Educator to run for state representative

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By David Giuliani

A West Las Vegas principal on Wednesday was the first to announce her intention to run for the District 70 state representative seat held by Richard Vigil, D-Ribera.

Martha Johnsen, a lifelong area resident and principal of the West Las Vegas Family Partnership, is a political newcomer.

She said that as an educator, she plans to advocate for teachers and students.

“It seems that some of the decisions made at the Legislature are made without teachers and students in mind,” Johnsen said in a statement. “Having been in education for the past 17 years, I believe I could offer a different perspective.”

She also said she wanted to focus on the environment.

“Everywhere you go, you run across trash. I believe we could do much more by attacking this through recycling efforts and by educating our citizens. Discarded glass containers line our country roads and city streets. Our landscape is one of our greatest resources,” she said in the statement.

District 70 includes the city of Las Vegas and the Valley, as well as several precincts in Torrance County.

Johnsen was born in Las Vegas to the late Ralph McWilliams and Sara Espern McWilliams.

She said it’s important to preserve local history, buildings and language.

“It is what engenders community pride. This is our economic development now and for the future,” she said.

Johnsen said she works with the families of students who are struggling financially, as well as grandparents who are raising their grandchildren. She said she plans to go to the Legislature and fight on their behalf.

“I’m going into this with a sincere belief that I feel the pulse of our community,” she said.

Other areas she wants to target: obtaining more money for the sheriff’s, city and state police departments, and local fire departments; targeting teenage pregnancy; getting alcohol sales out of gas stations; widening N.M. Highway 3 from Interstate 25 to Ribera; and investigating the possibility of making a state monument at San Miguel.

In the last Democratic primary, Vigil trounced political newcomer Naomi Montoya with 59 percent of the vote. Neither Montoya nor Vigil could be reached for comment Wednesday about whether they plan to run next year. Johnsen said she called to inform Vigil about her campaign.

The Democratic primary is seen as much more significant than the general election, as Democrats are virtually certain to win in San Miguel County.

Johnsen plans to circulate a nominating petition for registered Democrats to sign.

The filing date for the position is March 18.