Los Lunas

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Richardson said he is concerned about how the state government treats its employees, especially in the State Corrections Department.

“When I’m elected governor, you are going to be treated with respect, dignity and as a member of my family,” he told the corrections officers gathered at the Valencia County Detention Center when he spoke with employees of the various correctional facilities while on the campaign trail around the county on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

“I see you as part of our plans to restore and rebuild our state. Right now we are a divided state. Gov. Johnson has vetoed 800 bills while in office, that is the reason Sen. Michael Sanchez’s bills did not get through. They were vetoed,” Richardson said.

He assured the corrections officers that he is for collective bargaining, 20-year retirement and getting a salary increase. “I want us to talk about how we can do this in a responsible way,” he said.

Beside attending a reception at the Valencia County Detention Center, Richardson toured Sud-Chemie, Avonite and Sisneros Brothers manufacturing plants, and visited the University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus.

While at the factories, Richardson told the employees he wants to double the in-plant training fund and promote economic development once he gets in office.

The three key issues of his campaign are improving public education, building a higher-wage economy and completing a state water plan.

“There is so much to be done, but we can lick these problems,” Richardson told the audience.

“We need to get more money into the classrooms and less into administration,” he said. “We need to pay our teachers more while they provide accountable, quality education for our children.”

Regarding building a higher-wage economy, Richardson said the state needs to attract jobs by making New Mexico more business-friendly with responsible tax cuts on personal income taxes and a tax code that attracts businesses and helps existing firms.

“We need to focus on rural economic development, not just Albuquerque, Santa Fe and the Rio Grande corridor,” he said. “One way to attract businesses is by training the people for the higher-paying jobs. I want to have the schools and the university campus work together to provide that training.”

While Richardson said he is for economic development, he wants to preserve the life of the farmer and agriculture community. “We want to have balanced growth and better jobs but protect the way of life we cherish. We need to respect our history as we make decisions.”

With the population growing and the competition for water increasing, Richardson said, it is critical that the state develop a water plan.

“I want to protect private property rights, the rights of the land grants and acequias. I think that we need strong water conservation policies, a strong process of creating water courts and programs to restore the water shed,” he said. “We have to upgrade the computer system and its data in the state water engineer’s office so that good decisions can be made.”

In other issues affecting Valencia County, Richardson said:

  • He has been very interested in the potential of alternative forms of transportation, such as mass transit in the Rio Grande corridor. “I think we need to be more efficient in the way we travel,” he said. “I have been particularly interested in the potential route that would go from Socorro to Albuquerque, going through Valencia County.”
  • Regarding a hospital or emergency medical facility in the county, he said, “I have found this county does need more funds because the population here is very diverse financially. I’m going to find ways to help the Department of Human Services look at Valencia County and try to help them with more funds.”
  • “I like the idea of a National Cemetery being located in Valencia County,” he said. “It strikes me that this county would be a good site because of its rural nature and the long tradition of veterans coming from this county, including Daniel Fernandez, who heroically gave his life during the Vietnam War. It is a federal decision regarding the location of the cemetery, but the state would have some input. I want to make sure that Valencia County is on the list to be considered.”
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Jane Moorman