My Turn

Opinion: Celebrating small victories, finding solutions together

By Kristina Ortez
Posted 5/28/20

These days, I find myself celebrating small victories.We finished our schoolwork. We went for a walk. I talked with an old friend on the phone. In these unsettled times, I take …

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My Turn

Opinion: Celebrating small victories, finding solutions together

Posted

These days, I find myself celebrating small victories.

We finished our schoolwork. We went for a walk. I talked with an old friend on the phone. In these unsettled times, I take comfort in my daughters, my friends, my neighbors. I gain strength from these relationships and simple acts at home as I prepare to meet the many challenges ahead.

We vote to elect leaders who can rise to challenges, and whom we trust to work collaboratively to find solutions that serve us all. My name is Kristina Ortez, and I believe that I am that leader for District 42 of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

I moved to Taos 10 years ago, drawn by the land, water and light that has sustained this community for millennia. My daughters attend Anansi Charter School. A proud Lobo, I received my masters in public administration at University of New Mexico, mostly attending classes through UNM-Taos.

For the last six years, I have been the executive director of the Taos Land Trust. I am rooted here, and I am passionate about serving Northern New Mexico.

Taos, I know that you want a representative who shares your values and who will be your unwavering voice in the Roundhouse. I am prepared to fight for you. My early life experiences and deep work in the Taos community have formed my strong convictions about the importance of our agricultural and land-based traditions. My family worked in the fields in California, picking grapes, stone fruit and other crops. They showed me the value of education, and always pushed me to think critically, work hard and take others along with me as I rose.

This year, I would have attended my 25th college reunion at Harvard University. Instead, I will celebrate that achievement at home, reflecting on the family members, teachers and friends who helped me get there, the first woman in the history of my high school to attend Harvard.

I succeeded because of the amazing educators in my life: the teachers, bus drivers, custodial workers, librarians, counselors and cafeteria workers. As any now-homeschooling parent can attest, these folks work hard to provide our children with the tools and skills to thrive in our complex world. I will fight to ensure that our educators are paid a fair wage and do not lose the gains they've made.

My daughters started their education at UNM's Kid Campus. We know that early childhood education, home visiting programs and support for parents and caregivers pave the way for a brighter future for our families and our children. That's why I will continue to fight for more funding for early childhood education, including the use of the Permanent Land Grant Fund. Because of this commitment, I was recently endorsed by both the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and the National Education Association New Mexico.

For nearly two decades I have worked hard in coalition with others to protect our land and water all around the west. As an advocate, I have worked on legislation with our federal and state delegation to protect our public lands, safeguard our clean water and restore our working lands.

As the executive director at the Taos Land Trust, I manage staff, develop budgets and set our strategic direction based on community input. I focus on developing partnerships, such as the Río Fernando de Taos Revitalization Collaborative, to achieve positive change for our community. I believe we must commit to climate resiliency, reduce our dependence on oil and gas and invest in our renewable energy future. For this reason, the Sierra Club and Conservation Voters New Mexico recently endorsed my campaign.

Here in Taos and around the globe, COVID-19 has had an impact on virtually every part of our lives. We must each play a part in the response and, just as importantly, our recovery. My experience in managing an organization, designing budgets, raising money and leveraging state and federal resources places me in a strong position to work with community leaders on our recovery plan.

Many of you are my friends, colleagues and neighbors. Many more of you I have yet to meet; I look forward to it. I have sought to introduce myself to you here.

At this time of uncertainty, one thing is clear: we are all in this together. I want to work with you to create a stronger, safer and more resilient Taos. I ask for your support on June 2.

Kristina Ortez is a candidate for New Mexico representative, District 42.

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