Commentary: New Mexico has not escaped the disastrous impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. To date, we’ve had nearly 5,000 cases and 200 deaths. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham didn’t wait on guidance from the White House that never came. She proactively halted most of our economy in an effort to save lives. Reopening New Mexico is in its early stages. The carefully considered economic shutdown starkly revealed the inequalities that were already threatening to crush our neighbors living on low incomes. More than 125,000 New Mexicans have filed for unemployment benefits since the pandemic began.
Making matters worse, the fall in oil prices has left cities and the state short on revenue needed for critical services that keep many of our neighbors afloat.
The pandemic, and past political decisions of legislators that put profits and corporations ahead of working families, have brought us to a crossroad. To continue down the road of business-as-usual in these extraordinary circumstances is to condemn New Mexico and New Mexicans to crippling uncertainty and inequality. This cannot be fixed with corporate tax cuts in exchange for empty promises of job creation down the line. The type of intervention we need to dig our way out of this pandemic is of the government variety, by way of New Mexico’s voters.
On the ballot in June is a choice between longtime Democratic State Senate incumbents who have consistently aligned themselves with corporate interests, and a slate of Democratic challengers who have been unapologetic about running campaigns that are centered around working families. These challengers, all of whom are women with incredible leadership experience and deep roots in their respective communities, have forward-thinking visions for leading New Mexico during these unprecedented times.
Here in Southern New Mexico, the challengers include Carrie Hamblen from Las Cruces, Siah Correa Hemphill from Silver City, and Neomi Martinez-Parra from Lordsburg. Hamblen is challenging State Senator Mary Kay Papen, Correa Hemphill is taking on State Senator Gabriel Ramos, and Martinez-Parra is taking on State Senator John Arthur Smith.
Recent history has demonstrated that we cannot cut our way back to solvency by divesting in the people with the most need. Investment in working families and children will help New Mexico recover as quickly and sustainably as possible. But when given the chance to support such critical investments, Papen, Ramos, and Smith have failed to do so. They have consistently opposed using a small fraction of New Mexico’s $18 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund to expand health care, education, and other services that will help steer New Mexico out of this pandemic and economic challenge.
The fiscal conservatism of Papen, Ramos, and Smith, where corporations win and working families lose, has failed the majority of New Mexicans. We have an opportunity this year to usher in a more realistic, effective, and forward-thinking New Mexico that works for all of us.
You, the voter, have the power to determine the course of our State. That power will arrive straight to your mailbox if you request an absentee ballot today. Voting in our June 2 primary has never been easier and exercising your rights doesn’t have to come at a risk to your safety. We recommend requesting an absentee ballot from our Secretary of State (sos.state.nm.us) on or before the May 28 deadline, voting in favor of one of the Democratic challengers for the State Senate, and returning the ballot before Primary Day June 2nd. Together, we can send new leaders from Southern New Mexico to the State Senate.