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 V.17 No.44 | October 30 - November 5, 2008 
Alibi’s Online Election Guide
Tina Larkin

Feature

U.S. Congress

If Martin Heinrich is elected to serve as our congressperson for the First Congressional District, New Mexico would gain a moderate progressive in a seat that’s held a hard-right conservative for the last decade.

Heinrich’s reasonably new to the political landscape. He was elected to the Albuquerque City Council in 2003 and served a four-year term (including one year as Council president). He chose not to run again last year in order to pursue larger ambitions. But during his tenure on the Council, Heinrich managed to accomplish what few councilors could: He created and pushed through important socially and environmentally minded legislation; he refused to bow down to the Mayor’s Office; he reached across party lines; and he garnered himself an avid base. It is his experience on the Council that gives us confidence in his abilities as a leader and a creative and open-minded thinker—qualities this country craves in an elected official.

It is his experience on the Council that gives us confidence in his abilities as a leader and a creative and open-minded thinker—qualities this country craves in an elected official.

Heinrich is known for his environmental record, supporting legislation that protected the Ojito Wilderness and Valle Vidal. He was also one of three councilors that introduced a plan to make the city’s building code more energy efficient. If Heinrich were our congressperson, he would continue to push alternative energy and environmental legislation. In his campaign, he refers to an eight-point plan that includes drilling domestic oil on a case-by-case basis; cutting oil company tax breaks; and encouraging solar, wind, geothermal and research for safer nuclear power.

As congressperson, Heinrich would support a timetable for withdrawal in Iraq and a middle-class tax cut. He would also work to pass the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill (SCHIP) that President Bush vetoed, which would have extended medical coverage to nearly 30,000 New Mexico children. He would also vote for requiring pharmaceutical corporations to negotiate prices with Congress, opening up Medicare to younger people, and "incentivizing prevention and early intervention."

If Sheriff Darren White was elected to Congress, we would have a congressperson with a tattoo of Ronald Reagan’s face on his calf.

Heinrich doesn’t have as many of the finer points of his proposed legislation fleshed out as we’d like, but we believe in his abilities, his bipartisanship and his conscience. He’s shown that he listens to his constituents. We trust him. And with that, we enthusiastically give Martin Heinrich our full endorsement.

If Sheriff Darren White was elected to Congress, we would have a congressperson with a tattoo of Ronald Reagan’s face on his calf. The point may seem trivial, but it also serves as a model for what White mostly has going for him: his likability (even if you don’t like Reagan, you’ve got to be at least amused by seeing his face imprinted on someone’s leg).

White has a charming, firm-handshake persona. He earned points with us when he ran for re-election as Bernalillo County Sheriff in 2006. Despite being in a race he would easily win (his opponent was a 26-year-old security guard who refused to campaign or return any phone calls from most media), White came in for his endorsement interview with a severe case of laryngitis. He had to whisper through the entire hour but was still congenial, thoughtful and well-reasoned in his answers. He easily won our endorsement that year.

But this race is different. White’s still a likable guy (he was the lead singer in The Force, APD’s all-star anti-drugs rock band, after all), but he just doesn’t have the experience needed for this position. He was an Albuquerque police officer for eight years, and he spent five years as the secretary of the Department of Public Safety under Gov. Gary Johnson. He’s been Bernalillo County Sheriff since 2002. Those positions, while esteemed, don’t necessarily translate to Congress.

White says he supports a comprehensive energy policy, but he only explains what that is in broad, general terms. He is in favor of potentially drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He doesn’t believe it’s time for the U.S. to withdraw from Iraq. He doesn’t support a national health care system but thinks small businesses should be able to pool to buy insurance. White is adamant about lowering taxes—he touts ideas such as increasing per-child tax credits from $1,000 to $1,250 and giving a tax benefit to those who buy their own insurance.

In the end, White’s not a bad guy. He might make a decent congressperson, but we disagree with many of his policy stances. Don’t elect him, but do ask him for a peek of that tattoo.

Job Description: The federal representative for New Mexicans living in the first Congressional district. Drafts and votes on legislation.

Term: Two years (no term limit)

Salary: $169,300

Martin Heinrich, Democrat

District 1
Includes all of Albuquerque and parts of Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, Valencia and Torrance Counties

Website: martinheinrich.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

I have been fighting for working men and women my whole life, and I am ready to take my progressive message of hard work and opportunity to Washington. Whether it was as an engineer, president of the Albuquerque City Council or through working to preserve New Mexico's natural treasures, I possess the skills, judgment and experience to get the results that make a difference in people's lives.

I was born to working-class parents and grew up on a rural ranch. Growing up, I spent my childhood enjoying the outdoors, including as an active member of 4-H. My parents were the kind of workers who showered at the end of the day, not the beginning—my father was an IBEW lineman and my mother worked in an auto parts factory.

My experience working at Phillips Labs (now Air Force Research Labs) makes me a powerful advocate for critical research and military funding in Congress. I worked with our military to test the effect of microwaves on military aircraft.

As a member and president of the Albuquerque City Council, I balanced the budget for four years in a row and made sure the city didn't overspend taxpayer money. As the only candidate in this race who has balanced a multimillion-dollar budget and made the tough decisions necessary to get things done for Central New Mexico, I will bring fiscal responsibility to Washington and end eight years of reckless spending.

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans in regard to:

a. The Economy

I will fight for middle-class families in Central New Mexico by helping to strengthen our struggling economy. I support a permanent middle-class tax cut to benefit the hard-working people who are the backbone of our economy, rather than the wealthiest 1 percent of the country.

Our government has a responsibility to stop wasteful spending and put our nation back on track to balancing our nation's budget once again. As an Albuquerque City Councilor, I balanced the city budget for four years straight, and I know firsthand the importance of fiscal responsibility.

b. The Iraq War

Our men and women in uniform have served us honorably in Iraq and done everything we've asked of them. I truly believe that wherever America sends troops, they will be successful in their mission. They have earned the right to come home to their families, and we should immediately begin to bring our troops home.

Americans spend $10 billion a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a $79 billion budget surplus. We need to invest our hard-earned dollars here at home in our schools, infrastructure and our economy, and let Iraq stand on its own two feet.

Just as importantly, when we bring our troops home, I will fight to ensure that our veterans have the services and the care they have earned. Because of mismanagement by the Bush administration, there are an estimated 600,000 claims on backlog at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and veterans are not getting the care they need. This is an outrage, and it is completely unacceptable. No veteran should be denied services because of bureaucratic red tape.

c. Energy

We need a common sense approach to our national energy crisis that will address the price of gasoline and invest in a future free of dependence on foreign oil. To lower prices now, we must crack down on the manipulation of oil prices and open up the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. I also support increasing domestic drilling on a case-by-case basis, as well as expanded use of nuclear energy. Additionally, Congress must extend the wind and solar tax credits so small businesses can invest in these emerging and alternative energy industries.

The long-term goal must be energy independence from foreign oil and fossil fuels. We need to commit our nation to an Apollo Project for Energy Independence, focusing and harnessing our nation's talent on the development of permanent renewable energy. The Apollo Project will bring together the collective energies of government, industry, higher education institutions and think tanks across our nation for the common goal of energy independence.

d. Health Care

Every American deserves to have affordable health care that meets their needs. The soaring cost of health care in this country is a disgrace and puts tremendous burdens on families and businesses alike.

We need to reform the Medicare prescription drug program and focus on making coverage more flexible and affordable for seniors and the disabled. I believe Congress should allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices through bulk purchasing agreements like the Department of Veterans Affairs. This will reduce costs and allow Medicare to provide affordable and continuous coverage for seniors.

I was disappointed and angered last year when President Bush twice vetoed the expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program bill (SCHIP). The legislation had overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress and would have extended health care coverage to an additional 27,900 children in New Mexico. One of the first things I look forward to doing in Congress is helping to pass a SCHIP bill to ensure health care coverage to thousands of New Mexico's children.

Darren White, Republican

District 1

Website: darrenwhiteforcongress.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

I have dedicated my life to public service, first as a member of the 82nd Airborne, then as a street cop in Houston and Albuquerque. I went on to serve as the secretary for the Department of Public Safety and for the last six years as your sheriff. I believe Washington is broken; it has become more about scoring political points than working for the priorities of the people. I have shown that I'm willing to take on members of my party when I believe they are wrong, and I'll be an independent voice in Congress for New Mexico.

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans in regard to:

a) The Economy

In these tough economic times, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on hard-working New Mexico families. I believe low taxes encourages economic growth and creates jobs. I support a comprehensive energy policy that moves our country toward energy independence that will ease the burden on families. Taxpayers should not be punished for the mistakes made on Wall Street and in Washington. I do not support the government bailing out large corporations who made bad decisions and contributed to the economic crisis that we are facing.

b) The Iraq War

As a veteran of the 82nd Airborne, first and foremost, I will never support cutting off funding for our troops in combat. Our brave men and women in uniform must be given the resources they need. Mistakes have been made in this war, and the Iraqi government must be pressured to do more, so our troops can return home safely.

c) Energy

Our country must become more energy independent. Our dependence on foreign oil threatens our economy and our national security. We need a short- and long-term approach to meet our energy demands now and into the future. I support increasing our domestic supply as well as increased faster implementation of alternative energy sources, including solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal and bio-fuels.

d) Health Care

I believe all Americans should have access to affordable health care. I don't support a government-run health care system. Doctors and patients must be in control of health care. I support efforts to make health coverage more affordable for individuals and small businesses by allowing them to band together much like big businesses do today. Health care portability is an important feature of reform so people can keep their coverage when they change jobs. We also need medical liability reform so that medical costs can be contained. We need to solve the uninsured problem, starting with covering all children.

Harry Teague, Democrat

District 2
Includes all of Southern New Mexico

Website: harryforcongress.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

I have the know-how and experience to get our economy moving again. I started working for $1.50 an hour, but from that beginning I built a business that now employs 250 people. On the Lea County Commission, I helped create 3,000 jobs in our formerly economically depressed area. I have also worked in the energy industry my whole life—from the oil fields, to helping to bring wind and solar farms to New Mexico—and I have the experience to help forge a comprehensive solution to our energy crisis.

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans in regard to:

a. The Economy

I believe the three most pressing issues in today's economy are lowering gas prices, creating jobs in rural areas and ensuring fair pay. I will work to address these concerns by investing in alternative energy and expanding domestic oil production to make us energy independent, increasing rural job credits to create more jobs in New Mexico and fighting to make sure the minimum wage keeps up with rising inflation.

b. The Iraq War

Our brave men and women have done all they possibly can in Iraq, and now it is time to let the Iraqis run their own country. I want to bring our troops home with honor and start spending some of the $3 billion we spend in Iraq each week here at home rebuilding schools, roads and taking care of our veterans. We must also refocus our efforts on hunting down the terrorists in Afghanistan.

c. Energy

To solve the energy crisis, we need a congressman who understands the energy industry. I have worked in that industry my entire life—from the oil fields to bringing renewable energy projects to New Mexico. To reduce our dependence on foreign oil and bring down gas prices, we must drill where environmentally sound, invest in alternative energy and conserve.

d. Health Care

At the age of 17, I went to work in the oil fields for $1.50 to provide for my family—I had to because my father and mother became ill and they did not have health insurance. No American should ever have to face the situation I did, and that’s why I will fight in Congress for a system that allows every American to have affordable health coverage.

Edward R. Tinsley, Republican

District 2
Includes all of Southern New Mexico

Website: edtinsleyforcongress.com

Did not respond to questionnaire.

Dan East, Republican

District 3
Includes all of Northern New Mexico

Website: daneast4congress.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

Unlike my opponent, I have practical, operational, business and life experience. I understand, and possess, what it takes to make hard decisions to ensure I am doing what is right for everyone involved. I am strong enough to know when to break away from the party line and vote my conscience when a bill is not good for my district, my state or my country. My opponent has never had to make those hard business decisions that truly effect peoples’ lives. He simply does not have the experience necessary to make such decisions and will not have the strength to do what is right instead of what he is told to do.

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans in regard to:

a. The Economy

I will fight to reinvest our tax dollars into American infrastructure. For every $1 billion spent on infrastructure improvement, 40,000 new jobs are created. Those are jobs that cannot be outsourced; they are good-paying jobs, and they are not contained to construction. They range from manufacturing and retail to farming and ranching. I challenge you to find any industry that does not benefit from having a stronger infrastructure. I will work to pass the Grassley-Baucus Act, which will reinvest $4 billion back into the Highway Trust Fund. That would create 120,000 new jobs nationwide! How can we afford not to do this?

b. The Iraq War

Our oldest son is serving his fifth tour in Iraq. In December, he was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor. The brave men and women serving in Iraq deserve our respect and support. We need to make sure they have a chance to finish the job they started, the job they are so proud of. The surge was a huge success, and we need to maintain our presence in the region until it is stabilized.

c. Energy

The best solution today is to start drilling here at home. Drilling our own oil will increase our domestic supplies, stabilize the price of oil, and put people to work, which in turn boosts the economy. Alternative energy sources are still 20 to 40 years out before they are viable for everyday use, but we need to start looking at alternatives now so we have them in 20 to 40 years. I would encourage our national labs and universities to research those alternatives and then turn them over to the free market for utilization.

d. Health Care

Congress needs to make sure the American people have every opportunity to join a health care program, but they do not need to provide that health care. We also need to cut costs for small business. Small business owners need to have access to association health care plans to negotiate better rates. As a small business owner, I have a front-row seat to the high cost of employee coverage for small businesses. Employees need to have portability in their plans to ensure that when they change jobs or move states, their health care plan follows them. Individuals need to have comprehensive heath savings plans for times when their employer does not provide insurance or if they stop working. Tax credits also need to be in place to encourage people to purchase health care, for themselves and their employees. Half of all uninsured Americans have access and can afford programs, but they opt out. That is not society’s burden, nor should it become society’s burden.

Ben R. Luján, Democrat

District 3
Includes all of Northern New Mexico

Website: benrlujan.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

As an elected commissioner and former chairman of the Public Regulation Commission, I have worked on the important issues facing New Mexico and the issues that will face our next Congress. By building coalitions, I made the Public Regulation Commission a consumer-oriented agency that took on Qwest, increased transparency and held irresponsible corporations accountable. I fought to require utilities to draw 20 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. I worked with my colleagues in Western states to develop the Joint Action Framework on Climate Change to create solutions to global warming. I also worked with the Legislature to close loopholes that allowed health insurance companies to wrongly deny claims.

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans in regard to:

a. The Economy

We need to get our country back on track and make our economy work for the middle class. I will fight for middle class tax relief, tuition assistance for students and fiscal responsibility that reduces the deficit. We control the rising costs of everyday expenses, especially energy and health care. We should require oil companies to use existing leases while moving toward renewable energy that will create jobs in New Mexico. The cost of health care is hurting families and businesses, whether it is rising premiums or burdensome costs for small businesses. We need to provide affordable, accessible health care for all.

b. The Iraq War

We need to bring our troops home safely and responsibly. We have lost more than 4,000 Americans in this misguided war that has cost us more than $500 billion. It's time to bring our troops home. We should begin to redeploy immediately with a goal of a 16-month withdrawal that protects our security interests and ensures our troops have the resources to stay safe. When our soldiers return they must have access to the best health care and education.

c. Energy

Our dependence on foreign oil is hurting our economy. We need a comprehensive approach to our energy crisis that moves us toward energy independence and renewable energy and creates jobs right here in New Mexico. We should require oil companies to use existing leases while moving toward renewable energy to create jobs and end our dependence on foreign oil. We also need to increase fuel efficiency in our cars, create a cap-and-trade system, expand Production Tax Credits for renewable energy and make a transition to a clean energy economy.

d. Health Care

Accessible, affordable health care should be a right for all Americans, but, unfortunately, more than 47 million Americans and 400,000 New Mexicans are uninsured. America pays more for health care than any other nation, but we still leave millions uninsured while millions more pay high prices for even basic care. We should move toward universal health care and start by making sure our children, seniors and veterans have access to affordable care.

Carol Miller, Independent

District 3
Includes all of Northern New Mexico

Website: carolmillercongress.com

1) What experience makes you qualified for this position?

Independent. Experienced. Knows how Congress works and how to work in Congress. Educated. Ready to lead.

Two presidential appointments (Clinton: Health Care; Reagan: Commissioned Officer, U.S. Public Health Service), National Rural Health Association Congressional Liaison. Experienced in writing and passing federal legislation, policy. Nationally recognized expert in health care and community development.

Non-partisan. Honest. Rooted in community:

Acequia Commissioner, Gov. Richardson Appointee to Commission on Higher Education, VISTA volunteer, Peñasco. Founder and leader of organizations and community programs across New Mexico. 

2) Please list specifics on what you will do for New Mexicans.

All issues facing our next representative require the same actions. Listen to people across the district, strategize, study, plan, prioritize, build consensus, mediate, provide leadership, work hard for the district.

a. The Economy

Economic concerns are intertwined and complex. Congress must take back its leadership role from the politically appointed Secretary of Treasury and work to restore confidence in the economy. Congress must repeal the bailout bill, establish and fund a National Affordable Housing trust to manage the mortgage crisis with the goal of keeping people in their homes. Address the impacts of unfair trade agreements and globalization through repealing or re-negotiating bad agreements.

Establish a national workforce policy to reduce outsourcing and job loss. Enact a Renew Deal to invest in public works and infrastructure programs.

b. The Iraq War

The U.S. should leave Iraq within months, not years. The Iraq war and occupation are illegal under international law and have made the U.S. and world less safe. Occupations ultimately fail; no country tolerates being occupied by another. Rebuilding should be led by Iraqis with U.S. and international support. There should be no permanent U.S. bases in Iraq. The Afghanistan war should also be ended. The U.S. must lead diplomacy and international cooperation, not militarism and war.

c. Energy

I have a simple four-point platform for energy that starts with actions that each of us can begin today: 1) Conservation. 2) Efficiency. 3) Phase Out of Current/Transitional Fuels as we move to 4) Fully Renewable energy sources. We cannot wait while science and infrastructure research and development lead to a new green energy economy.

Congress must increase funding for both science education and scientific research. I will assure that New Mexico labs, colleges and universities lead the transition to the new energy economy. The nation must fund public capital investments, business and individual tax incentives to immediately reduce carbon emissions through conservation, increased efficiency, geothermal, wind and solar power.

d. Health Care

I believe that health care is a right requiring both coverage and access. We need to totally transform the health care system to prioritize public health, prevention, wellness programs and primary care. The public consistently identifies Medicare—publicly financed/privately delivered health care with a choice of providers—as the most popular federal program. I support Medicare-for-All to assure coverage. Assuring access will require an immediate and rapid expansion of primary care training and education with reimbursement and other incentives such as scholarships and loan repayment for service in health shortage areas. We must grow the health workforce to guarantee access.

 
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