Secretary Of State

The Alibi Endorses: No One

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Job Description: Oversees the statewide election process. Maintains lists of registered voters. Evaluates voting machines. Manages campaign finance reports. Second in line of succession for governor.

Term: Four years, limited to two consecutive terms

Salary: $85,000

This is a race where party lines can’t be drawn, and party agendas should be left at the door. The best candidate for this position is one who is a good administrator, who is organized and meticulous about the many details involved in running elections. He or she should provide accurate, concise data to the public about lobbyists and campaign reports. While both candidates have experience running elections and in state politics, the
Alibi cannot endorse either. Here’s why:

Democratic incumbent
Mary Herrera spent two terms as Bernalillo County clerk and then four years as secretary of state. She has experience. She has relevant training and education, including a master’s degree from the College of Santa Fe. Herrera also took a certificate course in program administration for senior executives from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Finally, she initiated and established a more user-friendly campaign finance reporting system.

On the negative side, Herrera’s history as Bernalillo County clerk is speckled with errors, including an usually high number of voting problems in the 2004 presidential election. Past elections under her watch have resulted in missing ballots, duplicate absentee ballots and other glitches. Her four years in the secretary of state position haven’t been any rosier, and neither is her inability to acknowledge problems riddling the office under her management style. Two key employees went to the Federal Bureau of Investigation alleging misconduct in her office. She denies the allegations and insinuates that they were related to the election cycle. A secretary of state should do the job taxpayers pay for, not spend significant time dealing with employer-employee problems. Herrera came across a bit scattered during her interview, but maybe it was just campaign stress.

Though organized, professional and courteous, the
Alibi cannot endorse Republican Sen. Dianna Duran either, based on her agenda.

Duran is a retired county clerk who served for 20 years in a variety of related jobs in Otero County. Since 1992 she has been a state senator representing District 40, which includes Alamogordo and Tularosa, where she was born and raised. While Duran does not have the formal educational background Herrera touts, she learned the election business from the ground up.

Duran says she’d like to implement voter photo identification. But, in the
Alibi’s opinion, requiring residents to go out and obtain another ID will disenfranchise voters—mostly the working poor and middle class.

New Mexico already has relatively low voter registration and turnout, and adding one more level of red tape won’t help. If anything, reform should make it easier for folks to register and vote. Duran also cites the threat of illegal immigrants swaying elections, which the
Alibi simply can’t buy. There is no evidence that a large number of fraudulent votes have been cast in New Mexico elections. Duran seems to believe the Republican party line that immigrants are the source of ills in our society—or that she can get elected by saying so.
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