Our 2022 Endorsements

Before reviewing these endorsements, please read 2022 Election Central at this link (same text as April 25, 2022 blog post). Below we offer our endorsements for:

  1. Statewide races;
  2. Over a dozen NM House District races;
  3. The early childhood constitutional amendment;
  4. Key county commission races in Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties.

Governor

We endorse, the re-election of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. There is no Democrat challenging MLG in the primary, so our endorsement is for the November election. No matter how much she has disappointed us on climate and energy issues, she stood up to fierce challenges from the right and likely saved thousands of New Mexican lives with her science-based leadership throughout COVID. And many of the bills passed in the past two years, hallmarks of progress, would have been vetoed by any GOP Governor. We don’t want to return to the dark ages of 2015 where it was considered a big win to pass a good bill, just to force a sitting GOP Governor to veto it. That is not a win.

Retake Endorses Michelle Lujan Grisham for Governor.


Attorney General

Bear with us — this one requires a lot of background: This race race pits the ever-likeable State Auditor Brian Colón against Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez. We devoted days to considering this endorsement, conducting interviews with both candidates and speaking with individuals who work with the AG’s office.

Well before Searchlight’s April 20 publication of “Outside Counsel: Out-of-state law firms make big contributions — and get handed big cases,” we were told of how the AG’s office was riddled with an unseemly “pay to play” process used to cultivate campaign donations from out-of-state law firms who then get multi-million dollar contracts from the AG’s office to handle cases that could and should be handled by AG attorneys. The information we learned well before the Searchlight article appeared raised serious concerns about the Colón candidacy and provided strong evidence of a “pay-to play” scheme that has been dominating the AG operations for far too long. And as Searchlight’s analysis reveals, there is compelling evidence that Brian Colón would continue to play in that “pay to play” arena, while Raul Torrez would dismantle it. Those interested in the details of this “pay to play” ploy should examine Searchlight’s in-depth investigation published earlier this week. To give you an idea, here is a selection of particularly compelling citations from this revealing piece.

Over the past two months, several of the nation’s large law firms have poured money into the campaign coffers of Brian Colón, New Mexico’s state auditor and leading Democratic candidate for attorney general. 

Since 2018, when he was elected state auditor, Colón has received more than $165,000 from out-of-state litigation firms. Of those donations, $124,000 came from just seven firms — or employees and family members affiliated with those firms. 

The donations reflect a practice that is now commonplace: large law firms, usually from out of state, making big donations to campaigns for attorneys general. In New Mexico, many of these same firms have later been offered lucrative contracts to represent the state in litigation and class action lawsuits. 

From Searchlight: “Outside Counsel: Out-of-state law firms make big contributions — and get handed big cases

Since the Searchlight piece was published, Colón has stated he would make no changes in the litigation process. In contrast, as reported by Searchlight:

“Raúl Torrez, the other Democratic candidate, has not taken any major donations from out-of-state plaintiff’s firms. He has accepted at least $32,200, all from New Mexico-based litigation firms — none of whom currently has a contract within the state.”

From Searchlight: “Outside Counsel: Out-of-state law firms make big contributions — and get handed big cases

In a lengthy interview conducted prior to the publication of the Searchlight piece, Torrez told Retake that the pay-to-play practice has been operative since at least the days of Gary King, something validated by Searchlight. n our conversation, Torrez laid out how he would reform the system. He stated that well-organized and well-managed AG offices like those in NY and CA recruit skilled in-state attorneys who compete for highly sought positions. The positions are highly sought because in those offices, AG attorneys get to take important cases. In NM, because our AG too often relies on out-of-state firms who have contributed to the AG’s campaign, under-utilized AG staff attorneys simply leave. As a result, the NM AG’s office suffers from high turnover — good attorneys who are passed over for important cases quickly move on.

NM State Rep. Daymon Ely expressed his concerns to Searchlight:

Daymon Ely, a Democrat state representative from Corrales and a legal malpractice attorney, said he is concerned about the number of cases farmed out to powerful law firms in places like New York, Chicago and Denver. Beyond conflict of interest concerns, he said that the extensive use of outside lawyers has eroded legal expertise within the AG’s office and that unlike state lawyers, outside firms have an incentive to settle a case quickly in order to get paid, often to the disadvantage of New Mexico consumers….

To illustrate, he cited the recent settlement with Vivint Solar, a Utah-based company accused of fraud and racketeering. 

In 2018, Balderas brought a complaint against Vivint, accusing the company of deceptive marketing that adversely affected thousands of New Mexican homeowners. Though the case ended in a $1.95 million settlement, not one consumer in New Mexico received financial restitution.

And in the end, Balderas agreed to seal all of the documents in the case, impeding the ability of in-state lawyers to seek restitution for dozens of Vivint customers. 

Most of the money from that settlement went to the attorney general’s office for legal fees, while nearly 40 percent went to the outside law firm contracted for the case. That firm was Philadelphia-based Barrack, Rodos and Bacine, which made a $5,000 donation to Balderas’s campaign about six months prior to being contracted for the case….

Under Balderas, the use of outside law firms has gone beyond consumer fraud cases. The AG’s office has contracted them for cases that would usually be considered core functions of the office. The largest of these is Texas v. New Mexico, an interstate water dispute before the U.S. Supreme Court with as much as $1 billion on the line for the state. For that case, Balderas hired Robles, Rael and Anaya, an Albuquerque firm that donated at least $36,000 to Balderas’ campaigns for State Auditor and Attorney General, according to a previous Searchlight investigation.

Marcus Rael, the named partner, is not a water attorney, nor did he have experience before the Supreme Court prior to this case. He is, however, a friend of both Balderas and Colón from their days at UNM Law School.” 

From Searchlight: “Outside CounselOut-of-state law firms make big contributions — and get handed big cases

So it isn’t just that this pay-to-play system is unethical, as illustrated by the Vivint example, it also directly harms New Mexicans who expect their AG to be more concerned about them than donations and profits of out-of-state law firms. Torrez has a plan to fix this. He would seek funds from the legislature to rebuild the AG’s office with skilled, experienced attorneys from NM. Even with that, Torrez acknowledged there would be times when expert, out-of-state firms would be needed. To prevent the pay-to-play system outlined in Searchlight, Torrez would (and has) refused donations from out-of-state firms. He would establish a vetting system when outside counsel is needed, with a team of experienced NM attorneys vetting and selecting firms applying for a contract.

But beyond the pay-to-play scheme that raises questions about Brian Colón’s candidacy and the culture within the AG’s office, there is a lot to like about Raúl Torrez. In our conversations with Torrez we were impressed with his grasp of the role of the AG and his plans for filling that role. We were also impressed with his commitment to bail reform and restorative justice, commitments that were independently affirmed by folks who work with Torrez directly. We left our last conversation convinced that he would be unafraid to go after corruption whether involving powerful business or political figures. He also went into detail outlining how he would transform the pay-to-play culture that has beset the AGs office for many years (above). Our discussion occurred before the Searchlight report was published, but Torrez clearly understands how the pay-to-play culture could be reformed. And in light of what was revealed in the Searchlight piece, we do not have that confidence in Brian Colón.

This is perhaps the strongest endorsement Retake is making. The Balderas, Colón, Marcus Rael clique needs to go. It’s time to elect an AG that will be the people’s AG.

Click here for more info on Torrez, including how to donate or volunteer.

Retake endorses Raúl Torrez for Attorney General.


Treasurer

We have appreciated Laura Montoya’s principles and priorities since meeting her on a fracking tour of the Chaco Canyon area in 2018. But while it is nice to have a Treasurer with solid principles, experience with basic accounting and the rules and regulations that outline how state funds are to be collected and used is even more important.

While serving two terms as Sandoval County Treasurer, Laura Montoya was the chairwoman of the Sandoval Treasurer’s Investment Committee and managed approximately $40 million in investments, $50 million in non-property tax revenue, over $1.2 billion in property taxes, and achieved a 99.37% collection rate. Under her leadership, the Treasurer’s Office was able to get four clean audits to complete her term with the county.

Laura was the only New Mexico County elected official that served in an appointed leadership position by the President of the National Association of Counties (NACo), serving for seven years as Vice-Chair of the Finance, Pensions & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee. And Laura is the only County Treasurer to have served on the New Mexico Tax Policy Committee. As the Finance, Pensions & Intergovernmental Affairs Vice-Chair, Montoya worked on national policies that affect counties as relates to taxes, pensions, county, and tribal governments, and elections.

This wealth of experience dwarfs the experience of her opponent, Heather Benavidez, who has served as chief assistant to Treasurer Tim Eichenberg for the past two years. Before that she served New Mexicans for 18 years on the local and state level as an employee for the 13th Judicial District, she was elected to two terms as municipal judge for the City of Rio Communities, and she was appointed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2018 to serve as Magistrate Court judge.

But aside from her two years serving under Eichenberg, none of Benavidez’s prior experience is germane to serving as State Treasurer. When it comes to relevant experience, Montoya enjoys a decided edge.

Roxanne and I attended a candidate forum in Galisteo where both candidates for Treasurer spoke. The contrast could not have been more pronounced.

Heather Benavidez appeared quite affable, but with question after question she showed gaps in her grasp of the work ahead, while Laura Montoya came prepared and with solid responses to all questions.

What we find most compelling is Montoya’s ten years of hands-on leadership in Valencia County, successfully managing exactly the same kind of responsibilities she would manage as State Treasurer. And we saw nothing in the Galisteo Q&A to cause us to change our views. Indeed, the Q&A reinforced our support for Laura Montoya.

Click here for more information about Laura Montoya, and how to support her campaign.

Retake endorses Laura Montoya for State Treasurer.


State Auditor

This is the most difficult choice of any of the statewide races, as we have two well-qualified candidates to choose from. There is no bad choice here, so voters are not picking the lesser of two evils. Both candidates have experience that readies them to serve as State Auditor.

When serving on the Santa Fe City Council, Maestas responded to public anger over unanswered questions about how the city of Santa Fe handled a $30.3 million voter-approved bond issue for parks and trail projects, and he took the bold step of calling for the city to commission a full, independent financial audit of the bond-issued projects.

As Public Regulation Commissioner Chair, Maestas displayed professional, competent, and thoughtful decision-making when he took two tough votes in December 2021. He voted against both the Avangrid-PNM merger and PNM’s application for sale of its Four Corners coal plant. Maestas determined that the Avangrid-PNM merger was not in the public interest and Avangrid’s takeover would have resulted in financial risks for customers that far outweigh the benefits. In the Four Corners case, he rejected PNM’s inclusion of potentially “imprudent” costs that would have resulted in the continuation of the burning of coal and a cost to ratepayers of $300M plus interest that would have appeared on their bills for the next 25 years. Maestas’ measured and methodical oversight gives us confidence that he has the integrity to hold corporations accountable and act similarly in his capacity as Auditor.

Zack Quintero is also well qualified. While in law school, he was appointed to work on the Bernalillo County Air Quality Control Board. His work focused on bringing resources, advocacy, and justice to communities hit hard by environmental harm. Most recently Quintero served on the state Medical Advisory Team and as the State Ombudsman for New Mexico. In these roles, he supported the statewide response in keeping New Mexicans safe during COVID and carried out investigations into predatory practices of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation of the most vulnerable New Mexicans. As the State Ombudsman, Zack refined and created new projects that supported resident rights, increased investigation options for families, and directly managed investigations on issues of abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. Zack expanded the program to involve dignity, wellness, and access to justice.

Retake knows both candidates quite well and finds both to be qualified for the job. But in the end, Maestas’ courage on the PRC, standing up to Avangrid and PNM, carried the day. We were initially concerned that he is endorsed by Working Together, a centrist corporate-funded PAC that is attempting to unseat progressives. But after talking with Maestas about this, he sent us copies of emails he had sent out to his supporters indicating that he did not seek or welcome the endorsement and would not accept funds from the PAC.

Click here for more information about Maestas and to donate or volunteer

Retake endorses Joe Maestas for State Auditor. 


The Legislature

House District 12 is an Albuquerque South Valley District. When Representative Brittney Barreras resigned earlier this year, former Bernalillo County Commissioner Art De La Cruz was appointed to fill the vacancy by the County Commission. Two women who competed with De La Cruz for the appointment are running against him now in the Democratic primary. They are Nicole Olonovich and Melissa Armijo. The two Democratic woman are both far more progressive than the conservative De La Cruz. No Republican has filed to run, so whoever is elected in the Democratic primary takes the seat. De La Cruz is a long-time Santolina supporter and centrist Dem, at best. With two progressives challengers, there is a real risk of splitting the left vote and returning De La Cruz to the House. Since both challengers have progressive policy positions, we focused on information shared by trusted allies.

We were told by former State Senator Eric Griego that “I have known Melissa for over ten years and respect her commitment to children and families. That is why I am supporting her.”

Armijo’s commitment to youth is well-established. From her campaign website:

With her late husband, she co-founded the Armijo Family Scholarship Fund, which has raised and distributed more than $120,000 in scholarships to New Mexico students who are majoring in education and STEM fields.

“Education is my passion and my purpose. I am Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for Youth Development Inc. (YDI) because of my passion for helping young people grow and thrive. Because of this position, some people have mistakenly assumed that I support Santolina. That is simply not true. I serve on YDI’s Board because of my lifelong mission to help young people.

I have received numerous questions from residents about my position on the proposed Santolina development. Let me be clear: I am 100% opposed to the Santolina development and always have been. House District 12 and the entire South Valley is always last in line for infrastructure improvements. I strongly oppose sending critical resources to Santolina that would leapfrog the place where I was raised and have chosen to raise my family.”

https://www.melissaarmijofornm.com/

With this race, we devoted a great deal of time speaking with individuals who knew both candidates. In most every instance, while noting Olonovich’s solid progressive positions, people stated that Armijo was the candidate better suited to serve as a state Rep. We were told over and over about Armijo’s strong leadership skills and her highly collaborative and congenial communication. When combined with her solid positions on the issues, Retake concluded that Armijo is the better candidate.

Click here, for more information about Melissa Armijo, with descriptions of her positions on issues, a list of endorsements, and a Take Action link to a page where you can sign up to volunteer for or donate to the campaign.

Retake Endorses Melissa Armijo.


House District 17: This is an open seat on the West Side of Albuquerque, the result of the retirement of Representative Deborah Armstrong, who will be sorely missed. The district has been significantly redrawn and now includes Albuquerque’s Northwest side. It has attracted two Democrats, former City Councilor Cynthia Borrego and Darrell Deaguero in the primary. The Republican candidates are Ellis McMath and Joshua Neal. Because of redistricting, this race is viewed as highly competitive because Democrat voter registration is projected at just 51%. We’ve spoken with allies in the district and in greater ABQ and have been told that Darrell Deaguero is a progressive indigenous candidate and the better choice by a long shot.

We were unable to find a campaign website for Deaguero.

Retake Endorses Darrell Deaguero.


House District 19: This is a race for an open House seat resulting from the resignation of progressive Democrat Kay Bounkeua. The district covers part of southeast Albuquerque. Three Democratic candidates filed for the primary, with one withdrawing two weeks ago (Eric Sutton). The remaining candidates are Janelle Anyanonu, an office manager and member of the New Mexico Black Central Organizing Committee, and Colton Dean, a member of Indivisible ABQ and a very active Ward chair who is strongly supported by ABQ progressives. Only one Republican has filed for the seat — Kathleen Jackson. Based on strong support from Indivisible members with whom we spoke, we were inclined to endorse Dean. But a review of Janelle Anyanonu’s campaign website reveals a very deep understanding of the issues and strongly progressive positions.

Retake is not taking a position on this race at this time and feels that either Dem would be a formidable candidate in the general election and an excellent Representative. No endorsement in the primary.


House District 26: This is an open seat created by the resignation of 5-term Democrat Georgene Louis. Former Rep. Eleanor Chavez, and Route 66 West Neighborhood Association President Cherise Quezada, who is the wife of Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada, are running for the Democratic nomination. Republican Patrick Sais is also running. Quezada is one of the candidates endorsed by Working Together, the centrist, corporate-funded PAC working to oust incumbent progressives. This house district is decidedly Democrat, with the District having a 63% Democratic voter turnout history, so whoever wins the primary is nearly certain to win in November. Eleanor Chavez is the Executive Director of the NM Hospital Workers Union, vice chair of New Mexicans for Health Security, and a solid progressive who has served in the NM House of Representatives for the 13th district from 2009 to 2012. It would be good to have her return to the House, which would be very likely if she survives the primary. This is a high-priority primary race.

Click here to find out more about Eleanor Chavez and how you can support her campaign.

Retake Endorses Eleanor Chavez.


House District 28: This is another Albuquerque-area seat, and here the battle is not in the primary but in the general election. Democrat and attorney Pamelya Herndon was appointed to fill a vacancy. She is opposed by Republican Nicole Chavez in November. Nicole Chavez’s son was the victim of a high-profile murder some years ago, and she’s running on a stern anti-crime platform, which may be enough to oust Herndon given that Democrat performance in the District is 49.5%. We don’t need another vocal tough-on-crime vote in the House, but our challenge will be in November, as there is no contested primary here. There is great concern that Herndon will be unseated, in part due to a pile of NRA $$ that will support Chavez.

Click here for more information about Rep. Herndon, including how to donate or volunteer.

Retake endorses Pamelya Herndon.


House District 30: This is an Albuquerque NE Heights District. Democrat Representative Natalie Figueroa is running for another term in a District once represented by Republican Rep. Nate Gentry, who served as a Republican House leader. Republican Kurstin Johnson, a realtor and the wife of former Bernalillo County Commissioner Republican Wayne Johnson, is running in the hopes of flipping the district back to the Republican column. We need to hold this seat, and Figueroa has been a solid Rep.

Click here for more information on Rep. Figueroa, her positions, endorsements, and ways to support her campaign.

Retake Endorses Rep. Natalie Figueroa.


House District 38: This is the seat that Republican Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences is vacating to run for governor. This district is one that could impact the race for House Speaker. Longtime Socorro Mayor Ravi Bhasker, who described himself as “kind of a conservative Democrat,” in a Santa Fe New Mexican interview, is endorsed by the centrist, corporate-funded Working Together PAC. He is seeking the nomination against Tara Jaramillo, a Socorro school board member who is a progressive and has strong positions on education, healthcare, housing, and social safety net. Jaramillo has an impressive list of endorsements, that is a mixed bag at best, among elected leaders including:

Elected Leaders

  • U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
  • State Senator Siah Correa Hemphill
  • State Representative Nathan Small
  • Socorro County Commissioner Craig Secatero
  • Socorro City Councilor Michael Olguin, Jr.

Organizations

Organizational endorsements are solid:

  • American Federation of Teachers New Mexico
  • Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico
  • Retake Our Democracy
  • Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club
  • Teamsters Local 492

Redistricting has made the district more Democrat, so this is an opportunity to elect a progressive in Rebecca Dow’s old seat. We don’t want to squander the opportunity and add a conservative voice to the Dem House Caucus.

Click here to find out more about Jaramillo’s positions on issues and ways to contribute or volunteer.

Retake Endorses Tara Jaramillo.


House District 39: This is a Silver City and Las Cruces area district. The seat has been on and off for Democrat Rudy Martinez since 2005, but Republican Representative Luis Terrazas won two years ago and is not opposed in the Republican primary. Martinez faces Karen Whitlock for the Democratic nomination. Redistricting led to the creation of a district with a 44% Republican voter performance, so the winner of the Dem primary could oust the incumbent in November.

We were told by constituents that neither Democrat is a strong progressive, but either would be leagues better than the Republican. Both candidates have meaningful endorsements, with Whitlock endorsed by Planned Parenthood, American Federation of Teachers, and Mothers Demand Action. Oddly, Martinez’s campaign website lists only endorsements from his failed 2020 campaign. While it is an impressive list of endorsers, it is for a different campaign and some of the organizations listed are, in fact, endorsing Whitlock. The scales tip slightly to Karen Whitlock, as she is a retired social worker, and the Roundhouse would benefit from a legislator with that background and experience. Luis Terrazas, the Republican, is a right-wing zealot who needs to be defeated.

To find out more about Karen Whitlock And to find out more about how you can volunteer for Whitlock’s campaign, click here.

Retake Endorses Karen Whitlock.


House District 40: This is a huge district with rural, mountain, frontier, and tribal communities. Roger Montoya is one of the legislators with the most principled progressive values and he is opposed in the primary by a formidable, conservative Dem., Joseph Sanchez, who has stated that he is a Gas & Oil candidate. He is also supported by Working Together, the centrist, corporate-funded PAC, and he is now receiving funding from Rep. Patty Lundstrom.

We have been consistently impressed with Rep. Montoya’s principled stands and independent thinking. Montoya is not afraid to engage Republicans in seeking to find common ground, particularly in relation to rural issues. He is also not afraid to take a tough vote — he essentially killed the Clean Fuels Act, a very popular bill with environmental groups that was badly marred by a last-minute, PNM-developed amendment that would have allowed PNM to add any energy resource it wanted to its portfolio without seeking PRC approval. The last-minute, industry-generated amendment undermined an otherwise important effort to establish fuel standards in NM. These kinds of amendments are how industry can get its way, and in this case, the amendment didn’t dissuade leadership from strongly pressing for legislator votes. It almost worked, but Montoya sent the bill down by one vote, his. We need more independent voices in the legislature, and so we strongly support Roger Montoya.

Click here to find out more about Rep. Montoya, including how to volunteer or donate, click here.

Click here to view Retake’s YouTube interview with Rep. Roger Montoya

Retake Endorses Roger Montoya.


House District 41: This is a northern NM House district that includes parts of Rio Arriba County. Representative Susan Herrera is seeking another term. She is being targeted in the primary because she was the sponsor and shepherd of HB 132, the payday loan bill that lowered small loan interest rates to 36%, a very heavy lift. She is opposed by moderate Democrat and former Probate Judge Marlo Martinez. No Republican is running. Herrera deserves another term for her solid work on a range of issues, not the least of which was her leading the effort to reduce predatory lending rates to 36%.

To find out more about Rep. Herrera’s positions on issues and to donate or volunteer, click here.

Click here to view Retake’s Youtube interview with Rep. Susan Herrera.

Retake Endorses Rep. Susan Herrera.


House District 42: This is a Taos area seat. Progressive first-term Representative Kristina Ortez is being challenged by moderate Democrat Florence Miera. No Republican is running. Ortez has been a reliable advocate on water and climate issues, enjoys strong support from progressive groups in Taos, and deserves another term. She introduced and worked to pass HB 37, the Community Energy Efficiency Development Block Grant initiative, a groundbreaking bill that will make funding available in rural communities to invest in energy efficiency improvements in low-income homes. A great bill, and Ortez demonstrated skilled legislative stewardship to get it through.

Click to view Retake’s YouTube interview with Rep. Kristina Ortez.

Click here to get more info on Rep. Ortez.

Retake Endorses Kristina Ortez.


House District 46: Two-term progressive Democrat Representative Andrea Romero has drawn 3 democratic primary challengers, and one Republican is also running. Romero has been a solid progressive representative and has demonstrated leadership in advocating for investing in affordable housing and water management and planning. Romero is endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, and Moms Demand Action. Democrat Henry Roybal is a well-known conservative Dem, a Santa Fe County Commissioner. Roybal is a formidable opponent and is endorsed by the corporate-funded, centrist PAC, Working Together, which will, no doubt, publish mailers and billboards attacking Romero. This is a race where Romero will need help with canvassing, calls, texts, and $$. The district is heavily Democrat, so the primary winner is almost assured of being elected to the House.

Click here to find out more about Romero, including how to contribute or volunteer.

Click here to view Retake’s YouTube interview with Rep. Andrea Romero.

Retake Endorses Rep. Andrea Romero.


House District 47: This is the Santa Fe area house seat being vacated by Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, who has endorsed his top aide, Reena Szczepanski, to succeed him. As Egolf’s chief of staff for six years, Szczepanski knows the Roundhouse inside and out, knows the issues and the processes and she knows how to get things done. She has a deep commitment to behavioral health and is a long-standing advocate for legalized cannabis. Moderate Democrat Francisco Lopez is also running, and no Republicans are running. With an endorsement and $$ from Speaker Egolf, Szczepanski should easily take this seat. And there are questions as to whether Lopez has collected enough signatures to be on the ballot.

To find out more about Reena Szczepanski or to find out how to volunteer or donate to her campaign, click here.

Click here to view the YouTube recording of Retake’s interview with Reena Szczepanski, candidate for Rep in Dist 47

Retake Endorses Reena Szczepanski.


House District 70. This is a sprawling district that captures part of  San Miguel, Santa Fe & Torrance counties. covering parts of southwest Santa Fe and to the north to Las Vegas.It extends south to Moriarty and Estancia. Conservative Freshman Democrat Representative Ambrose Castellano is being challenged by Progressive Democrat Anita Amalia Gonzales who is endorsed by the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, American Federation of Teachers, and Teamsters Chapter 492. Gonzales has worked at New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (NM MESA), Inc. for over 19 years and is the current Deputy Director. NM MESA is a statewide pre-college program that empowers and motivates New Mexico’s culturally diverse students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) enrichment. We appreciate that Gonzales has a strong STEM background and has applied that background to benefit students of color.

Castellano votes as often with the GOP as with the Dems, famously being the only Dem to vote no on HB 132 (predatory lending bill) on the House floor.

This is a repeat of the 2020 primary, where Gonzales narrowly lost the Democratic nomination to Castellano. This race could be critical in the process of selecting a new House Speaker. No Republicans have filed in the heavily Democratic district.

Click here to get more info on Gonzales and how to donate and/or volunteer for Gonzales’ campaign.

Retake Endorses Anita Gonzales.


Constitutional Amendment: Early Childhood Education Annual Permanent Fund Distribution

The measure would allocate 1.25% of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education (60% of the allocation) and public education (40% of the allocation). The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) estimated that the additional allocation would be about $245.7 million in fiscal year 2023. Of that total, $126.9 million would be allocated for early childhood education, $84.6 million to public education, and $34.2 million for the LGPF’s other beneficiaries.

Without question, this is the easiest recommendation we are making — an enthusiastic YES! Investment in early childhood education is the best investment NM can make in its future, as piles of studies have found that quality early childhood education contributes to long-term school success and even longer term economic success. Vote Yes! It is important to ensure a reliable flow of revenue to these programs, regardless of who is in power, as even when the Dems have been in control of the legislature it has not been easy to pass funding increases for early childhood.

Retake Recommends a YES vote on this constitutional amendment.


Bernalillo County Commissioner Races

The Bernco Commission is 4-1 Dems, and only one incumbent is a solidly progressive Dem: 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. To achieve a solid majority, we must also flip the seat in Dist. 5. 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. The Commission will continue to be responsible for determining the fate of the horribly misguided Santolina Development, and without winning both these races 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 as importantly, a reliable 3-2 progressive vote would allow the Commission to protect of our environment and our workers, and support other issues important to Bernco residents.

Bernalillo County Commission District 1

Erin Muffoletto is facing off with Barbara Baca in the Dem. primary. Muffoletto is a long-time lobbyist for the Chamber of Commerce and is backed by Working Together, the newly formed, corporate-funded, centrist PAC. Baca, on the other hand, 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.

While Muffoletto is endorsed by the Working Together PAC, Barbara Baca has been endorsed by a long list of leaders, organizations, and community advocates, including Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who is retiring, and who Baca would then replace, preserving one of the two solid progressive votes on the Commission. Baca’s endorsers:

Elected Leaders

  • U.S Representative Melanie Stansbury
  • Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller
  • Bernalillo County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley
  • State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino
  • State Senator Katy Duhigg
  • State Senator Linda Lopez
  • State Senator Harold Pope, Jr.
  • State Representative Patricia Roybal Caballero
  • State Representative Joy Garratt
  • State Representative Miguel Garcia
  • City Councilor Isaac Benton
  • City Councilor Pat Davis
  • Middle Rio Grande Conservancy Board Member Karen Dunning
  • Middle Rio Grande Conservancy Board Member John Kelly
  • Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish
  • Former State Senator Dede Feldman
  • Former State Senator Eric Griego
  • Former Member of APS Board of Education Candelaria Candy Patterson

Organizations

  • Central New Mexico Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO
  • New Mexico Building Trades & Construction
  • Retake Our Democracy
  • Rio Grande Chapter of the Sierra Club
  • Southwest Regional Council of Carpenters, LU 1319
  • Teamsters Local 492


Neighborhood and Community Leaders

  • Clara Apodaca
  • Robert Baade
  • Bradley Bingham
  • Lance Chilton
  • Ellen Coplen
  • Joseph Cristo
  • Herb and Diane Denish
  • Marsella Duarte
  • Gloria Doherty
  • Joshua Doherty
  • Elaine Faust
  • Lee Gamelsky
  • John Garcia
  • Jennifer Girod 
  • Jim Graf
  • Bruce Hicks
  • Renee Horvath
  • Susan Kelly
  • Anna Lamberson
  • Briana and Roger Lucero
  • Yolanda Luciani Garcia
  • Bob McNeill
  • Richard Meadows
  • Stephen J. Miller 
  • Fred Mondragon
  • Wendy Parker-Wood
  • Lita and Joe Pino
  • J. Brent Ricks
  • Ambassador Ed Romero
  • Joe Sabatini
  • Mario Semiglia
  • Dave Simon
  • Diane Souder
  • Terri Storch
  • Barbara Taylor
  • Linda Thorne
  • Lanny Tonning
  • Juan Vigil

Click here for more info on Baca and how to support her campaign.

Retake endorses Barbara Baca for Bernco Commission District 1.


Bernalillo County Commission District 5

District 5 offers a choice between the incumbent DINO, Charlene Psykoty, and a solid progressive Democrat, Eric Olivas. Psykoty has voted to allow a rezoning of the Santolina project, essentially giving it new life, and she has aligned with the Chamber of Commerce to vote to water down an ordinance to offer strong labor protections in county contracts.

On the other hand, 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. My opponent watered down project labor provisions in the current ordinance that would have required major county contractors to pay decent wages and benefits.”

Olivas for Bernco

In our interview with Eric 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.

Psykoty ignored constituent concerns and voted to advance Santolina, while Eric Olivas is an outspoken opponent of the development. In short, while Psykoty’s past votes show that her allegiance is not with the people, workers, or the planet, but with developers and big business. Olivas pledges an entirely different set of priorities.

Click here to find out more about Eric Olivas and how you can support his campaign.

Retake Endorses Eric Olivas for Bernco Commission District 5.


Santa Fe County Commission

District 7. This race finds a solid progressive candidate challenging two badly flawed candidates.

First, Justin Greene, the progressive candidate. I spoke at length with Greene and was impressed with his grasp of the issues and his principled positions. He has developed separate pages ion his website to house his positions on each of six important issues; Housing; Economic Development; Public Safety; and Environment, Broadband and Good Governance

Even a cursory review of these pageses will leave you impressed and cause you to realize what a thoughtful commissioner Greene would be. Thoughtfulness would not be the description that would come to mind in relation to either of Greene’s opponents. I’m not making any of this up.

Jon Paul Romero admits to stealing a 4-foot-long bronze sculpture of an iguana from Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino in 2013. In an article by Milan Simonich, Romero commented: “It was a dumb prank. It was wrong for me to do it,” Romero said Tuesday in an interview. “I had been drinking, and someone dared me to do it. I have grown since that mistake.” When asked if he drove home with the Iguana, he indicated that he had, causing Simonich to note that perhaps he had more growing up to do.

Romero has also been arrested for drunk driving six times, but with only two convictions. Still, not the resume you want from a candidate.

Orlando A. Romero (no relation), is retired after careers in the public and private sectors. Romero most recently worked as an aide to Henry Roybal for five years. He also was the first chief of staff of the state Public Regulation Commission. He lasted in that position just four months before being fired.

In 2002, Orlando Romero was arrested and charged with aggravated drunken driving and reckless driving. The charges were dismissed in 2004 on grounds that he did not receive a speedy trial.

In any case, we are more concerned with Orlando Romero’s five years as chief of staff for the decidedly moderate-conservative Henry Roybal. And we’ve been very impressed with Greene’s positions and priorities.

Click here, to find out more about Justine Greene and how to support his campaign,

Retake endorses Justin Greene for Santa Fe County Commission.

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