Wilson talks water, economic development in Clovis

By Sarah Meyer: Freedom Newspapers

U.S. Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., visited Clovis on Tuesday on her campaign trail for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Pete Domenici.

Domenici will retire when his term ends this year. Wilson has served for nearly 10 years as District 1 representative. The district includes Albuquerque, Torrance County and parts of Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe counties.

“I believe New Mexico needs to send a commonsense conservative to the Senate,” Wilson said in an interview. “We need somebody who will stand up and fight for our (military) bases and national labs, for the contribution New Mexico makes for national security.”
Here’s what she had to say on the following topics:

Cannon Air Force Base: “I opposed the Base Realignment and Closure effort to mothball Cannon Air Force Base and was successful in getting a new mission. … A U.S. Senator has to stand up for New Mexico.” For the future, we need to:

• Market CAFB and New Mexico
• Keep the base in good shape
• Keep its mission strong

Ute Water Project: Sens. Domenici and Jeff Bingaman are working on an authorization bill. “But that’s only the first step,” she said. “Funding is huge. That will be the difficult part. … Engineering studies show the Ute Water Project is the best option for future water supplies.”

Water conservation: “Water is the life-blood of rural areas. It will determine what kind of jobs we will have in the future. We need to make sure we’re getting the most out of what we use and look for long-term solutions.” One example is Clovis’ plans for water reuse, which would recycle waste water and use it for watering parks.

Economic development: “Economic development can’t be imposed from outside. It works best when communities address their strengths and build on them.” One of the strengths of eastern New Mexico is agriculture and “added value” products, such as dairies and milk-processing plants, Wilson said. She anticipates an increased demand for ethanol production in the next several years, but would like to see less use of food crops for ethanol production.

“Any senator needs a single person working on rural economic development. You need to work with people who are living there and build on what they have.”

Dairies: “The dairy industry has grown tremendously and it’s very efficient. It’s a big part of the economy. I’m glad to see they’re not just exporting raw milk.” Another asset for Clovis is its proximity to the railroad, for transportation of dairy products.

War in Iraq: “We need to protect America’s vital interests. We need to make sure Iraq does not become a safe haven for Al-Qaida, and we’re making progress on that. We need to make sure it’s not a source of instability in the region.” Wilson said she told President George Bush that an increase in troops would not be effective without a change in strategy. Changes were made and progress is being made, but “we still have a long way to go.”