The hunters and fishermen of northeast New Mexico have been waiting a long time to have someone like us as our region’s representative on the State Game Commission. Gary Johnson and Bill Richardson ignored us. And so far at least, so has Gov. Susana Martinez, though hopefully she’ll change that.
Richardson helped the sportsmen of New Mexico on many issues. But he appointed too many of his big campaign contributors to the Game Commission (five of them together donated nearly $150,000) and not enough average sportsmen who understand the concerns of regular New Mexicans.
Martinez has appointed knowledgeable sportsmen for most of the regional seats on the Game Commission. But she has left northeastern New Mexico hunters and fishermen without a voice on the commission. In fact, all of the commissioners live south of the I-40 corridor. The hunters and fishermen of Las Vegas, Raton, Taos and other towns deserve to have a commissioner who knows this region and its hunting, fishing and wildlife issues.
The governor needs to finish the job with the Game Commission if she wants to make a break from the politics of the Richardson administration. She could start with Commission Chairman Jim McClintic, one of Richardson’s big donors. His term expired at the end of last year and she never reappointed him, but he still is on the commission. (His company also donated $3,000 to Martinez, which will reflect badly on her until she appoints someone new.)
The governor should fill the commission’s five regional seats with regular hunters and fishermen -- sportsmen (and women) who have a track record of working on local hunting, fishing and wildlife issues. These five should not be major campaign donors or have any connection to special interest groups that come before the Game Commission. Environmental and ranching groups already have seats on the commission; the five regional seats belong to the public.
Gov. Martinez has started making some changes on the State Game Commission. Hopefully she is not done yet. She needs to keeping working to eliminate any whiff of favoritism and pay-to-play politics and start rebuilding sportsmen’s trust in the one state board that affects every one of us.