustained effort to engage these stakeholders in the process of formulating the overall priorities of the project BEFORE developers and architects put together their vision. We hope the City will consider re-engaging these stakeholders to explore how best to integrate a sustainable social purpose to frame the entire project.

The best of the five in respect to the bones of the development is Midtown EcoDistrict largely for three factors: 1) well-researched, cutting edge innovation and best practices for a green footprint and sustainable infrastructure (greens will love this design); 2) they are committed to a slower, community-driven process for rolling out the land uses; 3) their connection to the Sawmill Community Land Trust suggests a strong commitment to a social purpose and to very low-income populations. The fifth model, Collaborate and Connect, was the only design to make a specific commitment to affordable housing with 2,500 units of apartments. But the design specs didn’t indicate how ‘affordable’ was defined. Still, this was a commendable commitment that could be a starting point for development of an array of rental units affordable to very low-income residents. Click here to take the survey.

Rep. Debbie Rodella vs. Susan Herrera in District 41: Issues and Positions

Retake Our Democracy is not getting involved in many primaries. Despite their importance, we have taken no position on the Governor or Land Commissioner races. We are supporting Bill McCamley for Auditor and both Janene Yazzie (challenging Lynda Lovejoy) and Steve Fischmann (challenging Sandy Jones) in critical PRC races. As of now we have not taken any position on House primary races, although we have welcomed challenges in the entirely safe Districts 41 and 46 as there are credible candidates who are forcing discussion of issues that Retake feels are important.

We are doing a deep-dive study of the challenge to Carl Trujillo and have met with both the challenger Andrea Romero and  Rep. Trujillo.  We have conducted extensive research on Trujillo’s votes, positions, and funders, as well meeting with representatives of the pueblos in District 46. We will present our findings soon.

We developed an interest in the race in District 41 during our yearlong research that involved dozens of interviews with legislators and progressive non-profits. Rep. Rodella’s name came up repeatedly as using her committee membership to derail legislation we support. She also has a lifetime “D” rating from Conservation Voters of New Mexico. We felt that, based upon this, we needed to find out more about Rep. Rodella and Susan Herrera, her challenger. While we have not formally endorsed or supported either candidate, the analysis below will make it clear that Susan Herrera’s positions are more aligned with ours, and it will also be clear why we have problems with a number of Rep. Rodella’s votes. I tried very hard to find online information about both candidates and met with more success in finding information about Susan Herrera as there is no website for Rep. Rodella’s campaign.

Rep. Debbie Rodella: Rep. Rodella has no website or public bio that I could find, so I gathered this information from Wikipedia: “Rodella was first elected to the 70-seat New Mexico House of Representatives in 1992. Running unopposed in both primary and general elections since 2006, Rodella was re-elected to a twelfth consecutive two-year term in November 2014.[4] Rodella serves as the chair of the House Business & Industry Committee, Interim Chair of the Economic and Rural Development Committee, and a member of both the Voters & Elections and the Rules & Order of Business Committees.[2] In 2013, Rodella voted with Republicans to block a same-sex marriage bill in committee,[5] and against a bill (which passed) to reduce the penalties for the possession of marijuana.[6] ” There is more on Wikipedia but it was unrelated to issues and was more related to her husband’s legal troubles, which really shouldn’t be centered as part of any campaign.

Since I could find no other online information, and in the interest of fairness, I provide this excerpt from her campaign launch announcement: “I’m running again because I care. I was born and raised in the Española Valley and I care about our communities where my family has lived for generations, where my roots run deep. I’m running again because I want to give something back. I appreciate our beautifully diverse cultures that bring us closer together and I want to continue to be your voice in Santa Fe. I’m running again because of my experience, my ability to get things done, my willingness to find common ground and consensus to arrive at solutions.” Also, in the interest of fairness, while having only a “D,” or 61%, rating on the Conservation Voters of New Mexico scorecard (2% lower than Nate Gentry and 39% lower than Bill McCamley’s perfect 100%), she scored a near perfect rating on Common Cause’s scorecard, voting with Common Cause on 8 of 9 bills sponsored by Common Cause, only missing a perfect score by being absent for one vote.

Susan Herrera:  Susan Herrera served as the founding executive director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory Foundation (LANLF). Susan built the foundation from a $3 million asset pool with an annual giving budget of $2 million to a major regional foundation with an endowment of $80 million and annual giving budget of $4 million in seventeen years. During her tenure, LANLF priorities included a five-year $20 million Inquiry Science Program in 20 NNM school districts with 1,000 teachers and 25,000 students in partnership with the LANLF and Smithsonian Institution. The LANLF Inquiry Science Program culminated in a statistical significant improvement for all students in grades 3 through 6 in the areas of math, science, reading, and writing verified by an independent evaluation. The scholarship program to date has a college graduation rate of 95%. LANLF was instrumental in helping to launch the First Born© Program in New Mexico, using a home visitation model to help first-time families understand and use the latest research in early childhood development. LANLF helped develop private and public support enabling 17 out of 34 counties in the state to implement the First Born© model. LANLF helped create an annual funding stream which today serves 5,000 families statewide for early childhood home visitation programs.

Susan has over forty-five years of experience in the non-profit and government sector.  She served in Washington D.C. as legislative staff and was director of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus before relocating to New Mexico. Prior to her work at LANLF, Susan worked for the University of New Mexico, non-profit organizations including Siete del Norte and Child-Rite. She then founded the Northern New Mexico Community College Foundation.  To date, the Foundation has awarded $3 million to 1,500 students in Northern New Mexico. She has extensive experience in legislation and strategic planning, program development and design, grantwriting, non-profit development, and organizational management, as well as extensive experience in fundraising. She served as the President of the New Mexico Association of Grantmakers.

On to the Issues

To be candid, some of the narrative below came from Herrera’s campaign website, but again, every effort to locate information on Rodella’s votes and positions came up empty. To counter this, Retake will welcome a guest blog from Rep. Rodella.


  • Herrera.  Susan will fight to make sure New Mexican water, land, and all natural resources are protected. She will stand up to special interest groups who would deplete our land and water for corporate gain through drilling, fracking, and overuse.
  • Rodella. Gas and oil lobbyists donate thousands of dollars to Rodella’s campaign. She has voted against NM Air Quality amendments that would limit pollution, she has voted against a Uranium Clean-up fund, and against the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards. She has a “D” rating (61% for 2017 and lower than even Nate Gentry) from the Conservation Voters of NM. And was absent from a narrow floor vote on HB 338, which would have created a legal path to creating community solar gardens. Carl Trujillo and Rodella also voted for EDDY-LEA ENERGY ALLIANCE STORAGE FACILITY which would establish a Consolidated Interim Storage Facility to temporarily store the spent nuclear fuel generated by America’s nuclear power plants. This memorial asked our federal elected officials to advocate for NM becoming the dumping ground for the nation’s spent nuclear fuel. 

Pay Day Loans:  According to New Mexico Voices for Children, there are more payday lenders in NM than there are fast-food outlets.

  • Herrera. Instead of trapping our citizens with predatory small loan interest rates of 175% or more that result in a debt-trap that is hard to overcome, Susan supports short-term employee loan programs similar to those offered in seven NM counties, i.e. capping loan interest rates at 36%.
  • Rodella. Debbie receives funding from corporations that support Payday loan operations. She stated that the vote to limit predatory lenders to interest rates of 175% was a “good compromise.”

Voter Rights

  • Herrera.  Susan is strongly in favor of the popular vote in NM as well as same day voting registration and automatic voter registration with issuance of a driver’s license.
  • Rodella. Debbie left the room rather than vote on the popular vote in NM. It failed by one vote. She is also against same day voting and automatic voting registration.

Drug Reform

  • Herrera.  Susan supports medical marijuana and the decriminalization and regulation of cannabis. She also strongly supports the economic benefits of the hemp industry in NM.
  • Rodella. Debbie voted against medical marijuana legalization and voted against reducing the penalties for marijuana possession.

Gun Violence Prevention

  • Herrera.  Susan is in favor of universal background checks, mental health screening, and banning semi-automatic weapons. She will work to strengthen sensible gun control measures in NM such as banning firearm sales to anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence.
  • Rodella.  Debbie voted for the right to carry concealed weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. She is endorsed and funded by the NRA who consistently reward her with a high rating, including an “A+” in 2015.

Well there you have it, a side by side comparison. It is clear which candidate is more aligned with the values and priorities supported by Retake Our Democracy. But, again in the interest of fairness, we provide contact information for both campaigns below and encourage you to canvass, call, and contribute for the candidate of your choice.

Click here to find out how to contribute, call, canvass or otherwise support the Herrera campaign.

Click here to find Rep. Rodella’s campaign Facebook page. I could not locate a campaign website.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Local-State Government & Legislation, Social & Racial Justice & Immigration Reform, Uncategorized

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5 replies

  1. more on Rodella vs Herrera — rumors have it Rodella really lives Bernalillo County and comes to her Rio Arriba home (in her district) only when necessary. I recently emailed THE NEW MEXICAN’s reporter, T. Stelnicki, if he had heard the rumors, to which he quickly replied:
    “I’m told by our state politics reporter, Andrew Oxford, that rumors about Rep. Rodella’s living arrangement are indeed common. But I’m also told that it’s sort of an open secret with many legislators — they are through some wiggly language allowed to claim residency somewhere if they are a “substantial presence” in that area, i.e., own a business, or something else. So I’m told Rep. Rodella has homes in both Bernalillo County and La Mesilla and … can claim residency in the latter. If you’re interested in more, I recommend Andrew, he knows a lot more about this stuff than I do as a lowly city hall reporter.”

  2. You are critical of Carl Trujillo’s position on storage of nuclear waste. You might wish to take a look at what Nuclear Watch has to say about the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities (until recently Andrea Romero served as executive director) and its position on nuclear waste:

    “Despite its rhetoric on producing jobs through cleanup, the Regional Coalition has yet to take a position advocating for genuine comprehensive cleanup at LANL. Instead, the Coalition seems to condone DOE and LANL plans to “cap and cover” and leave ~150,000 cubic meters of radioactive and toxic wastes permanently buried in unlined pits and trenches at the Lab’s largest waste dump, Area G. This will create a permanent nuclear waste dump above the regional groundwater aquifer, three miles uphill from the Rio Grande. Radioactive and toxic wastes are buried directly in the ground without liners, and migration of plutonium has been detected 200 feet below Area G’s surface.”
    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities: Benefits for the Select Few

    Lined cap and cover was one of the alternatives considered and rejected in the NEPA process that ultimately resulted in WIPP. Unlined cap and cover is an environmental disaster waiting to happen.

  3. Excellent side-by-side comparison.

  4. Some comments on the midtown campus design studies:

    If one is primarily concerned with affordable housing issues, four of the studies hardly provide realistic approaches. 3. Midtown Ecodistrict doesn’t appear to add much additional housing of any kind in its design while 4. Watershed Creativity is more of a development strategy/style (filled with lots of water related eco-buzzwords) than an actual design/planning concept.

    2. Midtown Fusion and 5. Collaborate and Connect both put most new housing in their concepts outside of the existing campus land, placing it in mixed use developments with structured or underground parking along the adjacent St. Michaels/Cerrillos corridors, mostly on private land currently used for strip malls and big box stores. There are a number of problems with this strategy:

    Mixed-use developments (particularly those with many sustainability features) can be difficult to finance since the pro-forma is so difficult to calculate or justify unless it is in an area with considerable mixed-use development in place. I also doubt that it will be possible to get tax credit financing (necessary for very low-income housing) for mixed use developments.

    Relying on structured or underground parking for residential developments can add $20,000 to $30,000 for each parking space to the cost of a unit. In mixed use developments with structured or underground parking, there also tends to be considerable problems due to residents and their visitors competing for garage spaces with commercial users unless there is strict garage security monitoring (expensive).

    Although there is already zoning in place for mixed-use development in the St. Michaels corridor, so far no one has taken advantage of this zoning to actually build a mixed-use development, indicating that the economics of such developments in that area (so far) aren’t viable.

    Some studies have found that policies encouraging mixed use developments may actually reduce affordability in attractive areas: See

    For further discussions of issues with mixed use developments, see:

    Given all this, it seems that the only proposal that might have practical application is 1. Midtown Motion which envisions a high density infill development inside the existing campus property which could add roughly 1.75 million square feet of building space on the property and would use primarily surface parking. If
    1.2 million square feet of this were used for residential units at an average of 1200 square feet per unit, this would add 1000 units. Sufficient parking might still be a problem (since their design only provides 2225 parking spots) but it certainly seems more viable than the others.

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