On September 30th the District 44 incumbent of 17 years Representative Jane Powdrell-Culbert and myself had a forum to discuss several different issues. If you were not able to catch the forum on Facebook live, I encourage you to watch it at the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce website starting October 7th.
I’d like to address some questions in more detail.
The first question asked for our main priority when elected. For me, it is education. I do note, it is education along with economic recovery, as they both go hand-in-hand and are New Mexico’s biggest issues at the moment.
I am tired of hearing of New Mexico’s national ranking in education for two main reasons. First, it prevails over the quality schools and classrooms I have observed, reviewed, and worked in over the course of my career. It is a ranking that does not tell the whole story. Secondly, schools cannot improve until we holistically improve communities. Yes, we do have schools in dire need. But these aren’t just schools in dire need. They are communities in need and our schools cannot solely carry their progress. Minimum wage is lower in New Mexico in all but one of our neighboring states, added with a scarcity of good paying jobs, and in turn, a harsh cycle is formed. Attracting businesses to an area in need then becomes difficult. But we can’t negate the fact that each neighborhood school is a warm meal, a safe place, and a center of positivity and hope for the future. In those classrooms “national rating” shadows drift away, and laughter and the best of all, learning is taking place!
My First Calls to Improve Education
I want to address education by calling on a fierce collaboration with the Department of Tourism and the PED to attract 1,000 highly qualified teachers to New Mexico. We are in a teacher shortage and have high turnover with teachers under five years of experience. The different reasoning I heard from my opponent, and other Republicans in the forums, was that parents are not involved enough. I can assure you that highly qualified teachers do not report many problems with parents. In my experience, parents love their children and the way in which many of them connect to the educational process, and assist in their child’s development, is unique to their family. It irritates me when people outside of education place blame on hard-working (sometimes two-three jobs) citizens of our community. My mother worked countless hours, and it was her love, providing basic needs of food, safety, and shelter, in addition to the school and community resources that we were able to transition out of poverty. Highly qualified teachers, active communities, and hard-working families model and provide a pathway to success for students.
A Need to Attract Medical Professionals and Business
The shadow people like to paint on our state’s educational system should be looked at more holistically as it is tied to our economy. A point I did not get to fully address was that we need to attract medical professionals to our state. My neighbor just reminded me that her doctor is retiring, and he has no one to come in and take over his practice. He stated that the educational system bothers many of his contacts, not wanting to make the move to our state. This concerns me because I would recommend RRPS to anyone in the country, along with many charter schools, APS schools, and rural districts around our state as well. It is not black or white, yet we allow this depiction to continue.
Paseo del Volcan
I stated that Sandoval County started working on this pathway in 1998. The Legislature, City Councils, as well as Sandoval and Bernalillo County have only developed five-out-of-over 50 miles that will connect highways I-40 and 550. This project has become stagnant and disconnected. I ask that you vote or support government leaders to Santa Fe that believe in term limits, so we can have urgency on issues and projects moving forward. This project has hugely affected economic development to Sandoval County. Rio Rancho, for example, depends a great deal on property taxes due to a lack of business presence that could balance our tax system. Likewise, businesses and developers overlook Rio Rancho because there are no major highway connections to the metro area. We can and must do better.
My final point was cut short, but it was going to be that our Environmental, Infrastructure, Economic and Educational improvements must be transparently communicated to constituents through District Representatives and Senators. You can depend on that from me, just like I’ve strived to do in this newsletter.