Republican Diamantina ‘Stormy’ Prado Storment is running for the Senate District 5 seat. Courtesy photo
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Diamantina “Stormy” Prada Storment is a retired educator who lives in Chama where she and her husband Ray run an RV park called “Little Creel”. She is the Republican candidate for State Senate District 5 and is running against Rio Arriba County Commission Chair Leo Jaramillo of Espanola.
Storment chatted with the Los Alamos Reporter by phone and discussed her background and why she is running for office. She said she and her husband became involved in politics during the Gov. Bruce King administration. Her husband was elected sheriff in Dona Ana County, having previously served as a city policeman, a state policeman and a county investigator.
“We became involved during the King administration and I learned to love politics because I could see the changes made by certain people,” Storment said.
Now she is running for the seat formerly held by Democratic Sen. Richard Martinez. Storment, who was a Democrat for some 63 years before becoming a Republican, said people are ready for a change.
“I think it’s time that we actually got back to where our roots come from, a different era. There are a lot of different needs that have come up, different needs than when I was growing up and I see today where it’s kind of like spinning our wheels and we have nothing to show for it,” she said.
Storment said she has always been a very strong person.
“I come from very humble beginnings and the key to the world and to our future, my parents always insisted, was education. They insisted daily when I was going to school and in the summertime, when we would get out and take little rides around Storment Farms they would talk about it,” she said. “All my family has graduated from New Mexico State University – my father, my mother, my brother, my husband, my son and I. My father used to always tell me, ‘Get an education, mija, because it will set you free’.”
As the years went by, Storment said when she entered education and became involved, she began to see there were other needs.
“Governor King and Governor (Susana) Martinez both appointed me to the Human Rights Commission and they opened my eyes to this beautiful state called New Mexico. For years I traveled for hearings all over the state. I saw the needs but I couldn’t do anything from the outside. I was an educator for more than 30 years and as a result I was occupied and whenever I could do something in my community I was up and ready to do so,” she said.
Storment said now that their son is grown and gone, she and her husband are working the RV park but she continues to see the needs of her community and the state of New Mexico.
“One afternoon, I was thinking about things that are going on with this virus and all the problems that were happening and I decided then that I was going to make a difference. I brought it to my family and their response was, ‘If anyone can do it, you can,’ ” she said.
She noted that after the primary election, there was a rumor that she had decided to withdraw from the race and that she had called the people who informed her of the rumor.
“I said you don’t know me. I never give up. When I believe in something I hold onto it and I would like to see some changes coming from the legislature. I have a lot of items in my plate that I would like to get involved in and I am very serious,” Storment said. “I want to be elected. I want people to vote for me not because I’m a woman, or I’m Hispanic, or because I’m fluent in Spanish, or because I’m a Republican, or because I’m a Democrat or because I’m educated.”
She said she wants people to vote for her because they believe that she’s qualified educationally, because they believe she has the character to get the work done, because they believe in her dreams of ‘a world without abortions, a world where everyone has the right to defend themselves from whatever comes their way’.
‘I want a dream where I can go to church anywhere and not feel that I’m being threatened because of my religious beliefs. I love America and I want us to go back to that. I want to go back to where it’s okay to own a gun. It’s okay to go to church wherever in this country that I want to go,” Storment said.
She said when she looks at her list of issues, it covers a number of things and that one of the things that is really important has to do with border security.
“I’ve lived in Southern New Mexico for many, many years, most of my life and in New Mexico for all of it. As a result I believe we are considered the poorest state in the United States, but in the same breath we’re told that we have the largest oil reserves in this country. Where is the accountability, why do we continue to be the poorest state when we have a lot of oil, but we also have a lot of natural gas. There’s a lot of things we are missing in our state,” she said.
Storment said she went to Espanola not so long ago and was informed that all the main streets are state highways.
“Yet they don’t all have sidewalks on either side of the highway and they don’t all have night lights. A lot of the infrastructure is supposed to be covered by the state because the highways belong to the state,” she said. “Those are the issues that are concerning me”.
Storment believes there is a problem with students being taught online when the IT the state has is not meeting the needs of the children. She also mentioned that she would like to see more accountability with the state budget.
“I would like to see a little bit more of the money accounted for and actually be informed at the end of the year each year what was accomplished in our budget. I don’t see anything and I would like to get involved in that. I would like to get involved in the care of our elderly and the care of our veterans. I consider the elderly in our state to be the treasure of history. I consider the veteran a man who of his own accord went to a war when he in many cases wasn’t aware why and he comes back and he needs medical attention, he needs a job, he needs to be recognized for his being a hero. He went out there to protect us so the wars wouldn’t come to us,” she said.
Storment said the elderly also need assistance.
“The elderly have lived back when this was considered the great America. We have books to write on how it compares to today. I loved sitting at my grandma’s feet and listening to her play the guitar and stop and start reminiscing about her childhood, her youth, her vision for this nation and they’re dying off. They need healthcare. They need better recognition by the state for their accomplishments,” she said.
Storment said she has a lot of dreams including improving education in the state.
“We have young people that go to college in New Mexico and they want to stay in New Mexico. Lots of New Mexicans are from big families and they want to stay with family but we don’t offer them jobs that pay what they need to survive in the state. We need more business brought into the state of New Mexico – businesses that don’t bring in their own employees but businesses that hire our young. They will stay here. They want to stay here,” she said.
Storment said she knows she has probably put more on her plate than she can accomplish but that it’s like striving for the moon and settling for the stars.
“I believe I can get to some of those stars and that’s the reason I’m running. I believe we can do better and some of the old ways are still good but applied in a different format. It’s time that we would have a change, not only in the legislature, but also a change in us. We need to start dreaming again of doing better. The fact is that if you strive for a lot you will accomplish something. Always strive for more,” she said. “I’d like to make a difference. I’d like to be able to say someday that I participated in accomplishing these things.”
Storment said she is a very positive person and that when she sees something that needs to be fixed, she finds a way to do it. She said she has taught in San Antonio, Carlsbad and Las Cruces.
“I had a variety of subjects – Spanish, English, Social Studies, and then I taught bilingual education. I have a master’s in bilingual education. In every place that I ever taught I encouraged our students to do something that when they came back for their 10th year class reunion, they would say, ‘We did this for the schools’,” she said. “In Socorro we built a park. The high school sits on a big mountaintop which made it so difficult because we didn’t have soil, we just had rock, but the students and I accomplished that. In Las Cruces we did a massive three-acre park in front of Mayfield High School to honor our educators. In Carlsbad, I introduced our students as a school-wide project to the history of the Hispanic. The last thing I did was in El Paso at Irving High School where we painted two massive murals representing our nation and our people and bringing them all together. I know they may sound insignificant to some but if you see them, they’re not.”
Storment said she is so far away in Chama that it’s difficult to do the campaigning that everybody else does.
“I have relied heavily on people that come to the Little Creel from Espanola, from the Labs – a lot of people from Los Alamos that come – and they have gotten to know us in the last six years. They have joined together to do a lot of that knocking on doors and they have gotten their families together and they’re making calls to their friends. All the things I should be doing, I can’t do because I live up here but the fact remains, I’m not short on help,” she said.
Storment said when she approached people about running for senate, she told them she’d didn’t know a soul there especially in Espanola.
“In Chama I’m getting pretty well known now but in Espanola I have no idea and then Los Alamos even worse. I didn’t know what to do there,” she said.
Asked why someone should vote for her rather than her opponent, Storment said the difference is she doesn’t know anything about her opponent.
“I do know one thing – that he works at the (Los Alamos National) Lab – I did read that in the paper – but I don’t know anything about him or his political history. I want to keep it that way because I’m not running against him. I’m running for me and that’s important to me. So I want them to see both sides and choose the one that will actually accomplish what they promised. As I am not from Espanola or Los Alamos, a lot of things about those two areas, I’m not totally aware of and I have chosen not to get involved in researching my opponent at all because I want to be elected on my ability to do the job,” she said.
Storment said she also doesn’t ever talk about her party affiliation.
“I’m running on my merits, not on my party’s merits. I’m not running to support the world, I’m running to support myself, to accomplish. I’m going to have to get in there and work with everybody in the Senate. I should be able to relate to a Democrat as equally as I would relate to a Republican. If I am elected, it will be to represent both,” she said. “If you want a hard worker with many dreams and the strength to work with others to reach those dreams you need to vote for me.”