Here are the Las Vegas Optic’s positions on the five state constitutional amendments that are coming before New Mexico voters in the general election:
Neutral on Amendment 1. This proposal calls for increasing the number of members on school boards in districts with more than 200,000 residents from seven to nine. It would also require districts of such size to hold mail-in ballot elections. As a practical matter, this amendment applies to just one district — Albuquerque, the state’s biggest. Why is a change affecting just one district going before voters statewide? Shouldn’t the people of Albuquerque have the say over the size of their board? That’s why we take no stand for or against this amendment. If anything, the state constitution should be revised so proposals like increasing Albuquerque’s school board don’t have to go before all New Mexico voters.
No on Amendment 2. This amendment would allow county commissions to give mid-term pay increases for county officers such as commissioner, sheriff, assessor, treasurer, clerk and probate judge. These elected officials knew what they would be paid when they ran for office, so they shouldn’t complain about their salaries. Proponents may say that the mid-term salary increases would allow counties to keep valuable people and reward them for good performance. However, we think it’s appropriate to change salaries for elected officials when new terms begin.
No on Amendment 3. This proposal would require that the heads of all cabinet-level departmental agencies be reconfirmed by the state Senate at the beginning of each term of a governor. As it stands, the governor only has to get his cabinet-level heads confirmed at the start of his first term. These officials serve at the pleasure of the governor, so if the governor is unhappy with their performance, he can remove them. We see no good reason to give the Senate the added power.
Yes on Amendment 4. This amendment would allow school board elections to be held at the same time as nonpartisan elections. Now, the state constitution forbids school elections to be held with any other. We are emphatically in favor of such a proposal. After all, if school board elections were combined with others, it could increase voter turnout, which means greater citizen participation. Also, holding elections at the same time saves on costs. In 2004, local school elections were held at the same time as the election for the board at Luna Community College. In 2006, local officials discovered that they had been in violation of the state constitution, so the school board and Luna elections were held a month apart. We hope this amendment resolves this problem, so all of these educational races can be held simultaneously.
Yes on Amendment 5. Under this amendment, the governor could fill a vacancy in the lieutenant governor’s office subject to the approval of a majority of the state Senate. Such a situation is not academic. Indeed, it’s very likely that Gov. Bill Richardson next year may take a job in a new Democratic administration. As such, Lt. Gov. Diane Denish could be promoted to governor, and that would leave the lieutenant governor’s position vacant. This amendment would help solve this succession problem.