Both major political parties saw some signs of encouragement in municipal elections Tuesday. The most high-profile election took place in Santa Fe. Not only is the state capital one of the largest cities in the state, it also used ranked choice voting for the first time. Santa Fe voters chose Alan Webber as the next mayor. The election had high turnout with 38 percent of the city’s registered voters taking part.
If Gov. Susana Martinez’s call to reinstate the death penalty after the killing of an on-duty police officer looks familiar, that’s because something very similar happened last year. After the 2015 high-profile killings of Rio Rancho police officer Gregg Benne and Albuquerque police officer Daniel Webster, Martinez and Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives made tough-on-crime measures their signature effort during the ensuing legislative session. Now, another high-profile death of a cop—this time Hatch police officer Jose Chavez—presents a similar political opportunity. And this time, it comes ahead of a general election where Republicans are aiming to preserve their majority in the state House of Representatives and win control of the state Senate. In a prepared statement announcing her intentions, Martinez also evoked the recent Dallas massacre of five cops during a protest prompted by police shootings of two unarmed black men in Louisiana and Minnesota.
The First Family touched down in New Mexico Friday afternoon in Roswell, greeted by dignitaries including Gov. Susana Martinez, then headed to Carlsbad Caverns via a caravan for a private tour. President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Malia and Sasha dressed warmly in cavern, which was nearly 50 degrees cooler than the sun-drenched surface. “How cool is this?” Obama while in the “Big Room,” one of the most recognizable features of Carlsbad Caverns, according to reporters. The room is 754 feet underground—the equivalent of a 75-story building. The tallest building in New Mexico is at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza and is 351 feet tall.
The big spending by a political action committee in the recent Las Cruces elections is receiving national attention. USA Today cited the spending by GOAL WestPAC in trying to defeat incumbent mayor Ken Miyagishima as one way that money is increasingly flooding into local elections. In New Mexico, the focus of the Goal WestPAC is “the economic and business climate” in the state, said Mark Murphy, the PAC’s chairman and president of Strata Production, an oil-and-gas exploration company in Roswell, N.M., about 180 miles northeast of Las Cruces. Murphy and his company also have donated $35,000 to the super PAC, records show. PAC officials decided to target Miyagishima and city politicians over what Murphy called a “history of overregulation and taxation,” including support for a 2013 gross receipts tax.
A proposal to rename two Roswell streets after civil rights icons Martin Luther King Jr. and César Chávez is bringing attention to a growing dispute in the city. A public meeting in the city’s downtown library last week, according to the Roswell Daily Record “illustrat[ed] a deep ethnic divide” in the city between Hispanics and Anglos. The newspaper reports that “19 people who appeared to be Anglo” spoke in opposition to renaming the streets while four people who were “clearly Hispanic” spoke in favor. No final decisions were made, and some city councilors are characterizing vocal opposition to the street renaming proposal as racial in nature. The Associated Press spoke to one city councilor who had a theory on the opponents of the name change.
A bill that would legalize marijuana had an up-hill battle this session and now it has stalled indefinitely. Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana while allowing the state to tax and regulate the sales. The legislation was tabled, in a near-unanimous vote, in the House Agriculture Water and Wildlife Committee on Friday. The bill’s future looked grim from the start, as it was assigned to five committees. Three committee assignments is seen as a difficult road to travel.