By Karl Terry: PNT Managing Editor
Eastern New Mexico University students and faculty got the opportunity to quiz U.S. Senate candidate Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., on her positions at a Q & A session sponsored by the student senate Monday.
Wilson listed for the crowd of close to 100 that packed the Pecos Room at the Campus Union Building her main campaign issues as defense of the nation, the economy, tax relief and border security.
She also complimented Eastern on the student turnout, saying it was important that students be involved.
“One of the things that concerns me is so few people under the age of 25 gets involved,” Wilson said. “Politics is not a spectator sport. Successive generations of Americans have to choose to continue in this experiment (democracy) … choose to become involved.”
After Wilson opened the meeting up for questions she was immediately challenged by a student on her views in supporting the Patriot Act.
Wilson said she supported the legislation in order to give law enforcement more tools to fight terrorism. She said the act simply gave law enforcement the ability to go after terrorists in the same way law enforcement goes after domestic criminals with warrants.
“I don’t see why we should extend more protection under the law to a terrorist than we do members of the mob,” Wilson said.
When asked about making the nation more energy independent, Wilson said she supported more exploration at home and also recently supported increased fuel economy standards for automobiles. She also said she supported new technologies such as biofuels, hydrogen vehicles and the next generation of nuclear reactors.
“We don’t have to choose between the energy we need and the land we love,” Wilson said. “We can explore responsibly.”
Gene Smith, dean of the college of business at ENMU asked Wilson, “What does conservative mean to you?”
Wilson replied that she was what she likes to refer to as a “common-sense conservative”
“I trust people much more than I trust government,” Wilson said. “I believe wealth comes through enterprise not government.”
She said as a young person she registered as a Democrat, mostly because the politician who recommended her to a military academy was a Democrat. She says after she examined things more closely she decided that Republicans matched her view of national security better and switched at an early age.
Wilson also fielded questions on renewable energy, nuclear power, the No Child Left Behind Act and Social Security in the hour-long session.
“It was a good turnout and I was surprised by how many people my age were there,” ENMU junior Erin Griffith said. “Young people need to be involved in politics.”
Michelle Miller, a member of the ENMU Student Senate who helped organize the event said she too was impressed with the crowd.
“It means, hopefully, people will get involved,” Miller said.