General Election is Nov. 3rd
DEMING – Two individuals familiar with one another are seeking your vote for the District 32 (Luna, most of Hidalgo and a precinct of Grant counties) seat as your state representative in the upcoming November 3rd General Election.
Incumbent Candie Sweetser (D-Deming) won the seat in 2016 and is planning for a second term in Santa Fe.
Scott Chandler (R-Deming) lost a close race in 2016 to Vicki Chavez during the Primary Election.
Chandler has hit the campaign trail hard in Luna County on a ticket of turning New Mexico “Red” by filling Republican seats in the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.
Who has a plan?
As member of the House Appropriations and Legislative Finance Interim committees, Sweetser has been deeply involved with the state’s budget during the New Mexico Legislative Special Session.
“We had decent money, good reserves, and were in really good shape when we left there in mid-February, and then two weeks later, we are starting to see the affects of the pandemic,” Sweetser said. “…Three weeks later, the world shut down.”
Sweetser returned to Santa Fe in special session to continue work on the reserves available to the budget. “Because we had really good reserves we didn’t have to make as deep of cuts as people may have feared,” Sweetser said. “I really want to give credit to Sen. John Arthur Smith for watching over that budget process.”
Chandler’s bid as a candidate came from what he has seen over the past two years. “This really wasn’t on the radar for me, but when I saw what was happening in our legislature – and in a big way – the progressive side in our state is affecting rural lifestyles as we know it,” Chandler stated.
By tossing his hat into the ring Chandler is hoping the Republican Party can take back the state and change what he sees as an extreme liberal pattern of decision-making in Santa Fe.
“I want more conservative values to lead this state,” Chandler said.
Oil & gas, and tourism
With the oil and gas industry and tourism taking a hit, Sweetser is happy to report both have rebounded a little – enough to avoid the deep cuts prognosticators anticipated. “My concern is next year’s budget without Sen. Smith shepherding that budget for reserves,” Sweetser said. “I Will be a strong advocate for keeping those reserves up.”
Rooted in Luna County farming, she views the committee work as hugely important. “Water is life in New Mexico, and we have so many lawsuits and pending lawsuits facing the water issues in our state because of our debts to Texas and concerns with Arizona and the Colorado River coming down, along with our drought conditions,” Sweetser explained. “Water is hugely important to my district.”
Chandler sees a different direction for both these industries as they pertain to Luna County. “Pro-rural communities need oil and gas and tourism to flourish but they are over-regulated with agendas out there that are suppressing us rather than helping us come up,” he said.
Jobs and water
Sweetser views economic development and employment as the most important issues facing the tri-county area. She is the vice-chair of the House Agriculture and Water Committee in Santa Fe and on the interim, she is also a member of the House Natural Resources and Water Committee – the two committees work hand-in-hand.
“The water issue is a close second because we have a lot of farmers that may be looking at hard times ahead with the water tables dropping and other issues,” she said.
“We have high levels of unemployment. We do have issues where people are making more on unemployment benefits,” Sweetser said. COVID-19 has also impacted the workforce in the tri-county area,” Sweetser added.
Chandler is rooted in ranching and has taken his campaign on the road with a series of Republican Party rolling rallies. His platform covers Second Amendment rights, economic development, jobs and agriculture.
“There has been a massive shift in the values of our state regarding these issues and I have a sense of urgency to bring our values back to the rural communities that depend on jobs, agriculture, water and the peace-of-mind regarding their Constitutional rights,” Chandler stated.
Education in New Mexico is a frustrating process in Santa Fe, according to Sweetser. “COVID has turned everything on its head. The Governor and PED (Public Education Department) Secretary had a lot of things they thought would be effective in raising the overall base scores in the state, and Deming was one of their star communities because they did K-5 Plus, and they did extended learning. COVID has put everything in turmoil.”
Chandler wants to see local school boards govern themselves. “I would love to see more power put back into the local school boards when it comes to public education in our state,” he said. “I think that over time, we have eroded that, and I think the closer we can get that back to the local school boards. Local communities know what is best for that community.
“That’s why you elect people at that level – to make decisions for what’s important for the schools, instead of having a state power making decisions for communities.”
Chandler sees securing the border in New Mexico is key for rural communities. “Deming and Luna County had challenges in 2019 with the influx of migrants that came across the border. I thought they handled it well. The only thing I would have done differently was to turn the spigot off.
Chandler used his influence as a board member for the nonprofit Adelante and helped secure $10,000 in a short time to aid the migrant shelters.
Trade issues are a big concern across the border. Chandler would like to see a level playing field when it comes to beef, and hay crossing the border and being packaged over New Mexico’s beef and hay. “This undermines our local agriculture industry,” he said.
Sweetser has a theory on the border. “I think Washington DC and Mexico City have no idea how the border operates,” Sweetser explained. “But for someone who has lived near the border for 30 years, I can see we have a wonderful relationship with people across the border. It has changed – gotten tense at times – but our communities co-exist, and I try and tell people that when I am in Santa Fe. If you let the border work on border issues, we would probably be fine.”
The General Election is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 3rd, 2020. Early voting is underway, and you can call the Luna County Clerk’s Office (575-546-0494) for times and days. The polls on Nov. 3rd will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at three Voter Convenience Center locations:
• Holy Family Parish Center (615 S. Copper St.)
• Mimbres Valley Learning Center (2300 E. Pine St.)
• Columbus Village Library (122 W. Broadway Ave. in Columbus, NM)
Bill Armendariz can be reached at 575-546-2611 (ext. 2606) or firstname.lastname@example.org.