Garcia Richard comes out swinging after primary win

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By Tris DeRoma

After a hard-fought, three-way primary election for New Mexico Public Lands Commissioner, Tuesday, one would think the winner, Democratic candidate Stephanie Garcia Richard, would take a small break before taking on her general election opponents, Republican Pat Lyons and Libertarian Michael Lucero.

Garcia Richard said the start of the general election season was Wednesday.

“You can’t sit back on your laurels too long,” Garcia Richard said. 

Garcia Richard is currently serving as Democratic representative of District 43.

In the primary for New Mexico land commissioner, Garcia Richard beat her closest opponent Garrett O. VeneKlasen by 3,740 votes, according to the unofficial tally from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office. Garcia Richard received 65,357 voted for Garcia Richard, VeneKlasen received 61,617 votes and George Munoz received 38,584 votes.

Richard already has her sights set on Lyons, who was land commissioner for the state of New Mexico from 2003 until 2011. Lyons is currently Chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and is the district commissioner 2nd District.

Garcia Richard said she would be sure to attack his record during his time as land commissioner.  

If Garcia Richard becomes land commissioner, she plans to go after New Mexico’s oil and gas industry and “hold them to account.” 

“They use our natural resources and I don’t believe they’re paying their fair share. If you look at the pay of our teachers, the state of our classrooms, the fact that we can’t pay for early childhood education, you will see that this true,” said Garcia Richard, who works in the Pojoaque Valley School System as an educator.

She also takes issue with Republicans saying that the Democrats want to raid the state’s permanent fund to pay for their own pet projects and programs. 

Garcia Richard plans include raising the royalties of oil and gas proceeds to pay for early childhood education and other programs.

If elected, she would raise the royalty rate from 18 percent to 25 percent, which is what Texas charges. 

“On the Texas side of the Permian Basin, the very same basin that’s drilled on two sides of two different states, the producers there are actually paying higher royalty rates back to the folks they lease the land from,” Garcia said. “I want to increase our rates to at least 25 percent.” 

Garcia Richard also said she wants to implement methane capture to bring in more revenue.

“We need to diversify the revenue sources into the office as well,” Garcia Richard said. 

Richard is also interested in developing alternative sources of energy on public lands to raise even more funds through the sale and taxation of the kilowatts the energy produces. 

“We’d set up a fee structure similar to the royalty rates we have for barrels of oil,” Garcia Richard said. 

Garcia Richard also noted that the state Legislature has been stopped so far in raising royalty rates. She said she feels the results of the general elections may clear the way for her plans. 

“It’s something we have tried many times without fail, and if you look at the campaign finance reports, you’ll find out why,” Garcia Richard said. “The (oil and gas) industry really has its boot on the throat of the Legislature and the lawmakers, but I’m real confident that we will be electing a majority of folks this November to the state Legislature that will be sympathetic to something like raising royalty rates.” 

Garcia Richard also realizes that in order for proceeds from the fund to be used for early childhood education, there has to be a constitutional amendment. She believes the newly elected state Legislature would be sympathetic to this.

“We’ve got kids that come to the classroom door that are already behind, because they haven’t had that early support,” Garcia Richard said. “I’m talking about home visiting, quality childcare, Head Start to pre-k, a whole suite of services around early childhood education.”

To find out more about Stephanie Garcia Richard’s campaign, visit stephaniegarciarichard.com.

To find out more about Pat Lyons, log onto lyons4land.com. To find out more about Michael Lucero, email adunnfornm@gmail.com