By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
Harry Montoya, a Democrat from Santa Fe who has declared his candidacy for New Mexico’s Third Congressional seat, hosted a meet-and-greet event Saturday morning at Mark’s Restaurant in Portales.
Montoya served two terms on the Pojoaque Valley School Board before winning a seat on the Santa Fe County Commission in 2002. He currently is in his second term as county commissioner.
“I need to take a step back and listen,” Montoya said. “And that’s what I see in terms of the opportunity to listen to what the people of Portales and Roosevelt County have to say.”
Montoya has declared candidacy for the seat currently held by Rep. Tom Udall, who has said he will run for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Pete Domenici.
Others who have said they plan to run for the office include former New Mexico assistant attorney general Jon Adams, chairman of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Ben Ray Lujan, New Mexico attorney Rudy Martin, New Mexico’s first secretary of the Indian affairs department and Santa Fe businessman Don Wiviott.
Montoya separates himself from others running for the office with his experience in state issues.
“In terms of the candidates that have declared, I feel that I’m the most experienced and the most educated individual in terms of terms of having the background and the experience needed for this position,” Montoya said. “I haven’t been just talking about policy that needs to be implemented, I’ve actually been working at developing and implementing that policy.”
The pro-life native New Mexican has served on several state boards, including ones related to education and substance abuse prevention — two planks in his district-wide platform.
One of Montoya’s goals is to end the “No Child Left Behind” national education program.
“That’s been the biggest disaster for public education in this country, ever,” Montoya said. “It’s caused a real schism in terms of the educated and the uneducated. (There’s) too many unfunded mandates in education. If the feds are going to put mandates on local school district, they need to fund those mandates.”
Economic development and a sustainable water supply are other issues he has identified as problem areas.
“From here in Portales, all the way up to Gallup, all the way to Farmington and Raton — those two issues have come up repeatedly,” Martin said.
Roosevelt County Commissioner Dennis Lopez helped put the event together, and says it’s important for Portales residents to voice their concerns with a congressional candidate.
“It means a lot for him to come here and just see what Portales is all about. He’s able to really touch base with a lot of individuals who have been born and raised here in Portales,” Lopez said. “They realize by meeting him that he’s not someone who’s going to ignore this part of the state.”
“It’s always nice to have a face-to-face for him to tell us how he feels, and we get a chance to tell him how we feel about the various issues,” said Portales resident Mary Martinez.