The campaign trail for lieutenant governor found its way to the county courthouse Tuesday as Democratic candidate Diane Denish made her way through most of the county offices.
If elected, Denish, 53, would be the state’s first woman lieutenant governor. The former chairperson of the Democratic Party of New Mexico from 1999 to 2001 says she favors “strong public schools, better pay for teachers, access to health care for children, the environment and an increase in the state’s minimum wage.”
During her tour of the courthouse, Denish managed to shake hands with just about everybody, as the Albuquerque resident asked them for their votes. At the end of the tour, she spent some time in Sheriff Juan Julian’s office, where she talked politics.
Denish, who holds a degree in political science from the University of New Mexico, told Julian about her campaign swing through Deming and Lordsburg. She enjoyed a steak lunch before the Lordsburg fair, where she recalled meeting “just about everybody there.”
Julian filled Denish in on the election and about the two sheriff candidates, Democrat Gary Hall and Republican Richard Perea, who both work under Julian now.
In an interview about campaign issues, Denish, who was born and raised in Hobbs, talked about how her running mate, Bill Richardson, bidding to become the next governor, wants to reform taxes.
“How do we get some of the tax reforms down for job growth?” Denish asked.
Finding ways to improve the life of New Mexico children in school and health care is extremely important, Denish said. She is now a member of the board of directors of the Daniels Fund, which provides scholarship- and grant-making programs in New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
In education, Denish wants to see a full day of kindergarten expanded to every public school.
“I think that’s the biggest thing to kick-start their schooling,” Denish said.
In health care, Denish said she has been working with a statewide group of pediatricians to keep as many children as possible insured. She said she would like to see a children’s advisory board, headed by the lieutenant governor, that would advise the governor on children’s issues.
Focus on a literary program that would have everyone reading by third grade is another objective that Denish backs.
“A lot of things we want to do are already in place,” Denish said. “It really doesn’t call for a lot of new money.”
Denish said she would also like to focus on small-business growth for women but said that would also benefit men. While visiting Belen Tuesday, Herman Tabet, chairman of the county planning and zoning commission, gave Denish a complete tour of the new Holiday Inn Express being built off Interstate 25 at the Camino del Llano Exit.
In the same area, Denish also toured Sisneros Brothers, which makes metal ducting.
“I was impressed with Sisneros Brothers,” Denish said. “Not only do they provide health insurance, but they provide profit-sharing.”
If elected, Denish thinks Richardson, as governor, would be able to bring new jobs to Valencia County and other counties through tax incentives.
“You have to provide tax incentives to bring businesses to the counties,” Denish said. “The present governor has not been a champion to bring jobs to the specific counties.”
Denish and Richardson are hoping they will be the ones to bring future jobs to New Mexico, after November’s election.