Congressional District 3 candidate Laura Montoya campaigns in San Juan County. Courtesy photo
Democrat Laura Montoya is running for the 3rd Congressional District seat. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Laura Montoya is feisty and fun and can talk just about any subject you throw at her in an easy, confident manner. As she campaigns for the 3rd Congressional District seat from Gallup to Clovis and every place in between, she tells people the country needs to get back to basics.
“Our government should provide affordable healthcare and education, clean water, healthy food and a safe place for people to lay their head,” Montoya said.
She said the 3rd Congressional District needs sustainable jobs that pay well so that people do not have to leave their communities to find opportunity.
“We need leaders who will come to the table to discuss and work on legislation that helps the people we represent. My values are clear: helping my community and fighting for what we believe is right, even when it’s not the most popular thing to do,” Montoya said.
She believes the tax structure needs to be fixed and that reform of the national budget needs to be prioritized.
Montoya was born, raised and educated in Las Vegas where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Psychology from New Mexico Highlands University and later obtained her Master’s degree in Public Affairs. In 2003, she studied International Relations at the University of Costa Rica while she was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
Her mother, Geralyn Montoya is a school counselor and educator who took the issue of the right of New Mexican women to maternity leave and to return to work in the same job and pay following the birth. Her father, Michael L. Montoya, a rancher all his life, is a former Las Vegas city councilman who retired from the Department of Transportation after 25 years of service.
Laura Montoya worked for Sen. Jeff Bingaman in her early days of government as a constituent services representative. She managed five counties in Northern New Mexico and was the youngest Latina woman working in that capacity in the country at that time.
A public servant for more than 17 years, Montoya was elected Sandoval County Treasurer in 2012 and reelected in 2016. She has served as Legislative Chairwoman for the past six years for the Treasurer’s Affiliate and assisted in passage of legislation to remove tax loop holes, effect efficiency of tax collections and equitability of taxes. She also worked on legislation to help veterans, seniors and the disabled. At the national level, she serves as the Vice Chair of Finance, Pensions & Intergovernmental Affairs committee which overseas tax, pension, finance, tribal issues and elections.
Montoya is no stranger to handling money. In addition to being the treasurer for the fastest growing county in the state, she serves on the New Mexico Tax Policy committee and is the chair of the Sandoval Treasurer’s Investment Committee. She manages some $20 million in investments, $50 million in non-property tax revenue and more than $1 billion in property taxes her office is responsible for collecting. She said her 99.37 percent collection rate for the 10 years charged to the Treasurer to collect is one of the highest in the state.
Montoya told the Los Alamos Reporter she believes early childhood and pre-K education should be fully-funded. She also believes nobody who is working should still be paying off student debt 15 years after completing their college education.
Montoya said she supports background checks for anyone who purchases a gun from anyone outside their own family.
“Rifles and guns are part of our rural culture in this state and are used to protect our livestock and families as well as allow for hunting to provide food for our communities,” she said.
Montoya is always anxious to talk about veterans.
“There are more veterans per capita in New Mexico than in any other state in the nation and they have always stepped up to serve our country. We need to support our veterans and military people as well as their families. We need to make sure they have appropriate professional healthcare and counseling provided to them when they need it. No veteran of our military should be homeless or hungry and should receive the benefits they earned while serving our country,” she said.
Montoya is also seeking long-term legislation for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PiLT) and Secure Rural Schools for federal lands. She said there are more than 14 million acres of federal land in the 3rd Congressional District and that 23 percent of that qualifies for PiLT. She said the federal government doesn’t always fulfill its promises on PiLT which is why she supports long-term legislation that requires it to be recurring funds.