Politics passing through
Lieutenant governor listens in Socorro
Lt. Gov. John Sanchez visited Socorro Thursday as part of a series of statewide mobile office days.
“We are bringing state government to small communities,” Sanchez said. “It’s part of my role as ombudsman for the citizens.”
He said part of his job is to help the public navigate through state government.
So far he has been to five communities in the state on this journey and, he said, people are very concerned about the state of the economy.
“They want to know will they or their children have jobs in the future,” he said. “How do we put our locals to work?”
Other issues he said people are concerned about include education and small businesses.
He talked about education reform and ending social promotion, requiring children who can’t read to stay in third grade without advancing through the school systems.
“Upcoming elections in the fall will have a big effect,” Sanchez said. “I think the public realizes elections have consequences.”
Sanchez said constituents are making suggestions for laws to be discussed at the upcoming Legislative session starting in January. Small businesses are talking about updating the tax codes and people are calling for education reform.
“I am buttressing up what she (Gov. Susanna Martinez) is hearing,” he said.
The goal of the tour is listening, formulating, creating a list of priorities which he will pass to agencies and present as feedback to the governor, Sanchez said.
Meeting with Socorro Residents at City Hall, Sanchez said the governor’s office is looking at capital outlay funds and are waiting to see if those funds can be made available again.
People in the room shared their concerns about a variety of issues, starting with negative advertising, and moving to the high cost of a college education and low paying jobs for graduating students.
“Policies on the federal level are really doing damage,” Sanchez said.
County Manager Delilah Walsh talked to Sanchez about the problem of full jails in the state.
“Incarceration is not the answer,” she said. “We are told to lock them up but our money is paying for it. We didn’t get paid for it. Now we have to go to our voters for a bond issue.”
She said the money for resources is not available but resources need to be applied to prevention, not to locking people up. Forty percent of the people in jail have mental health issues.
“They’re never going to get better sitting there,” she said. “The answer is not to just keep them incarcerated there.”
Sanchez agreed with Walsh’s concerns, adding the people in jail also equal a loss in productivity and add to the feeling of hopelessness in today’s economy.
Walsh said the county has already sued the state on the issue of incarceration.
“There is nowhere else to put people,” she said. “We need to stop incarceration being the easy answer. Locking them up is not working.”
Sanchez talked about his plans to visit Germany with several other lieutenant governors.
He would be focused on two primary goals while there, he said.
“My primary focus is going to be Germany’s great success with technical schools,” he said.
Praising Socorro High School’s new vocational/technical building and suggesting more students could be picking up trade skills.
“Welders on the oil rigs in Hobbs can make as much as $75,000,” he said.
His other focus in Germany will be about tourism. German’s seem to be drawn to the culture and style of the west, and particularly New Mexico, Sanchez said.
“How do we promote that,” he asked.
For those who missed Sanchez Thursday, he said he will be doing the mobile office days series again soon and welcomes any feedback from community members.
Steve Pearce talking issues with women
Congressman Steve Pearce came to Socorro Thursday to talk to women in the community.
“This is an incredible approach at changing the country,” he said.
Pearce said changing things in Washington is a slow and cumbersome process and if things are going to get changed, it will happen from the ground up.
He is meeting with women because often the husbands don’t deal with the day-to-day issues the way wives do.
It’s the wives who face the realities of education and who sit down and pay the health bills, he said.
He said the Thursday breakfast meeting with Socorro women was so dynamic and successful that he plans on coming back.
“We committed, we are going to come back and dig deeper,” he said. Next time he wants to focus on one or two issues so there is time to discuss them thoroughly.
“We want outcomes and outcomes will not originate in Washington but in Main Street,” he said. “Let’s do it here. It will start permeating through the country.”
Pearce used the example of recent forest fires, which spread to do a lot of damage in the Sacramento Mountain areas because of a Forest Service policy to “let it burn” kept firefighters from responding until too late.
“Forest Service policies have been deeply problematic and badly designed,” he said. “We changed that.”
The meetings with women can stir the idea that they do have power to change things, beginning at a local level, he said.
“You can see the empowerment burning in their eyes,” he said. “Yes we see the effects that our conversation in New Mexico have had.”
Pearce said America is tired of partisan fighting and wants compromises.
“We have allowed ourselves to become isolated into two parties,” he said. “We need to move away from sheer partisanship. It all evolves around jobs and families.”