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Legislative selections

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By Optic Editorial Board

Earlier this year, New Mexico’s legislative districts were redrawn, leaving two House and two Senate seats to include parts of San Miguel and Mora counties. And in all four districts there are Democratic Party contests, which will be decided next Tuesday. Following are our thoughts about each of these contests.

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For the District 8 Senate seat, we recommend that voters return incumbent Sen. Pete Campos to the legislature. After 22 years in the Senate, he is now the sixth-ranking member in seniority, which places him in an even better position to get things done for Las Vegas and northeastern New Mexico.

Campos is a team player — he listens to his constituents at City Hall and elsewhere and responds to their needs. He knows how to bring state funding home, which is very important if Las Vegas is going to address its long-term water needs.  He will be far more effective in the Senate than his challenger, Thomas Garcia of Ocaté. We think it’s in the area’s best interest to return Campos to Santa Fe for another term.

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Meanwhile, in Senate District 39, a cloud of questions about Sen. Phil Griego’s use of campaign funds hangs over his head, but instead of addressing them he seems more determined to duck the issue. It’s time for a change, and among the two alternatives, Jack Sullivan is by far more qualified than Nicole Castellano.

Sullivan has an impressive background. He’s an engineer who understands water issues from a pragmatic point of view. He rose to the rank of captain in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. As a father and a grandfather, he volunteers his time with various children and youth programs. And he’s served eight years on the Santa Fe County Commission.

It’s time for District 39 to have some new, more responsive representation. We think Sullivan’s the man for the job.

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In the District 40 House race, between Rep. Nick Salazar and challengers Peter Martinez and Benjie Regensberg, we’ll pass on making an endorsement. It would be only a half-hearted recommendation, since we’re not impressed with any of the choices during this election cycle.

Maybe we’ll feel better about one of the candidates to face off in the fall, when the Democratic Party’s nominee will go against a Republican challenger, Gary E. Martinez of Mora.

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In House District 70, we see a great opportunity to make a needed change by electing Tomás Salazar to replace incumbent Richard Vigil. Salazar is an accomplished educator who retired to his family ranch in the Valley. He has demonstrated through volunteerism his commitment to serving the community, and is now eager to serve legislatively.

Salazar has the knowledge and the professional disposition to effectively represent the people of his district. By contrast, during his seven terms in office, Vigil has accomplished little. It’s time he was replaced with someone who will not only listen to constituent concerns but have the ability to act on them. Tomás Salazar is exactly that man; that’s why we’re recommending that voters send him to the state House of Representative in 2013.