Election 2020: Our Recommendations

Morgan Timms/Taos News

Kathleen Garcia casts an early ballot May 12 during the primaries at the Taos County Administration Building. Early voting for the general election opened at the Taos County courthouse Oct. 6 and more sites will open Oct. 17 in Taos County. Oct. 20 is the last day to request an absentee ballot.

Voters have until 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 to cast ballots in the 2020 general election.

Most of the Taos County races are uncontested. For political candidates in contested races, Taos News recommends voting Democrat down the ballot:

President: Joe Biden. He has the experience, temperament and skills to heal our deeply divided nation while tackling thorny issues from climate change to the economy.

U.S. Senate for New Mexico: Ben Ray Luján. The fourth-ranking member of the House of Representatives wants to trade his clout in the House to become a U.S. senator. He deserves the promotion -- Democrats need a Senate majority to clean up after the Trump years -- but also because he works hard, understands New Mexico, will work on climate change, support rural residents and protect public lands and the environment.

U.S. House, District 3: Teresa Leger Fernandez. An attorney and Las Vegas, New Mexico, native, Leger Fernandez has granular knowledge of the biggest issues facing the state. She's an idea generator.

N.M. Senate, District 8: Phil Campos. He's skilled at the political machinations in the Roundhouse and advocates for small businesses.

N.M. House, District 42: No recommendation. Both candidates are highly qualified in different ways. Democrat Kristina Ortez holds with progressive views. As executive director of Taos Land Trust and a staunch conservationist, Ortez is adept at building coalitions and will work to rebuild a local agriculture hub and help the region prepare for the immense challenges of climate change. Republican Linda Calhoun has a long history in the region and has worked across the aisle on many capital outlay projects as mayor of Red River. She's a business woman and has served on several state commissions and committees, including two appointed by Democrat governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.

They both are early education advocates and both believe the economy needs to be diversified. They diverge on sensitive issues such as abortion and firearms regulations. Either would be a fine choice to represent the region.

Public Regulation Commission: Joseph Maestas. He is among the few candidates over the years who has the background and experience to understand utility rate cases. He's a civil engineer who spent years working with federal regulations and with the cities of Española and Santa Fe in elected office.

New Mexico Supreme Court: Both Shannon Bacon and David K. Thomson are Democrats currently serving on the Supreme Court -- after being appointed, judges in New Mexico must run for the seat, as they are doing.

Bacon brings considerable judicial experience to the seat, including being the presiding civil court judge in the 2nd Judicial District Court. Thomson also served in the 1st Judicial District as a judge, and both have been screened by the nonpartisan Judicial Nominating Commission.

For the Supreme Court, Taos News recommends Shannon Bacon and David K. Thomson.

New Mexico Court of Appeals: Three positions are open on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, with three appointed judges running to keep their seats. The judges have demonstrated an ability to get the appeals court workload under control, delivering justice in a more timely fashion. All are Democrats.

For Position 1: Zack Ives; Position 2: Shammara H. Henderson; Position 3: Jane B. Yohalem.

On the ballot for retention is Court of Appeals Judge Jacqueline Medina. The Taos native deserves to keep her seat. Vote for retaining Jacqueline Medina.

Hospital mill levy: Holy Cross Medical Center, its staff and its administration, deserve a lot of praise for how they've handled the pandemic not to mention the day-to-day challenges of running a rural hospital. The mill levy will provide needed financial support for the hospital's future and the more than 300 people from the community who work there. Holy Cross is a critical facility, one the region cannot do without. Vote yes on the mill levy.

Constitutional amendments

Amendment 1 reduces the number of Public Regulation commissioners from five to three, extends terms to six years, and makes commissioners governor appointees instead of elected officials. The PRC is one of the most powerful elected bodies in the state, overseeing utility rates and transportation. But often the people elected have lacked the background and experience to deal with the complexities of utility rates and policies. A bipartisan committee will recommend candidates for the commission under this amendment. This will work as long as the governor in power cares more about the best people for the job and doesn't just play party politics with appointments. Recommendation: Vote yes.

Amendment 2 would amend the Constitution to allow the Legislature to adjust the term of state, county or district officers and stagger the election of officers. The amendment applies to positions such as district court judges and county commissioners. It also clarifies that officers elected to fill a vacancy will take office on the first day of January after their election. The amendment would not affect the terms or election of statewide officeholders (such as secretary of state or governor). Recommendation: Vote yes.

General Obligation Bond questions

Three general obligation bonds are on the ballot.

Bond A - Raises funds for senior centers, including $220,000 for centers in Taos County.

Bond B - Raises funds for public libraries. The bond would provide $135,546 for libraries in Taos County.

Bond C - Raises funds for higher education. The bond would provide $2 million to help pay for security cameras, lighting and parking lot improvements among other projects for University of New Mexico-Taos.

The bonds issued are paid through a mill levy on property taxes. Passing the three bonds would keep the mill levy at its current 1.36 mills, the same rate as in 2018 and 2019. The state estimates the three issues would cost a total of $10.99 per $100,000 of assessed value over a 10-year period.

Helping senior centers, public libraries and higher education are all good uses of the funds.

Vote yes on all three bond questions.

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