These women rule

New Mexico voters put more women into power

Story By Cody Hooks
chooks@taosnews.com

Illustration By Daniel Hayes
Posted 11/28/18

Here's a look at some of the women who are about to take on some important government jobs in New Mexico.

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These women rule

New Mexico voters put more women into power

Posted

This story was produced for The Taos News' "Kids" section. For the full section, including student opinions and a coloring sheet for the holidays, pick up a copy of the Nov. 29 edition of The Taos News. 

The 2018 general election, the big one that happened at the beginning of November, was important in lots of ways, including the historic number of women running for office. After all the votes were counted, female candidates clearly had a winning streak.

Let's take the U.S. House of Representatives as an example.

The house has 435 members from across the United States. In all, 102 women were victorious in their bids to serve in Congress.

Some of the high-profile winners are Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who at 28 years old is the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Similarly, there's Xochitl Torres Small of Las Cruces here in New Mexico, who at 33 years old ran for office and won.

Why does this matter? As the nation charts its future through climate change, global politics and issues, such as immigration, reproductive justice and gun violence, we need more voices at the table from more types of people.

The successful races of candidates like Torres Small show that wave of political excitement that some people called the "Year of the Woman" washed over New Mexico, too.

Here's a look at some of the women who are about to take on some important jobs.

Michelle Lujan Grisham

New Mexico Governor

The fourth floor of the Roundhouse, the New Mexico capitol in Santa Fe, is a powerful place. It's where the governor of the state goes to work each day. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democratic congresswoman from the Albuquerque area, will be heading up to the fourth floor after she's sworn into office in January.

Lujan Grisham is New Mexican through and through. She was born in Los Alamos, raised in Santa Fe and went to Albuquerque to the University of New Mexico for undergraduate and law school. When Lujan Grisham announced on YouTube she was running to be the next governor of New Mexico, she already had a big political profile as one of the state's three members of Congress.

Lujan Grisham "was married to her college sweetheart, Greg, for 21 years before his sudden passing in 2004, leaving Michelle as a newly single mother of two teenage girls, Taylor and Erin," says her Facebook page. Her dog's name is Kiwi.

Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, faced off against Republican Steve Pearce in the general election. She won with 57 percent of the vote. Lujan Grisham will take office in January, replacing Susana Martinez as governor.

Say 'Hey!'

Lujan Grisham has a Facebook page, "Michelle Lujan Grisham," a Twitter account, @Michelle4NM and a website, newmexicansformichelle.com. And for the next few weeks, she still has her congressional website, lujangrisham.house.gov.

Deb Haaland

U.S. House of Representatives, District 1

"Congress has never heard a voice like mine," said Representative-elect Deb Haaland.

No Native American woman had ever been elected to Congress until Nov. 6, when Haaland became one of two Indigenous women to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Though her story is rich and long, Haaland's Twitter profile sums it up: "Congresswoman-Elect for NM CD1. Former Dem Party Chair. Proud UNM Lobo mom. Pueblo woman. Marathon runner. Gourmet cook."

Haaland is a member of Laguna Pueblo. She led the state's Democratic Party and ran for lieutenant governor of New Mexico in 2014.

She's been busy since the election.

"Representation matters. In Congress, in the media, everywhere. Proud to bring issues like climate change, missing and murdered Indigenous women, and family separation to (light). Now, time for a nap on the flight home," Haaland tweeted last week.

Say 'Hey!'

You can send Haaland a message through her Facebook page, "Deb Haaland for Congress." You can also send an email through her campaign website, debforcongress.com, or tweet to her @Deb4CongressNM.

Xochitl Torres Small

U.S. House of Representatives, District 2

Xochitl Torres Small pulled off something remarkable. At only 33 years old, she won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. When a new Congress is sworn in next year, she'll represent about 700,000 people across Southern New Mexico.

Torres Small is a water attorney in Las Cruces. She went to college at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and then got a law degree in Albuquerque at the University of New Mexico School of Law.

Torres Small's race was like many in the 2018 general election, where the votes weren't fully counted and the winner named until days after the election. Torres Small, a Democrat, ran against Yvette Herrell, a Republican member of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

As the votes came in on Election Day, it seemed Harrell was the winner. But the nail-biter election didn't end there. A few thousand votes had not yet been counted in Doña Ana County. When they were, Torres Small came out on top.

Say 'Hey!'

You can send Xochitl a message on Twitter; her handle is @XochforCongress. You can also send an email to Info@XochforCongress.com.]

Jacqueline Medina

New Mexico Court of Appeals, Position 2

Like a lot of you, Jacqueline Medina was born and raised in Taos. We asked her what Taos was like back then, and she said it was "a beautiful, diverse, outdoor wonderland."

Medina remembers being scared as a kid because there "was a time when I was terrified of a bully on the bus ride home." That bully grew up (and hopefully grew out of their bad behavior), but Medina is still worried about bullies, but on a bigger scale. "Now, I am most concerned with the rising tide of intolerance," Medina told The Taos News.

Medina was one of four women to win a spot on the New Mexico Court of Appeals, the second highest court in the state (right after the New Mexico Supreme Court). Those four wins give women a supermajority -- 8 out of 10 seats -- on the court.

It turns out the Ranchitos neighborhood where Media grew up is the childhood home of a few other successful female candidates, Medina told The Taos News. Denise Romero won the election to become the first female sheriff in Valencia County while Christine Trujillo kept her seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Say 'Hey!'

You'll have to go old-school to get in touch with Medina. You can give her a call at the New Mexico Court of Appeals at (505) 841-4618.

Candyce O'Donnell

Taos County Board of Commissioner, District 5

You may have heard of Candyce O'Donnell before. She's a longtime resident of Taos and had already been in office for four years before winning her re-election.

The Taos News asked her about being a kid. When O'Donnell was growing up, she was most scared of ghosts, she said.

A lot has changed in her life, and the world, and her biggest fear is something that's becoming more destructive each year. "Today, (it's) the economic, displacement and environmental consequences of global climate change for current and future generations."

Unlike the other politicians in this story, O'Donnell faced no challenger in the general election. However, the primary election in June came down to a razor-thin margin. O'Donnell won against two challengers, leading by only 25 votes. O'Donnell is the only woman on the Taos County Board of Commissioners.

Among the things she said she could do to help kids during her next term is help "expand the services for children whose parents have been arrested and detained in the Taos County Adult Detention Center."

Say 'Hey!'

You can talk with O'Donnell on Facebook through her page, "Taos County Commissioner District V Candyce O'Donnell," send an email to candyce.odonnell@taoscounty.org, or write an old-fashioned letter (Don't forget the stamp.) to Candyce O'Donnell, 105 Albright St., Taos, New Mexico 87571. 

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Say 'Hey!'

These elected officials are in the middle of what politicos call "the transition," from the campaign staff to a team that's ready when everyone's sworn into office. They'll have new email addresses and websites by January, so be sure to double check their contact information in the new year.

Did you know?

You can vote in the primary election if you're 17 years old but will be 18 by the general election. Primary elections decide which candidate will run for each office in each party. Voting in the primary will be an option for a lot of high school students in 2020 when the next presidential election happens. If you're 12 right now and your birthday is on or before Nov. 5, you can vote in the 2024 election and primary. Put that on your calendar.

Who voted?

It wasn't until 1971 that 18-year-olds got the right to vote. Historical patterns tell us that young people don't vote in the numbers their parents and grandparents do, even though they have as much, if not more, at stake. In Taos County, only a few young folks turned out to cast their ballot. Out of about 14,500 voters overall, only 129 of them were between the ages of 18-20.

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