Candidates: Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics, D, and Joseph “Joey” Tiano, R.
The overview: Incumbent Stefanics, who ran unopposed in the June primary election, is squaring off against Tiano, a retired law enforcement officer making his first run for public office. Stefanics held the seat from 1993-96 and reclaimed it 2016, but barely edged out her Republican opponent, making her reelection bid a closely watched race. The district includes parts Santa Fe, San Miguel, Torrance, Bernalillo, Valencia and Lincoln counties.
What they say: Tiano, a self-described constitutional conservative who is pro-life and champions gun rights and term limits, believes Stefanic’s progressive politics don’t reflect the values of most voters in the largely rural district. “I’ve been out and about amongst the constituents of this district, Democrats included, and they aren’t happy with the progressives,” he said.
Stefanics is proud to champion the progressive values of the Democratic Party. “I include in the progressive values respecting people’s choices,” she said.
How the district voted in 2016: Stefanics won by a razor-thin margin.
Key issues for the district: Stefanics says her priorities are unique to each area of the sprawling district, but they range from providing her constituents adequate health care, food, education, broadband access to fighting substance abuse.
Some of Tiano’s priorities are familiar to many Republicans: abortion, gun rights, voter identification and lower taxes.
Bottom line: Stefanics, who served two terms as a Santa Fe County commissioner, has high name recognition and a much bigger war chest, $123,000 cash on hand compared with Tiano’s $33,000.
“We are doing phone banking. We’re doing mailings. We’re doing virtual media. We’ll be doing radio and advertising in the papers,” Stefanics said. “We’re not taking anything for granted.”
Another advantage: Democrats outnumber Republicans in the district.
Tiano is undeterred.
“I may be running as a Republican, but I’m running as a New Mexican to protect your constitutional rights,” he said. “And I’ve got lots of Democrat support, lots of Democrat support.”
Stefanics believes her years of public service and diverse work experience makes her more qualified for the post. Tiano, however, contends his opponent is out of touch with the district and, unlike him, isn’t a real New Mexican.
DEMOCRAT Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Stefanics
Lives in: Cerrillos
Educational background: Bachelor’s degree, Eastern Kentucky University; Master’s degree, University of Wisconsin; Ph.D., University of Minnesota.
Occupation: Retired. Former occupations include: university professor, executive director for nonprofits; Santa Fe County commissioner (two terms); state senator (two terms); state Risk Management director; deputy secretary of state Human Services Department; executive director of state Health Policy Commission. Has served on a variety of boards, commissions and task forces.
Have you ever been charged or convicted of a crime, including drunken driving? No.
Have you ever filed for bankruptcy or been involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, either personally or in business? No.
Have you ever been the subject of liens for unpaid taxes? No.
1. Has Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s response to the COVID-19 crisis been adequate? What more (or less) should be done?
Yes. The governor needs the power and authority during a public health emergency to safeguard the public. Ongoing health needs to be addressed during a pandemic — i.e., cancer, asthma, chronic diseases. An addition could be a bipartisan legislative advisory committee to weigh in on the issues and consequences of all mandates.
2. The Legislature will soon be tasked with redistricting New Mexico. Has the process been fair in the past, and what would you do to make sure it’s fairer and more transparent?
I believe an independent redistricting commission is warranted and did sponsor such a bill in the 2020 legislative session. I will continue to support such an independent commission.
3. What measures will you support to diversify the state’s economy and reduce its reliance on oil and gas?
New Mexico’s economy could be strengthened with tax reform — reinstating a graduated progressive income tax rate, a tax on legalized marijuana, and an equitable tax on hybrid and electric vehicles. Supporting all forms of renewable energy (solar, wind, thermal, etc), as well as other green sustainable industries — aquaponics, green house growing. Expand sustainable tourism throughout the state.
4. Do you support term limits? If not, why not?
No. I believe that when the public and the voters are unhappy with the work of an elected official, they will work hard to replace them.
REPUBLICAN Joseph ‘Joey’ Tiano
Tiano did not provide responses to a questionnaire.
The New Mexican