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Gonzales receiving student support

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By David Giuliani

Highlands University Regent Javier Gonzales, a Democrat who is considering whether to run for Congress, has attracted some local support.

Former student body president Jesse Lopez has organized a group of students who are supporting Gonzales’ possible run for the 3rd congressional district seat.

Gonzales said he would make a decision in the next couple of weeks. He said he wanted to wait until Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., makes his announcement for his expected run for the Senate.

“I’m very pleased the students at Highlands University have continued to demonstrate their passion to be in the public process,” he said. “I’m flattered by their support.”

Lopez has organized a pro-Gonzales rally for 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 28, in the student center’s senate chambers. He said the Board of Regents chairman has built a strong track record as both a Santa Fe County commissioner and Highlands regents.

“He’s testified and lobbied in Washington, D.C. He is very approachable,” Lopez said.

Lopez acknowledged that he disagreed with the procedure used when Gonzales and other regents voted to fire former President Manny Aragon in 2006. He said he respected Aragon but that his biggest issue was that the regents needed to get student input before terminating Aragon, who was fired during the summer when no classes were in session.

“It was a timing issue,” Lopez said.

On the whole, he said, Gonzales has been very good at including the student voice in the regents’ decisions.

If he runs, Gonzales said his biggest issues would be to support legislation to increase access to higher education; renew the commitment to bring jobs to northern New Mexico, which he said was classified as consistently poor; and increase access to health care.

As for Iraq, Gonzales said he would be for an immediate withdrawal of troops. He said his proposal would reflect that of Gov. Bill Richardson, a presidential candidate.