It’s that time again. Early voting has now started in New Mexico and one of the positions up for grabs is the Governor’s office. I’ve heard several people ask why we should bother to vote to re-elect Governor Susana Martinez. After all, she hasn’t been perfect in her job. Of course, I’ve never seen anyone who is, no matter what that may do, but I do get the point and it is valid. Now, I don’t presume to tell anyone who to vote for, but I can share why I’ll be casting my vote for Governor Martinez, so forgive me while I engage in a tiny bit of narcissism here. You see, I’m not completely happy with her, but it see politics as a balancing act: Does the good outweigh the bad or vice-versa?
For me, I am very disappointed in Governor Martinez for her support of Common Core. This is a program that threatens to exponentially accelerate the dumbing down of Americans that has been going on for decades, at the very least. Common Core will not make learning easier or advance our students’ educations; it’ll do exactly the opposite and, for some reason, Governor Martinez seems to have stars in her eyes when it comes to this program. Maybe it’s because of the close relationships she’s built with Republicans like Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, which I’m also not happy about. I wish she’d open her eyes to the dangers of Common Core and how her association with these milquetoast Republicans have muddied her image and identity as a strong conservative woman who stands on conservative principles, no matter what…the identity that won her the endorsement of Sarah Palin and a massive victory over Allen Weh four years ago. Before running for Governor, she served as District Attorney in my hometown and I knew her here in Las Cruces as fair and level-headed and I honestly believe that she does have an open mind that can be swayed on this issue.
That’s what I’ve seen as negatives in Susana Martinez and, if that was all there was, there is absolutely no way she would be getting my vote. Of course, like I said, it’s a balancing act. As far as the good she’s done as Governor:
While her current support of Common Core is a huge no-no, Governor Martinez has made improvements here for New Mexico. Since she took office, New Mexico has moved up to #1 in the nation for improving high school graduation rates. Those rates have jumped from 63% to 70%…still not as good as we need, but a huge jump from what we’ve had in our recent past, especially under Democrat governors. She has increased education spending, but, at the same time, cut funding for the education bureaucracy by 25%. In other words, she’s been trying to put money for education where it belongs: in actual education, not in more red tape and bigger government. While I don’t support the democrats’ approach of throwing more money at education, Martinez’s approach is more surgical; focusing and addressing the areas in need and cutting back from the areas of waste and abuse. Governor Martinez has focused on improving reading proficiency and increasing early education programs as well. I have to give credit where credit is due. We just have to continue to push the message: Governor, turn your back on Common Core.
From the second year that Governor Martinez has been in office, not only have we had a balanced budget, we have also had a budget surplus every year. George Washington University currently ranks New Mexico as 7th in the nation in budget health. She also sold the state’s luxury jet and several other state planes in order to cut some of the abuse and extravagant expenses regularly racked up by previous governors. In addition, she got rid of the personal chefs at the Governor’s residence and lowered and capped the salaries of her cabinet secretaries. She also consolidated office space and re-negotiated leases for state buildings, saving taxpayers over a million dollars per year.
In 2010, New Mexico’s tax structure was rated as one of the least business-friendly in America. Governor Martinez changed that. She cut the business tax rate by 22 percent. She reduced taxes on New Mexicans 24 times. The Council On State Taxation has raised New Mexico’s grade on tax administration from a D to a B. New Mexico has also moved from 38th in the country in export growth to #1 by 2012. Our exports to Mexico are now at an all-time high. Six thousand new jobs have been created (Department of Labor numbers) just from that and many other jobs have been created due to the businesses that have been drawn in by the more relaxed tax rates.
In addition, Governor Martinez established a lifetime ban on government contractors convicted of corruption and she signed legislation allowing judges to seize pensions of elected officials convicted of corruption. She directed Her staff to film legislative committee hearings, legislative floor sessions, and other meetings and post the videos online and she signed legislation requiring agendas for public meetings to be made available 72 hours in advance and displayed online. She signed legislation that requires public records to be available in electronic format and posted salary information for all taxpayer-funded employees online. She’s the first Governor to use state email and posts her official calendar online and require all administration personnel to use state email when conducting public business.
Governor Martinez helped pass an enhanced Katie’s Law that requires all those arrested for felonies to provide a DNA sample to be used to solve cold rape and murder cases. She vetoed a measure that would have allowed criminal records to be expunged and she eliminated the “Sanctuary State” policy that prohibited law enforcement from determining the immigration status of those arrested for crimes. She vetoed legislation that would have allowed child killers to avoid life sentences. She created the Fugitive Apprehension Team which captured 70 fugitives in the first two months alone and launched the #SAFE reporting hotline so that any New Mexican can easily report child abuse. She signed legislation enacting some of the toughest sex offender registration requirements in the country.
Governor Martinez opposes expanding Obamacare. She supports our 2nd amendment rights. She opposes higher taxes. She opposes pathways to citizenship for illegal aliens. She opposes unrestricted access to and federal funding of abortions.
So, for me, the good that Governor Martinez has done and that she is still capable of is more than enough to justify giving her my vote in this election. Add to that the fact that I see absolutely nothing good coming were Gary King to win (just higher levels of ineptitude and probably a resurgence of corruption), I have no problem casting my vote for Governor Martinez. I will also say that I’m very excited at the prospect of current Lieutenant Governor John Sanchez running for Governor next election. He’s incredibly impressive and has so far proven that he’s willing to stand on his principles fearlessly.
With all that said, while I’d love to see Susana Martinez re-elected, I can only talk about why I’m voting the way I am. I hope that anyone who isn’t sure or is thinking about not voting for her will consider what I’ve had to say, but, at the end of the day, each one of our votes is sacred and no one has the right to tell you how you must vote. All I can really say is this: Do not take the power of your vote lightly. Every single vote really can make a difference and we do have a responsibility to use our vote responsibly. When you have that ballot in your hand, the best any of us can do is to follow our hearts, our convictions and our principles. Do that, and, no matter which circles you choose to darken or leave empty, you’ve upheld the principles our nation was built on and fulfilled your duty as a citizen.