Montoya campaigns for secretary of state

Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico

Letitia Montoya, 43, is a candidate for the Democratic nominee for New Mexico secretary of state in the June 6 primary election.

The secretary of state is the third-highest state official, after the governor and lieutenant governor, and fills in for them when they are out of state. New Mexico’s chief elections officer, the secretary of state registers the state’s notaries, handles the state’s seal, and presides over the House of Representatives at the start of each legislative session until a new Speaker of the House is elected, according to the secretary of state Web site.

Rebecca Vigil-Giron, the incumbent, is completing her second term in office and is not seeking re-election because of term limits, according to her office.

Montoya is chief operations officer of Assure Financial Group in Santa Fe, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.

This is her second time running for the office, after earning 34 percent of the vote in 1996, she said. She holds a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, and a master’s degree in education from the College of Santa Fe.

Montoya spoke with Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico about her run for office:

Q: When and why did you decide to run for secretary of state?

A: I decided a year and a half ago because I want to take the office in a different direction to make sure our votes really count. It’s time for a change, a new vision and new ideas to ensure our votes are counted.

Q: What is this new vision? What would you do if you are elected?

A: I would hire a grant writer to find funding to help counties pay for unfunded mandates that politicians approve. I want to make sure voting machines correctly register votes, and I would send mobile van units to voters who live in rural areas and can’t easily get to the polls. I would eliminate provisional ballots with election-day registration.

Q: Do you support paper ballots, as Gov. Bill Richardson does?

A: Yes. The governor backs paper balloting and signed it into law. New Mexico is having problems with voting machines and the software, and voters are left wondering if their vote counts. The software has resulted in under-voting, where 10 of 100 votes aren’t being counted.

Q: Do you think government is open and transparent right now for the public?

A: People are disenchanted with government. We have to bring politics back to the people.

Q: How will your experience working with investments make you an effective secretary of state?

A: I worked to get where I am. I’ll do as much for the secretary of state’s office, as I’ve done in business, and I’ll work hard for the voters to serve them.

Q: Do you think felons should be allowed to vote?

A: Yes. If they’re not murderers or sexual predators, and they’ve done their time, they should be allowed to be a part of the system. They should be given a second chance.

Fast Facts:
•Rebecca Vigil-Goron is the current secretary of state.
•Three other Democrats are running for their party’s nomination, according to the secretary of state Web site: Mary Herrera, Stephanie Gonzales and Shirley Hooper. Vickie Perea is running unopposed for the Republican Party nomination.