Their view: Time to put campaigns in past

New Mexico State Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, says it's time to end political bickering. Here's a snippet from a recent column he submitted to newspapers around the state:

The 2012 election was one of the most divisive, partisan and personal New Mexico has faced. It will be hard and it will take time to heal the wounds, but it is critical we do so and move away from campaigning and toward governing as fast as possible.

The breadth and depth of the challenges facing our state are well known: poverty, especially among children; a dearth of jobs, especially high-paying jobs with good benefits; poor access to health care, especially in rural New Mexico; and — at the root of it all — struggling schools that produce struggling students.

Unfortunately and predictably, the discussions of these and other challenges we face focus on who is to blame for them rather than how to fix them.

It is time to change that discussion. If we don't, the upcoming legislative session will be one of gridlock and bickering. But if we put the campaigns in the past and refocus the discussion on how to overcome our challenges, the 2013 legislative session can be a model for communication, cooperation and collaboration.

We have all the ingredients for a successful session. Coming together in January will be a healthy mix of veteran and new legislators, each committed to helping New Mexico thrive.

The state's budget outlook is the brightest it has been in years, with a small, but significant, amount of "new" money available to restore some of the budget cuts of previous years.

And New Mexicans, weary of the election season rhetoric, are not only ready to accept, but are actually demanding thoughtful discussions of the challenges we face and the difficult solutions to overcome them.

We have our best chance of achieving long-term success by initially focusing on several areas: early childhood education, access to health care, protection of our scarce water supply and job retention and creation.

Policymakers agree these are critically important issues that deserve our full attention.

There will no doubt be disagreement about how best to address them, but we must ensure those disagreements are rooted in policy, not politics.

A balanced approach, supported by mutual respect for all positions, will help us achieve our goal of a perpetual cycle of improvement.

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