In addition to the quick bios published in this week's "Replacebook," SFR spoke with each candidate for Lieutenant Governor at length. We've tried to keep the transcripts short and snappy enough that you'll make it through all eight...
José Campos (D)
, 48, restaurateur
SFR: What are two things Diane Denish did as Lt. Gov. that you'd have done differently?
JC: That's an interesting question. I don't think I would have done much different.
There were critical issues she had to deal with...Now that our situation has changed, we need somebody focusing more on economic development.
How would you do that?
I would be pushing to complete the transmission authority
so renewable energy can take off and create new, better-paying jobs ASAP. We're not going to create jobs just for the sake of creating jobs; we're going to be moving into a new industry of creating renewable power and utilizing that power within the state but also as an export to Arizona and California. That is going to bring billions of dollars back into the state of New Mexico. It's a whole new economic opportunity for the state of New Mexico. If we don't do it in the next four years, we will lose opportunity for the next 40.
Brian Colón (D)
, 40, attorney
What sets you apart from the four other Dems running?
Besides my red hair and freckles? (laughs) Because of my term as chairman of the Democratic Party [of New Mexico] for three years, I've got a 33-county network of people
that are willing to work tirelessly to ensure that the Diane Denish–Brian Colón ticket is the ticket that wins in November.
What has Denish done that you'd do differently?
Umm...I might have spent a little bit more time ensuring liaison work between different citizen groups... There's an extreme lack of resources in the lieutenant governor's office. It's very difficult for 8 people to reach out and do all the constituent services one would like to do.
What's the first thing you'd do to balance the budget?
First we have to reevaluate the tax rollbacks
of 2003. In 2003 we provided 40 percent tax relief for a number of New Mexicans, and while I'm not opposed to that, when the budget constricts, we have to reevaluate those decisions. We also have to close corporate tax loopholes.
Kent Cravens (R),
Your website says, "the agenda coming from Santa Fe is unhealthy." What do you mean by that?
The tax and spend agenda, the growth of state government. It takes a large amount of revenue to support a bloated government. The other agenda that's really unhealthy is the regulatory agenda that is driving industries to go to other states. I'm talking specifically about oil and gas, dairy, coal and nuclear.
...The other thing that's really unhealthy is all these governor's appointees. They have no experience; they have no vested interest
in the jobs they're doing—not in all cases, but in a lot of cases. They're simply there because they gave a contribution and they expect a return on their investment. It's fine when you have revenue to cover it and everybody has enough to do to justify their job, but when when revenues are down—we want to keep growing the size of state government? I'm really not seeing how you pay for it.
Linda Lopez (D)
, 46, part-time special projects coordinator for Bernalillo County
What makes you different?
I'm the only woman running, and the issues I've supported in my public or private life have always been around women and families.
You say education has never been fully funded, yet it's state government's single largest expense. How do you reconcile this?
The biggest bulk of money in government itself goes to pay for personnel.
That's in your schools, state government, local city or county government. That's just the nature of the beast. But I believe that for our schools to be fully funded would mean that we have smaller class sizes, in other words more teachers, and smaller student-teacher ratios at the elementary school level and all the way up through high school.
But how would you fund that?
At this point there is no more money in the pot, and we all know that. At the state we cannot come and tell each local school board what to do
...we give them the money and they distribute [it] to fit their needs. What I'm hoping
for is that this is not permanent. We have to work with school boards and unions to make sure this is not permanent.
Brian K. Moore (R)
, 58, grocer
The first line of your campaign motto is "Beyond the anger." Explain.
We've heard a lot of anger. That's typical in politics
—you're gonna get Republicans blaming Democrats and Democrats blaming Republicans. But at some level you've got to start saying, "Here's how we fix it."
What's the first thing you'd do in office, if elected?
All of us lieutenant governors, we talk like we're running for governor.
The truth is, I want to partner with the governor and start taking a look at some of the rules and regulations we're going to have in place for the oil and gas industry [and] what we're going to do about environmental issues. We need to have regulations in place, but they need to make sense from a business and a regional perspective.
What would you have done differently in Denish's shoes?
No matter who the governor is, if I see something going wrong, you've got to talk to [him/her] and say, "Guv, this is not right." At some point, if they don't follow, you need to take a step up—go the AG's office or get it out there. I can't take the unethical stuff.
You can still be respectful and disagree with the governor on some issues and be vocal about them.
Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D),
67, retired social worker
You're a big proponent of education, but many school districts are out of money. What would you do to cut costs?
There are a whole bunch of things we could do if we had more money, and I would love to try some of them, but here at least are three things we could do to cut costs:
1) Eliminate the state Public Education Department.
That would probably save $10, $12 million a year. It could be combined with the Higher Education Dept. into a single administrative body.
2) Reduce the number of days
devoted to mandated testing. It's ludicrous: 30 days a year are devoted to mandated testing.
3) Do away with the 12th grade.
Eleven would still be one more [year] than most Western democracies provide; they're covering in 10 years what we're taking 12 to cover.
What would you do to improve government transparency?
There's a curious mistrust
for openness, as if this will suddenly be seized on by the media, and they will crucify us.
I would become an advocate within the executive branch for full disclosure of our records. This whole thing of redacting certain things that might be embarrassing—it never works; it just looks bad. If we don't have anything to hide, it becomes a lot easier to be transparent.
Lawrence Rael (D),
52, retired (former director of Mid-Region Council of Governments)
What would you do to improve transparency in government?
First of all, I would take all the walls down and put in glass windows.
...That's a joke. The legislative process needs to be opened to the public. The state ought to publish a yearly report, sort of a "State of the State," not just to the legislature but to the greater community. Maybe you'd even have the governor having a weekly address to the citizens of New Mexico on how things are going.
Where's an opportunity to trim the state budget?
A classic example is transportation. There's a lot of planning by counties and COGs across the state, but at the same time we have a Department of Transportation. How do we get partnering established as part of the culture of state government?
How do we engage more counties and cities? There are opportunities like that in many areas—transportation, health and social services...
John Sanchez (R),
When did you first become a Republican?
I knew I was a Republican when I was 12 years old. The challenge for conservative Republicans is to get back to the true pillars of our values.
Why do Republicans favor less government in the fiscal sphere, but more in regulating social issues like marriage and abortion?
I don't know that it's necessarily more government involvement in those things. There are just certain beliefs
we have that should be protected. Those are really private decisions at the end of the day. But on the fiscal issues that affect all New Mexicans, that's where the discussion should begin.
Not only state government, but almost every municipality across New Mexico has followed [Gov.] Richardson's lead and simply expanding payroll, services, all those things, and today we're in this huge fiscal crisis. Whether you're liberal, conservative, Democrat, Repulican—we all end up paying the price for the irresponsibility of state and local governments that have expanded their budgets. The price is either higher taxes or less services, and that's unfortunate.
The first thing I would encourage the next governor to do is to fire every single political appointee made by the Richardson-Denish administration.