House candidates square off

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Teacher driving for change challenges experienced incumbent

By Carol A. Clark

The general election is just 26 days away and the two candidates running in House District 43 met in front of Los Alamos audiences for the last time Tuesday.
Nine-time Republican incumbent Jeannette Wallace and Democratic newcomer Stephanie Richard participated in the League of Women Voter’s of Los Alamos and the American Association of University Women cosponsored forum at Fuller Lodge.
Questions from the audience ran the gamut from same-day voter registration to Medicaid.
“Medicaid is one of our biggest problems…the federal government is paying a 3-1 match but we need to look at a lot of issues under Medicaid,” Wallace said.
Wallace spoke against the controversial same-day voter registration issue saying that there are a multitude of opportunities for people to register from county fairs to grocery stores if they really want to vote.
Richard said that while she understands the concern for the possibility of voter fraud, she would support removing any barrier to a person’s right to vote.
Unemployment was another topic raised at the forum. New Mexico is lagging slightly behind in the unemployment numbers, Wallace said, adding that while the state’s economic development department is working on the issue and Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories are helping as well, “we need to support our small businesses.”
“Small business can’t grow alone…I would advocate technical training…loans for entrepreneurs…a public-private partnership,” Richard said.
House District 43 boundaries were discussed.
“If you look at our districts, they don’t make sense,” Richard said. “I may not share the same state senator with my neighbor who lives across the street, but census numbers probably won’t show enough growth to redistrict.”
Richard advocates creating a funding formula to encourage solar energy for homes that actually goes with the home when it sells.
“Unfortunately, my opponent did vote against solar energy incentives for homes and that is a difference in she and I,” Richard said.
“I support solar energy but we have a problem with transmission and storage,” Wallace said.
Richard said to even the playing field she would close the legislative loophole that exempts corporations operating in New Mexico with headquarters elsewhere from paying state income tax.
Wallace said the issue should be examined because some say changing the tax law would drive corporations out of New Mexico. The funding formula for school districts has been a threat looming over Los Alamos Public Schools because it could mean a disastrous cut in state funding.
“I support the funding formula but would advocate that Los Alamos be held harmless in perpetuity because as written, we are one of the few communities that would lose its funding,” Richard said.
Wallace agreed. She also spoke in favor of the Right to Work Bill. Richard spoke in favor of unions and listed the many privileges workers enjoy today because of union efforts.
“In the workplace – we still need someone to look out for us,” she said.
In closing Wallace said, “What people stand for is far more important than politics.”
Richard told the audience that she loves Los Alamos. “You are a different breed and that’s why I love to come to your doors … if we maintain the status quo we won’t move ahead and that is why I’m asking for your vote.”
Coverage of the Magistrate Court judge race and brief presentations by unopposed candidates for county assessor and Municipal Court judge at the Tuesday forum will be featured in Friday’s edition of the Los Alamos Monitor.