From left, State Senate District 32 candidates Tim Jennings and Cliff Pirtle participate in the Candidate Forum at First Baptist Church of Roswell, Tuesday night. Noah Vernau Photo
With just two weeks to go before Election Day, New Mexico citizens had the opportunity to get a clearer picture of what their local candidates stand for during the Candidate Forum, Tuesday, at First Baptist Church. The forum was presented by Leadership Roswell Alumni Association and Roswell Daily Record, and was the 30th forum in 16 years.
Sen. Tim Jennings, D-Roswell, and Cliff Pirtle, his Republican challenger, wasted little time showing why their race for State Senate District 32 has been a contentious one.
When asked if the Legislature provides enough information regarding activities to the public and how to improve the practice of open government, Jennings said that if you let the executive branch into all the inner-workings of the Legislature, then the executive branch should be opened up as well.
“Shouldn’t we be allowed to see the same things that have happened in the executive branch?” Jennings said. “Why do they do theirs in secret? Why do I put my campaign reports out, and where I get all my money, and I’m running against somebody who is spending over $500,000 to beat me with out-of-state money, and they don’t have to list where it came from, from anybody?” He added that all of his contributions are from “the people of New Mexico” and not from the “Republican Party of Florida or from some big guy in Texas.”
Pirtle responded by saying that his out-of-state contributions are public record. “I’ve taken $250 from out of state, while Tim Jennings?
Fifty-thousand dollars from out-of-state interests. So to come down on me, call me a puppet, and say that I’m being controlled by out-of-state interests? … I have raised $35,000 vs. over $200,000 that Mr. Jennings has had, and he’s spent [that] calling me names, going to my house, harassing my wife. So you tell me where the out-of state interest is coming in.”
Bill Burt, R-Alamogordo, who is running against Stephanie L. Dubois, D-Tularosa, for State Senate District 33, was asked how he would rate the rules the Legislature has in place regarding the ethical behavior of its members in Congress. Burt said there are plenty of rules, but that “we need to follow the rules and enforce the rules.”
“We have to remember that the Good Ol’ Boy day is gone, that we have to follow the rules, and do the right thing by the state. If the rules say that we’re not supposed to do something, that’s what we should not do.”
Dubois did not participate in the forum.
U.S. House of Representatives District 2 candidate Evelyn Madrid Erhard, a Las Cruces Democrat, is running against incumbent Steve Pearce, of Hobbs, who did not participate. When asked for one word she would use to describe effective leadership, Erhard said “empathy.” “I believe that if you have empathy for the people that you are going to be representing, to understand them and to understand what their needs are and listen to them, I believe we can accomplish so much.”
Magil Duran, a Democrat, is vying for County Commission District 4 against Robert Corn, a Republican. Corn did not participate in the forum.
When Duran was asked about the presence of trash on private property, he said that if a person is not maintaining his or her property, they should be charged for the amount of money it takes to clean up the mess. “It’s incumbent upon us because when you come into Roswell, and you’re coming down Main Street … the first impressions are the most lasting.”
State House of Representatives District 58 candidate Pablo Martinez, of Dexter, is running against Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, who did not participate. In his opening comments, Martinez emphasized the importance of education in Roswell. “There is a saying that says it takes a village to educate the child. And that village is not the public education program in our community. That village is parents, grandparents, teachers, administrators, assistants, and then the children coming into school every day. We can’t teach a child if the child does not come to school. We can’t teach a child if we don’t have the resources available for us to teach that child.”
Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. The polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Early in person voting and voting by absentee ballot is in progress now.