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Montoya to run again for state rep

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By David Giuliani

Tecolote resident Naomi Montoya plans to run once again for the state representative seat held by Richard Vigil, D-Ribera.

The District 70 seat covers the city of Las Vegas and many of the rural areas in San Miguel County, as well as precincts in eastern Torrance County.

In 2006, Vigil prevailed with 59 percent of the vote to Montoya’s 41 percent. Vigil hasn’t announced whether he will run again and hasn’t been returning messages for comment.

In the 2006 battle, Vigil raised $24,231 in contributions, while Montoya received $3,849. Montoya’s donations came mostly from friends and family, while Vigil, as is the case with most incumbents, received much of his money from the gambling, banking, lawyer, liquor and health lobbies.

Montoya is the second candidate to announce. Martha Johnsen, a principal in the West Las Vegas school district and former longtime radio show host, said last month that she was entering the race for state representative.

Montoya promised that she would be rejecting politics as usual, noting that people are looking for change.

“I’m running independently,” she said. “You have to represent the community, not special interests.”

She recently became the purchasing director at Luna Community College. Before that, she had worked as the executive director for Heritage Home Health Care in Santa Fe, but the company closed that branch after Santa Fe raised its minimum wage, she said.

She said it’s important that lawmakers represent their entire districts. For instance, she said Torrance County residents feel as if Vigil has ignored them. In 2006, she won those precincts.

A little more than a month after Vigil defeated Montoya, the lawmaker was tied into a scandal associated with spending in the West Las Vegas school district’s bilingual program, headed by his wife, Roberta Vigil. Jesus Lopez, then the school district’s attorney, alleged that Vigil quietly funneled more than $100,000 to the program. The money went for such things as a nearly $10,000 party, top-of-the-line furniture and a large refrigerator.

The whole situation resulted in the indictment of his wife and four others. Vigil’s brother, Michael Vigil, lost his re-election bid for the West board after staunchly defending the bilingual program’s party and other spending.

Montoya said the spending of the state money was questionable and that her family would know better than to seek special favors if she were elected. Besides, she said, no one in her family is serving in the upper echelons of government.

Montoya said if she were elected, she would look to eliminate state laws that make the jobs of police officers tougher, although she promised to protect civil rights. She also said she would look at supporting more proactive solutions to stop drunken driving, rather than reacting to the problem.

As for the minimum wage, Montoya she said she supports the recent increase, but she is concerned about the effects on small businesses.

“I don’t know if enough thought was put into it,” she said. “I don’t want small businesses to close. Their profits are going to get cut.”

Montoya said she would like to bring all local government entities to the table when considering funding priorities, so officials can look at the community’s needs as a whole.

She said she has informed both Johnsen and Vigil that she planned to run, noting that Vigil told her that he planned to run again.

Montoya said she doesn’t really know the county’s other state lawmakers — Sens. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, and Phil Griego, D-San Jose, and Rep. Thomas Garcia, D-Ocat.

“No matter who I’m working with, I’m a team player,” she said.