The Taos News

Yeargin pitches revenue ideas as commission candidate

- Jerry Yeargin Jerry (Gerald G.) Yeargin is a resident in District 5.

About my background: I am 68, divorced, with two sons who are living elsewhere. I am a high school graduate with two years of college concentrat­ing in public speaking and psychology. I purchased my property in 1972 and moved to the Taos area permanentl­y in 1976.

I have worked in various trades, including food service and constructi­on. My work experience includes crafting fine art edition works designed and signed by renowned artists including R.C. Gorman, Charles Collins and Amado Peña Jr. I have also produced and sold my own painted drums.

As a building contractor, I have had the responsibi­lity of making payrolls and payroll taxes. I understand the challenges of small businesses in Taos County. I will work to bring environmen­tally sustainabl­e businesses to Taos.

One supporter called me a “wild card.” Well, a wild card can be whatever you need it to be to win the game. If elected, I am adaptable enough to get along with the other commission­ers and protect the interests of Taos residents in a rapidly changing world, whatever that takes.

I have been a political activist since 2007. I was inspired by Barack Obama and campaigned for him.

These days, Democrats are fired up again to stand for change. I believe the core of progressiv­e activism is taking a public stand to speak out for what is right, and I have strived to do that. I will be a voice for women’s rights, safer schools, immigrants, the disadvanta­ged and the environmen­t.

My work for environmen­tal justice has focused on the Río Fernando headwaters in upper Taos Canyon, where I have lived since 1991. Since 1998, I have advocated for reasonable changes that would benefit rangeland grazing on public land in Taos Canyon while protecting the stream banks from impacts that have contribute­d to the impairment of this river.

The Forest Service can and should adopt new practices that would restore water quality and historic levels of surface flows to Taos acequias, without reducing livestock numbers. The Taos County government has the authority to require the Forest Service to make those improvemen­ts but, so far, the commission­ers have not had the political will to do it.

I hope to change that. At the same time, I am committed to representi­ng the needs of livestock owners in Peñasco and Taos County and protecting their way of life.

Recently, I have taken on the challenge of finding ways to raise taxes and fees on large corporatio­ns doing business in Taos County. I think it is time for high-volume commercial operations in Taos to start paying their fair share for the costs of community resources, such as law enforcemen­t, water and infrastruc­ture. Most voters these days want their representa­tives to pass laws that would raise taxes on large corporatio­ns and the wealthy.

For example, the state fuels tax should be amended to add new carbon taxes with generous rebates to individual consumers. In effect, that would mean large companies will be paying a bigger share of county revenues than local residents. Also, a surcharge should be imposed on the aviation fuel used for jets operated by the super-rich at the Taos airport. Those jets contribute to climate change.

Taos County should charge fees on short-term rentals, as the town of Taos does, to help pay for more affordable housing. And commission­ers should demand that legislator­s pass a bill for home rule status for Taos, so we can have a local living wage law. These two simple changes would be a big help to working families coping with the tight housing market in Taos.

On property taxes, I believe head-of-household and agricultur­al exemptions should be increased to safeguard homeowners and growers from higher property taxes. Then, taxes on nonexempt property could go up by 3 mils without hurting local families. These changes would result in higher property tax bills for wealthy out-of-town owners than for residents, and that money should be added to the county budget. This should not be a revenue-neutral change, such as the reassessme­nts on agricultur­al land that have hurt many property owners without helping county finances.

There are about 6,000 unique and blessed individual­s and families in District 5. If elected, I promise to work for each person humbly and honestly, with fear or favor toward none and respect for all. You can contact me at (575)7583327. I am also on Facebook. Thank you for considerin­g me for your commission­er.

The Forest Service can and should adopt new practices that would restore water quality and historic levels of surface flows to Taos acequias, without reducing livestock numbers.

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