Several statewide offices are on the ballot in November with candidates vying to become secretary of state, auditor, treasurer and attorney general.
Make sure to vote in these races — they are contested, always a good thing and the people who win these jobs exercise a great deal of authority and power. What they do can impact all of our lives. Here are our endorsements in statewide races.
Secretary of state
Yes, incumbent Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, should not have muddied the water by attempting to bring back straight-party ticket voting in New Mexico, using the authority of a statute that allows her office to determine the form of a ballot. Her effort was beaten back, and voters will have to fill in every oval to make their choices.
However, Toulouse Oliver’s attempt to reinstate straight-party ticket voting does not define her. What does count is her excellent record in running the office efficiently and professionally. She is a champion for improving access to voting and will go to bat for open primaries and other measures that will allow all eligible New Mexicans eligible to participate. We also support her efforts in securing the safety and security of our ballots. We have paper ballots in New Mexico. We can audit the results. Voters know their votes will be counted, and counted fairly.
Should she be re-elected, we hope Toulouse Oliver continues looking for ways to make voting more accessible.
What is happening in New Mexico stands in stark contrast to voter suppression efforts in other states, such as North Dakota and Georgia, and we need to keep it that way. For secretary of state, Maggie Toulouse Oliver.
Brian Colón is perhaps the most cheerful candidate we’ve ever met. He’s the Democratic nominee for state auditor, running against GOP incumbent Wayne Johnson (appointed when Tim Keller resigned to become mayor of Albuquerque). Colón is a lawyer with a degree in finance, someone who loves politics more for his desire to help people than to wield power. He believes the auditor must continue to be the point person in uncovering problems in how governments are run, looking for the proverbial waste, fraud and abuse and serving as a watchdog on corruption. Colón wants to take the office on the road and get input around the state — less Santa Fe and more the rest of the state, in other words. With his work ethic, background in finance and dedication to doing the best job possible, Colón is our choice. For auditor, Brian Colón.
Incumbent treasurer Tim Eichenberg, a Democrat, has the job of serving as New Mexico’s banker. He helps invest funds, disburses money, reconciles accounts and keeps track of the state’s cash flow. This is a complicated job, one that Eichenberg had to manage during times of scarcity when the state’s revenues were down. The former state senator, who has broad knowledge of both business and government, has done his job competently and with little fuss. That’s a good thing for a banker. For state treasurer, Tim Eichenberg.
Incumbent Democrat Hector Balderas has run an office of accomplishment. As the state’s legal counsel he is there to defend New Mexico’s interests, provide opinions as requested and fight for individual. Balderas has been quick to step up to disagree with the Trump administration when its anti-immigration efforts would hurt New Mexicans. He wants greater authority to prosecute criminals who hurt children and he is a key player in the fight against the opioid epidemic. On the civil litigation side, Balderas helped secure the largest tobacco settlement payment in state history and is involved in aggressive action against the opioid industry, making New Mexico the first state to sue distributors as well as manufacturers of the lethal drug. Lately, he has increased calls to enforce penalties for failure to comply with the state’s open records laws, which protect the public’s right to know. We’d like more of that.
In a second term, we hope to see Balderas involved in criminal justice reform for New Mexico — an effort that protects public safety, keeps dangerous criminals behind bars but also increases rehabilitation efforts for people who are not a risk to society. For attorney general, Hector Balderas.
Commissioner of Public Lands
In the race for commissioner of public lands, voters have a true choice. Cattleman Patrick Lyons, who held the office for two terms between 2003 and 2010, is the Republican; he also just finished two terms on the Public Regulation Commission. Educator Stephanie Garcia Richard is a Democratic state representative and brings a nontraditional background to the Land Office, which manages 13 million acres of mineral rights and 9 million acres of land. Lease money from those lands helps support public schools, universities, penitentiaries and a few hospitals. Constitutionally, the charge for the land commissioner is to make as much money as possible for the beneficiaries.
There is no question that Lyons has the most experience. He has managed land all his life, whether his ranches or at the land office. He understands the ins and outs of the oil and gas business and ranching — the customers who lease land, after all. His critics point to excessive campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry — Lyons is awash in industry money, less because they are buying his support than because he already agrees with them. Even more of a concern, though, are events from his previous terms in office. Lyons went too far in attempting to put together a land swap around the White Peak area that hunters believed would cut off access. The Supreme Court blocked that deal, and Lyons told us he has learned his lesson.
What can’t be learned on the job, however, is how best to manage land resources to maximize investments. Garcia Richard has done an excellent job in the Legislature and has a bright future in politics — whether as state senator, or candidate for statewide office. We can see her as a potential Cabinet secretary for the Public Education Department. Imagine, a teacher in charge. However, for this race at this time, for commissioner of public lands, Patrick Lyons.
Bonds, constitutional amendments, regional transit district tax