Kristina Ortez/Courtesy photo
BY DARIEN FERNANDEZ
I want to express my condolences to the family of the late Senator Carlos Cisneros. I am grateful to his family and to him for serving our state for more than 30 years.
Senator Cisneros and I often disagreed on policy and the best way to move our state forward, but we always did so with civility. He was always open to sitting down and hearing different perspectives. But these differences were important—a woman’s right to choose; fully funding early childhood education; and protecting our air, land, and water. Because of these differences, I had decided to challenge Senator Cisneros in the upcoming primary election.
I want to especially thank my family and friends for encouraging me to run. I want to thank Mayor Barrone and Council members Evans, Hahn, and Maestas for the early support they offered. I also want to thank everyone who offered me words of encouragement as I talked to people around the district.
The death of Senator Cisneros now leaves our Governor in a position to appoint a replacement. Michelle Lujan Grisham was elected by a wide margin statewide, and took over 80% of the vote across this state senate district. She has championed her support to follow a clear mandate from the people to revoke the state’s antiquated abortion law. She has a clear mandate from the people to invest in early childhood education by taking money we already have in the bank. She has a clear mandate from the people to support the legalization of recreational marijuana so our communities can expand their sources of revenue at a time when out-of-state online sales are pummeling municipal and county budgets.
But our hardworking Governor cannot do it all alone. She needs, and our state needs, legislators who will support her agenda and her clear mandate. Our state is last in childhood well-being. With so much poverty in our state, we also need legislators who will not attack our state’s poorest by attempting to reintroduce a food tax.
We also need representative democracy. I wanted to run because I know our needs and our people, but I’m appalled that only eight women currently serve in the State Senate. I’m now thrilled that we can have both a Taos woman senator and a senator who supports early childhood education, the right for a woman to make her own personal decisions about reproductive healthcare, and policies that will protect our land and water. That’s why I’ve decided not to run for Senate and to instead support Kristina Ortez.
Kristina Ortez comes from a family of farmworkers, and was educated at Harvard. She got her Masters in Public Administration while raising two young children and running a local nonprofit in Taos. She understands the struggles faced by ordinary New Mexicans, because she is one. She’s not a politician. She lives in our community and has worked to protect our land and water. She has been instrumental in reviving the Vigil y Romo acequia that runs through Taos, and serves as the Secretary of its commission.
Kristina Ortez will stand with all New Mexicans and clearly stands with the values of our district. I cannot in good conscience stand in the way of such a candidate who shares my values, our district’s and state’s values, and will make the state senate more inclusive and representative of New Mexico.
I thank you all for supporting me, and ask that you support Kristina as she seeks the appointment and then runs to retain the position. Please email and call your county commissioners and ask that they endorse her. Our community, district, and state will be better for it.