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FROM THE PUBLISHER

People have the power only if they exercise it

Posted

Even if you’ve been living in the Hermit Cave in the Organ Mountains for the past year, it would be hard to believe you were unaware of the election.

Many of you have already voted, perhaps more early voters than ever. And many of you are waiting until Tuesday because you hold that day dear. I don’t really care when or how you vote, but I do care if you vote. Voting is a sacred act, vital to our democracy. So please vote.

My hat is off to all the candidates who chose to put themselves on the line, disrupting their lives to work for their beliefs and help our system work.

I’m not going to tell you who to vote for in the individual races, but I do have some comments about the questions you’ll find on your ballot regarding bonds and constitutional amendments.

BOND C

We all know the importance of New Mexico State University to Las Cruces, but NMSU also has a vital importance to the state of New Mexico, to our southwest region and beyond.

We are an agricultural school and should strive to be the nation’s best one. Bond C would help fund NMSU’S Agricultural Modernization and Educational Facilities project. The project, which includes a building for biomedical teaching and research, could give NMSU some of the best agricultural facilities in the nation. That would boost our student opportunities immediately, but also make NMSU attractive for top agricultural faculty, as well as for international research projects.

In other words, it’s a chance for NMSU to take a giant leap forward, providing tremendous opportunities for our community and our state. In 2018, New Mexico voters stepped up to pass the bonds for the design phase of these projects. We need Bond C to help push it toward the finish line.

In New Mexico, we are sick and tired of languishing at the bottom of so many lists. NMSU has long been recognized nationally as one of the best educational values in America, and we’re also one of the top Hispanic-serving universities. The improvements and opportunity Bond C would create for NMSU could dramatically enhance and advance our university’s mission. Give us a chance to make a true bold step forward.

AMENDMENT 1

Constitutional Amendment 1 would change the way the state’s Public Regulation Commission is created. This is the body that oversees public utilities in New Mexico. Currently, there are five elected members, one each representing a geographic district in the state. The amendment would reduce the commission from five to three and make them governor appointees rather than publicly elected.

The PRC has always been an unusual election. It is challenging both from the standpoint of finding qualified candidates and educating the voters. Voter turnout for the PRC has historically been low, in part for those reasons. And despite being a practical and important commission, it doesn’t have the broad appeal to voters of a more well-known office, such as governor or senator.

That said, I believe making them governor-appointed positions makes them much more political than they may already be. The people’s direct voices are getting muted enough these days.

I’m not well-versed on public utilities, but certainly there could one day be a highly politicized issue surrounding public utilities, creating an opportunity for a governor to stack the PRC deck in his or her favor, creating an angry backlash among New Mexicans.

And then, sure enough, we’d have a push for another constitutional amendment changing things back the way they were.

Seems to me, in a government of the people, we don’t want to take their powers away. Let’s keep the PRC commission elected by the people.

Richard Coltharp