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Pete Sheehey running for 43rd District representative seat in 2018

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By The Staff

Los Alamos County Councilor Pete Sheehey, a Democrat, is seeking to replace Rep. Stephanie Garcia in District 43, he announced Tuesday.

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A former Los Alamos National Laboratory applied scientist, Sheehey said he could add another perspective to the state Legislature.

“I think I can offer some skills that I think are complementary to a lot of what exists in the Legislature today,” Sheehey said. “Attorneys, teachers, some business people… but not too many applied scientists. Facts and sound science have to be the basis of good policy. I can bring that perspective.”

Sheehey is the first candidate to enter the race to replace Garcia, who announced last month her campaign to run for New Mexico State Land Commissioner.

Sheehey’s campaign platform includes getting more support for public education, nurturing economic development within the county, universal healthcare, preserving the environment, campaign finance reform and supporting efforts for renewable energy.

Sheehey said he will be just as careful in the state House of Representatives with the people’s money as he was on council.

“I never voted in the council to raise taxes,” Sheehey said.

Sheehey said he plans on maintaining contact with his constituents, and is looking forward to “wearing out shoe leather” knocking on doors to get people’s opinions on the issues.

He said he’d only vote for taxes he thought the people would accept.

“Now, I’m not like our governor, who said ‘no new taxes ever,’” Sheehey said. “When there is a tax that meets a direct need, people can see that these taxes people are paying will go to an important need, I’ll support that. I certainly prefer to put these questions to the voters.”

Sheehey also doesn’t believe progressive means expensive.

“I think many so-called progressive issues such as renewable energy and healthcare, if you do them right, you can actually save money,” Sheehey said.

“When the United States spends a good 18 percent of its gross national product on healthcare and we still have millions that are uninsured, millions of people that have insurance that really doesn’t meet all of their needs, and those countries in Europe spending 10 percent of their gross national product covering everybody that’s better than we get, then clearly we’re doing something wrong.”

Sheehey would support state programs that support universal healthcare.

“The state, in fact can take some steps as well in that direction,” Sheehey said.

Sheehey talked of bills in the Legislature that would allow people enrolled in the Affordable Care Act to buy into the Medicaid system.

“They would pay what it’s costing Medicaid to cover them, and they would get that coverage,” Sheehey said. “I believe that Medicaid is covering people at a lower cost than any of these private insurance companies that are offering policies.

If that’s the case, then these facts will come out.”

Sheehey will also support taxing non-profit entities that manage the lab for their gross receipts. Legislators are currently creating bills that will make that happen, as the lab’s next contractor could be a not-for-profit organization. New Mexico does not tax the gross receipts tax for non-profits. If a not-for-profit contractor gets the lab’s management contract next year, said to be worth about $2.2 billion a year, Los Alamos County could lose out on about $25 million in proceeds from gross receipt tax activities at the lab.

“It is up to the state to decide whether or not a non profit contractor for a national lab would pay gross receipts tax or not. That’s purely up to the state. That’s a choice,” Sheehey said. “…It’s a moral obligation. If you have a $2 billion operation, it certainly has impacts on the local area… We want a positive relationship, we want the best contractor, but they have to recognize that operation has an impact on the state that has to be addressed.”

Sheehey plans to start getting out to the people after the holidays.

“I will go into detail on these themes as the campaign progresses,” Sheehey said in a written statement. “To make real progress on any of them, I feel strongly that we need complete transparency and reasonable contribution limits on campaign financing.”

Sheehey can be reached at petesheehey.com