Nonprofit group promotes state issues

By Tonya Garner: Freedom Newspapers

Representatives from New Mexico First were in Clovis on Thursday to discuss their organization with local businessmen and city officials.

New Mexico First is a statewide non-profit group based in Albuquerque. The 19-year-old nonpartisan organization was formed by Sens. Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman in 1986 to involve more citizens in government. The political action group conducts meetings across the state to address issues of state importance. Topics previously addressed were taxes, energy, water, education, healthcare and federal spending.

“To date, we have convened 33 town halls involving more than 5,000 citizens from throughout the state,” President Barbara Brazil said.

The representatives began their day in Clovis by holding an informal meeting with Mayor David Lansford.

“I am familiar with New Mexico First,” Lansford said. “I fully appreciate what they do and how they do it.” The mayor added that he feels Clovis needs to be more involved in government issues. Lansford said he used the opportunity to discuss groundwater resources.

“No doubt, I would like to see New Mexico First host a town hall in Clovis to discuss water issues,” Lansford said. “I would like to see the people of Clovis come together with many perspectives to discuss issues, challenges, and opportunities concerning water systems.”

Heather Balas, associate director of New Mexico First, is a former Portales resident. She said she believes Clovis and Portales are inextricably linked.

“I would like to see a Town Hall meeting held on economic development for the two towns,” Balas said.

The New Mexico First group continued their trek through Clovis by meeting with representatives from the Clovis Chamber of Commerce, Clovis Industrial Development Corp. and the Rotary Club.

The organization also provides youth leadership training, and with the assistance of the Clovis Rotary Club, included more than 30 students from the Clovis High School-Interact Club in a workshop on the nature and value of civic involvement.

New Mexico First is governed by a board of directors consisting of 33 members from throughout the state. Currently the only local member serving on the board is Sandra Taylor-Sawyer, director of the Clovis Community College Small Business Development Center.

“I would like to see more local participation as far as the board is concerned,” Taylor-Sawyer said. “But it is definitely a commitment.”