Why Local Races Matter
Here we are again. Election season. Or maybe it’s just a carry-over from the last election season. Actually, there really isn’t a “season” for it at all anymore. It’s a constant drone like road noise on a long car trip. It gets where you don’t even hear it anymore because it’s just “there”. It’s a constant barrage of calls, emails, social media posts, TV commercials, etc. You can’t escape it. So, in our own defense, we tune it all out.
But let’s take a pit stop for a minute, stretch our legs and consider how this all works, and what it really means to us in our lives. My perspective, of course, is as a candidate for office.
Running for office is hard. It’s grueling. It’s emotional. It requires massive amounts of mental, emotional, and physical input. This is not for the faint of heart.
This is the hardest job I have ever had.
Yet, I sit here in front of my computer at my desk in my bedroom in my old robe with tears in my eyes as I contemplate how I am going to manage the expenses of this campaign for the next 30 days.
This is a huge issue. Especially with local & state campaigns. I read the news and see presidential candidates and federal office candidates raising X millions of dollars in one or two days and I struggle to raise $100 to pay for gas so I can get to parts of the district to talk with voters.
The most frustrating part of all of this? State and local level lawmakers are the ones who impact our daily lives. They are responsible for making sure there is enough money for the roads we drive on to get to work, the schools our children attend, the housing opportunities available to the citizens, the medical facilities available to serve the sick and injured.
This is literally where we live.
I get it. I do. National politics is exciting. It’s basically entertainment. Local races are boring. There is no glitz or glamour to it whatsoever. We talk about very dry and unappetizing topics like wastewater management, or bond issues, or transportation plans. You get the idea.
It’s a snoozefest.
But here is where we are: We have many, many state congressional seats, judgeships, county and city seats that go unchallenged for YEARS. Decades sometimes. Do you know who your local leadership are? Are you aware of how they vote and what they do? Do you know if they are actually working for you?
Former Speaker of The US House Tip O’Neill famously said: “All politics is local”. That statement is truer than ever. How our tax dollars are spent, how schools are funded, how we fix our roads and other issues are affected by local politics. It is easy to get wrapped up in what is said at the national level and what is coming from the White House, but at the end of the day, what happens to you, in whatever city or town you live in, is directly affected by our local politics and who we have in office.
Former Speaker of The US House Tip O’Neill ~All politics is local.
It is true that who we elect matters. When someone is elected that doesn’t represent ALL of the people, the constituents are the ones that suffer. Maybe you have been affected by a decision that was made, maybe someone you love has, but at the end of the day we all get affected by bad policy and bad law decisions. The good news is that you as a voter have the power to change this.
I look at the political landscape in just this one district here in southeastern New Mexico and I see representatives who have held a particular seat for so long it seems as if they are lifetime appointees.
This is not what Democracy looks like in my mind.
We should be challenging our leaders. We should be holding our leaders accountable. We should be involved and engaged and questioning those we elect to represent us at this level. It is critical that we do so. It is the only way we inoculate ourselves against corruption and abuse. This is not someone else’s issue. It’s ours. It’s all of ours.
We must expect and demand choices in our local elections. We must demand that our representatives do right by us. We must support and help candidates who put their entire lives on hold to put themselves out there to challenge the status quo.
From a candidate’s perspective, I will tell you this: It’s hard. This is hard work for a job that I will essentially do for free in Santa Fe as New Mexico does not pay its legislators any kind of salary to do the work of the people.
I am not in this for the money.
I will be in the red for as long as I do this.
The seat I am running for hasn’t been challenged for 18 years.
That’s a generation.
That doesn’t look like Democracy to me.
On top of all of this: The current occupant of this seat, while not officially announced candidacy, is the current House Minority leader. So, not only am I taking on a narrow scope of challenging the incumbent for the seat, I am also taking on the entrenched party statewide.
But I’m in it.
I am here to provide a choice. An alternative. Perhaps even a new path forward.
I need help to do this. Every local candidate up and down the ballot needs all of us to pay attention to what matters right here where we live.
Washington is shiny. I get it. I get sucked in by it too. Federal offices matter, but they matter less on the day to day.
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. ~Annie Dillard
I intend to spend my days from now until the election…and beyond… in service to the people of southeastern New Mexico. Elected, or not.
I hope you will join me in this endeavor.
Media contact: Luis Guerrero, Campaign Manager
Phone number: (575)635-3354
Jen’s website: https://www.jenfor54.org/
The first question I am asked at nearly every meeting with voters is “WHERE is District 54?” or “Wait, what? I didn’t even know that existed.”
That tells me a few things as a candidate, but I’ll save that for another post.
First things first: Here is the big map from The United States Census Bureau
Since this is such an ENORMOUS district in terms of square miles, let’s take it apart and look at it in terms of zones. First, this district represents parts of 3 separate counties: Otero, Chaves, and Eddy Counties. The major population centers are the small mountain communities in the aggregate, Carlsbad, and Artesia, most of which is in Otero and Eddy Counties. Chaves County is sparsely populated in District 54 (but no less important). This means that there are 3 distinct economic zones encompassed by 54. Major industries include (but not limited to): Tourism and forestry in the mountain communities, Farm and ranch in Chaves and Eddy, potash mining as well as one of the largest oil & gas production centers in all of New Mexico in Eddy County.
Northern Otero County mountain community District Bounds Map and City / Village detail
Southern Otero County desert community District Bounds Map and City / Village detail
Chaves County District Bounds Map and City / Village detail
Eddy County District Bounds Map and City / Village detail
City of Artesia, Eddy County Detail
City of Carlsbad, Eddy County Detail
As always, if you have any questions or need help don’t hesitate to contact us.