By Sharna Johnson and Karl Terry, Freedom New Mexico
Lt. Gov. Diane Denish visited Portales and Clovis on Wednesday as part of her “Roundhouse on the Road” tour of New Mexico.
Utilizing a tour bus that serves as mobile office, Denish met with residents in front of the Memorial Building.
She was asked by Freedom Newspapers to comment on several topics:
On the tour:
It started out yesterday (Tuesday) in Santa Rosa (with) a lot of concerns about health care and health care facilities — they need a new hospital.
Fort Sumner is of course concerned about being able to get to and from their health care.
And Melrose wants to have a health clinic so there was a lot of concern about health clinics.
There were a couple of issues that rose to the top while we were in Portales. Continued road maintenance and who would it would funded by was a big issue. We also heard from people concerned about retiree health care.
We also heard concerns about the Motor Vehicle Division. We stopped by that office before we left town and told them about the concerns and learned about their problems and needs.
Uses for the surplus state tax revenue:
We heard from some people who didn’t want to receive a tax rebate. They were mostly seniors and they said they felt like we should invest it in something for the common good.
I think giving some back to the taxpayers (would be good). I’m especially in support of the governor’s proposal to finish out of some of the roads and that’s been an issue here about road improvements. Some of that’s just about finishing and completing and paving some roads in some areas.
I think (we should plan) for the future at the same time as we give some of the money back through the rebates.
Gov. Bill Richardson’s suggestion to have a tax free period between Thanksgiving and Christmas:
I would support that and I think it would be good for the economy and get people to shop locally … I think we’re going to need it this year because we need to pump a little energy into the economy so maybe people will get out there and spend that little bit of money that they’re saving on paying gross receipts tax on products and retail things.
On speculation about presidential candidate Barack Obama recruiting Gov. Richardson:
Well I really haven’t spent a lot of time (thinking about it) because the key word here is speculation.
I’m continuing to work in whatever position I’m in on improving the link between education and workforce development, on improving health care coverage in New Mexico and on making sure that we have the infrastructure we need to connect our communities. And on making sure people have access to quality health care and affordable coverage for them.
We have some big challenges ahead … I’m fully prepared if the governor were to leave tomorrow for some reason, I’m prepared to step in. I’m ready to do it and I look forward to the opportunity when and if it presents itself, immediately or in the future.
Thoughts on running for governor in 2010:
It’s a little early to be talking about that but I feel I’m well prepared to do that. I certainly wouldn’t run for any position other than governor.
Thoughts on Portales:
Your mayor took us on a tour and we met several of the people working on the downtown revitalization. I was just really pleased to see the way things are happening downtown. Frankly, I felt like there was a lot of positive energy about the plans there.