Gubernatorial hopeful speaks on issues

Sen. Howie Morales

Sen. Howie Morales

State Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City is a candidate in this year’s gubernatorial race. He is one of five Democrats seeking the highest political position in New Mexico.
The other Democrats Morales faces in the June primary are Gary King, Lawrence Rael, Linda Lopez and Alan Webber.
A state senator since 2008, Morales visited the Clovis News Journal on Friday to discuss several issues concerning New Mexicans.

You have several degrees in education, including a PhD in curriculum and instruction from New Mexico State University. You have also served as an educator. What has this experience taught you about the needs of the state’s educational system?
Education is going to be probably the biggest issue we’ll be dealing with in this campaign … what my experiences have helped me do, is to not only see the harmful effects of the Martinez/ Skandera policies, but also to (be able to) give a blueprint of the New Mexico educational system that we can develop and call our very own … that will respect the educator and educate the whole child, mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and socially.

How has your time on the Rural Economic Development Committee helped you understand the economic challenges facing eastern New Mexico?
When New Mexico is continually losing jobs, while states around us are rebounding, it shows that what we currently have in place is clearly not working. We need to position ourselves in this state (in such a way) that will make us lucrative in attracting businesses, (such as by) improving our infrastructure, our broadband and to address our water supply.

Your campaign website states that by 2040, Albuquerque may have as many people as Memphis; Las Cruces, as many people as Toledo. Do you believe eastern New Mexico will also grow, and how can we improve our access to water to accommodate such growth?
Water is going to be at the center … of the infrastructure discussion. I’m proposing that we bring in all stakeholders to a water summit and develop a statewide comprehensive water plan. In addition, we need to value and respect what aquifers mean to our state, as well as to look into potential technologies to be a national leader in the desalination of salty water.

You’ve stated in your campaign that you would call in leading veterans from around the state every year to contribute to the creation of the state budget. Why do you feel New Mexico’s relationship with its veterans is important, and would active duty military be included in these discussions as well?
My father’s a Vietnam veteran. I see the many challenges that vets face, whether it’s access to health care, or obtaining the benefits they truly deserve. … As a state senator, a majority of my constituent cases deal with veterans issues. The amount of delay that is in place just to be able to get answers or assistance is unnecessary. We’ll have to work with the federal government to show New Mexico’s pride and commitment to our veteran services.

What do you feel are the major challenges facing New Mexico ranchers and farmers, and how would your administration help them meet these challenges?
Ranching and farming is a part of our culture and the traditions in our state. Obviously, water … discussion is going to have an impact. We want to provide those necessary resources. We also believe there is a potential to reduce our reliance on the amount of imports we bring in, and through the use of farming our own products, utilize them within our state.

— Compiled by staff writer Vanessa Kahin

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