Journal picks for Lt. Gov., auditor and land commissioner
These are the Journal’s recommendations in contested statewide races for lieutenant governor, state auditor and commissioner of public lands in the June 5 primary.
For complete election coverage, including previous endorsements, profiles and candidate questionnaires, go to abqjournal.com and click on the Voter Guide tab. Lieutenant Governor Rick Miera — Democrat
Rick Miera has been a dedicated public servant for decades, having served as a state representative for 24 years. As a lawmaker, he chaired the House Education and Labor and Human Resources committees, and he co-chaired the Legislative Education Study Committee. He has also been a therapist, drug counselor and behavioral health advocate for more than 40 years. He’s pledging to use that extensive experience to advocate for public education and access to mental health services.
The lieutenant governor has several key responsibilities. The individual holding the post serves as president of the state Senate and steps in as acting governor when the governor is out of state. But the lieutenant governor is also required to serve as New Mexico’s ombudsman, essentially the person who advocates for individuals having trouble with another state agency. Miera is eager for the opportunity to be a “strong voice of reason to help make our state government more responsive to the people of New Mexico.” He promises to work hard to provide constituent services to people throughout the state.
“People do not feel they’re being listened to,” he told the Journal’s editorial board. “People need to be listened to and feel that their problems are being addressed.”
Miera is facing two opponents in the primary. If he prevails, he will face Republican Michelle Garcia Holmes in the November general election.
The Journal endorses Rick Miera for lieutenant governor in the Democratic primary.
State Auditor Brian Colón — Democrat
He’s never held public office, but Brian Colón’s education, experience and drive make him a good choice for state auditor. Perhaps more importantly, he understands the important watchdog role the office plays in ferreting out waste, fraud and abuse.
Colón, an attorney, earned a finance degree from New Mexico State University and a law degree from the University of New Mexico’s School of Law. He has demonstrated deep commitment to our state through his lengthy list of volunteer work, ranging from Big Brothers Big Sisters to the KiMo Theater Advisory Board.
Colón says he wants to build on the impressive foundation built by former state auditors Tim Keller and Hector Balderas. That includes such projects as a transparency report on how much taxpayers have forked out on contract buyouts. But he’s also practical, realizing it’s critical the office maintains its core mission of ensuring accountability for every state and local government agency in New Mexico. Colón has one opponent in the primary. If he prevails, he will face Republican Wayne Johnson, who currently holds the position, in the general election.
The Journal endorses Brian Colón for state auditor in the Democratic primary.
Commissioner of Public Lands George Muñoz — Democrat
It’s a vital position that oversees 14,000 square miles of state trust lands, leveraging those resources to generate millions of dollars for public schools and other beneficiaries each year.
George Muñoz is a Gallup businessman, general contractor, real estate developer, farmer and rancher who has served in the state Legislature for 10 years, playing a key role in such critical legislation as pension reform. If elected land commissioner, he says, he would work aggressively to expand renewable energy projects, and with the Legislature to create a coherent energy policy that leverages wind, solar, and transmission and energy storage to create new revenue streams for the state. Muñoz says New Mexico can stabilize its education funding and invest more in early childhood education with the expansion of renewables.
“We have the land — we have the wind, and we have the sun; what we don’t have is the leadership to make New Mexico the renewable capital of the country,” he says.
Muñoz is facing two opponents in the primary. The winner will face Republican Patrick Lyons, a member of the Public Regulation Commission and former land commissioner, and Libertarian Michael Lucero, a rancher, in the general election. The Journal endorses George Muñoz for commissioner of public lands in the Democratic primary.
Early voting begins May 19 for the June 5 primary. In Bernalillo County, voting convenience centers will be open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through June 2. For a complete list of sites, go to bernco.gov