We are in the home stretch with some very important races that are projected to be very close, where just a few votes could make the difference. We offer suggestions for how you can impact a few key races, and do it from home or by going door-to-door.
We are all tired of the endless stream of emails describing one critical deadline after another and pleading: can you save the world by rushing $10, $20 or $50 right now so we can meet our self-created deadline. And we’re also so tired of the endless stream of TV ads featuring Ronchetti’s faux earnestness and Yvette Herrell and her rented dog, Gabe, interrupting the evening news incessantly. I’m actually looking forward to the return of the pharma ads describing how their product can cure your (fill-in-the-blank) condition. At least they have snappy songs. But we aren’t to the finish line yet, and what we do in the last weeks could make a huge difference in the nation, in NM, and in local counties. So, over the next month, we will feature races where you can make difference.
When we offer up suggestions for campaigns to support, we consider multiple factors: 1) magnitude of the impact of your personal time or money; 2) ripple effect — can you impact multiple races in calls/canvassing, 3) importance of race; 4) quality of candidate and campaign. Today we offer up a race that provides an opportunity to support a truly great candidate for the Bernalillo County Commission, a race that has statewide importance and that can have a huge and sustained ripple effect. And because of how Eric Olivas has structured his campaign, you can support a Dem House Rep at the same time you help Eric. as we explain. Read on!
Bernalillo County Commission Races
The BernCo Commission is 4-1 Dems, but only one incumbent is a solidly progressive: Adrianne Barboa. Two of the remaining Dems are DINOS who typically vote with the sole Republican, meaning nothing good passes and much bad does. In District 1, it is imperative to elect Barbara Baca to hold the seat of the other solid progressive, the retiring Debbie O’Malley. Based on many factors, with sustained volunteer support Baca should prevail in this race. But to achieve a solid progressive majority, we must also flip the seat in Dist. 5, a more difficult challenge, but because we have such a tremendous candidate in Eric Olivas, we can win this too. Winning both of the races would change the composition of the Commission from a 3-2 conservative majority to a 3-2 progressive majority. So both these races matter.
Why does Bernalillo County Commission have statewide importance?
The Commission will be responsible for appointing likely two State Senators in 2023, one for the resigning or removed (we hope), Sen Daniel Ivey Soto and one for for the retiring Sen. Jacob Candeleria should he resign on Jan 1, as he has hinted he will do to spend more time with his family . In either case, nary a session goes by without some legislator retiring or resigning, so the power to appoint is critical. Recall that when afforded the opportunity to appoint a replacement for resigning progressive Rep. Brittney Barrera, the BernCo Commission appointed the decidedly centrist and staunch Santolina supporter, Art de la Cruz. With two Senate seats possibly at the top of the Commission’s 2023 agenda, we badly need to shift the Commission to the left.
Whenever a legislator resigns, retires or is removed, the power to appoint the replacement resides with the county commission where that Senate or House district resides.If the district is located entirely in a county, that Commission has full responsibility for appointing a replacement. The Governor must select that county’s nominee. If the district boundaries cross into two or more counties, each county Commission nominates a candidate and the Governor selects from those nominees. To get a handle on the potential impact of the BernCo Commission race on the legislature, in the Senate, the BernCo Commission has total responsibility for 29%(12 seats) of all Senate appointments and partial influence on another 5 potential Senate appointments. That’s 12 seats that sit entirely in Bernalillo County, another 5 partially, and the commission has sole authority to appoint replacements if any of those 12 elected Senators retire or resign. Their appointment in any of the other 5 Senate seats will be considered by the Governor along with the appointment from the other county in which that Senator has constituents.
In the House, Bernalillo County Commission has full responsibility for 30% of all appointments and full or partial influence on another two House seats . That’s 21 seats that entirely sit in BernCo and another 2 partially. So the ideological balance of the Roundhouse could well be at stake, as after (and sometimes during) every session one or more legislators leave office, and for those whose district is wholly or partially in Bernalillo County, it is up to this Commission to appoint replacements.
Beyond this reason, the Commission will continue to be responsible for determining the fate of the horribly misguided Santolina Development, and without winning both these seats there is little hope of putting an end to the decade-long effort on the part of developers to get the green light.
Why is Santolina such an important issue? It is estimated that Santolina would house more than 90,000 people and demand over 14 million gallons of water per day. Water remains a major concern, especially in a region that continues to experience long-term drought coupled with climate change. Grassroots community organizations like Southwest Organizing Project (SWAP), Olé, and New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC), have stood firmly in opposition to Santolina. Click here to review a press release from this coalition. It outlines the reasons for opposition very clearly, how irresponsible it would be to approve a massive development that would significantly snarl traffic, overburden already underfunded schools, and deplete important water supplies.
Given the current composition of the BernCo Commission, wins by our two endorsed candidates would result in a stable 3-2 vote against Santolina. But just as important, a reliable 3-2 progressive vote would allow the Commission to protect our environment and our workers, and support other issues important to BernCo residents.
Lastly, without two BernCo Commission wins, we face the prospect of conservative BernCo apointments creating a more conservative state legislature. So lace up your shoes and hit the pavement, or get a cup of coffee and get on the phone. We’ve got two races to win.
Bernalillo County Commission District 1: Canvass, Call and/or Contribute for Barbara Baca
Barbara Baca has demonstrated a strong history of advocacy for the environment, conservation, and open space. She started her career with the Albuquerque Open Space Program in 1983. She worked collaboratively with Open Space volunteers and community advocates to develop the Rio Grande Valley State Park Management Plan to protect the Bosque. She was the co-author of the Northwest Mesa Escarpment Plan, working with both open space advocates and developers. This plan led to the creation of Petroglyph National Monument. Barbara also served as the Social Services Division Manager for the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Department of Senior Affairs from 2001-2009. In 2014, she retired after serving for 5 years as the Director of the Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Department. She was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District At-Large position in 2019. In short, she would be a good friend of people and planet on the Commission.
Click here for more info on Baca and how to support her campaign.
Bernalillo County Commission District 5: Canvass, Call and/or Contribute for Eric Olivas.
Eric Olivas has consistently opposed Santolina and is a small business owner who is a strong advocate for worker’s rights and benefits. From his campaign website:
“Pay the prevailing wage for all county employees and county contractors on all county projects, not just large ones, to level the playing field for small businesses. I will also always support union jobs.Olivas for Bernco
In our interview with Eric (below) it was clear that he has a deep commitment to protecting open space and water, both of which are key factors in Santolina. His campaign website calls out his position on local economic development and supporting working people. His website also includes articulate plans to address homelessness and public safety, plus policy priorities that address preservation of natural resources.
Please keep in mind that this commission district also overlaps with 4 competitive state house districts (HD28 – Herndon, HD20 – Dixon, HD30 – Figueroa, HD27 – Matthews). This means that efforts in the county commission race also benefit state House candidates and Democrats across the ballot as we get out the vote and engage voters. The Olivas campaign partners each week with a different state House candidate to increase our capacity to door-knock and do direct outreach for both candidates.
To volunteer to phone bank or door knock please contact Felecia Pohl at 505-377-8173 or email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to reach out to Eric directly at 505-934-4540 if you have any questions about the race, or check out the campaign website at: www.olivasforbernco.com.
To contribute to the campaign use the Act Blue link below or send a check to: Eric Olivas for Bernalillo County, 2708 Valencia Dr. NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110.
Save the Date: Oct 10, Indigenous People’s Day
An event is being organized by @nohonoringenocide, a loose-knit coalition of indigenous organizers. The purpose is to celebrate indigenous people and counter the Columbus day narrative of European colonizers as heroes. I’m not sure exactly what form that will take at Cathedral Park, but we assume some speakers, then culminating in a march of some kind. If you are aware of other Indigenous Peoples Day celebrations, please comment at the end of this post to share with our readers.
Tomorrow or Saturday we will publish a post describing how mega corporations like Johnson & Johnson routinely escape government regulation and are using obscene legal gymnastics to protect their assets while escaping liability for even the most egregious failure’s to protect consumer safety. Stay tuned.
In solidarity & hope,
Paul & Roxanne
Categories: Local-State Government & Legislation