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By Rep. Gail Armstrong (R-District 49)

Every year on Veterans Day we, as a nation, honor those members of the armed forces who have put their lives on the line to defend the civil liberties we enjoy. These women and men have all made tremendous sacrifices in service to the ideals of this country; that all men are created equal and are endowed by their creator with the right to live in freedom and pursue their dreams.

There will be speeches, flyovers, and salutes. Then, on November 12, many Americans will wake up and resume their daily lives.

By James Jimenez and Brian Etheridge, MD

Democracy is “a system of government by the whole population.” By that definition, everyone’s participation is needed in order to keep a democracy alive and well. There is no act of democracy more foundational than voting. Casting a vote is more than exercising your right as a citizen. It’s about accepting the responsibility of citizenship. It’s about affirming that you are a part of something larger than yourself.

In much the same way, elections are about more than sending new or returning leaders to our state and nation’s capitals to enact laws and budget money. Elections are also about what vision we share for the future, what projects we choose to build to improve our quality of life, what problems we decide to work together to solve. Election issues are at the very heart of the values that matter most to us and our families – educating our children, improving our communities, protecting our rights, safety, and the world around us.

heather balasHeather Balas of New Mexico First Submitted by Heather Balas of New Mexico First

Questions remain on healthcare, economy and their approaches to collaborative governance.

“Often, we are presented with a false choice between stewarding our environment and building our economy. How can we take care of both?” This question, offered by Mark Childs of Albuquerque, is one of more than 50 questions developed by New Mexicans for the state's gubernatorial candidates as part of a televised debate that aired Oct. 16 on KOB-TV.

By:  Doris Roberts, Executive Director for All Individuals First

DorisAs a caretaker for individuals with developmental disabilities and the Executive Director of All Individuals First, I see firsthand how public transit not only improves the quality of life, but also creates opportunities for empowerment, independence and joy. Public transit for people with no other means of transportation gives them the same options as everyone—shopping, volunteering, going to the post office, going to work, or taking a fun outing – without relying on someone else to get them there.

One year left to graduate high school, a young woman with the whole world in front of her with endless dreams and potential – dreams of not only serving in the US Navy and commanding ships but to ultimately become one of the most powerful women – takes a quick turn to becoming a prisoner – a victim of domestic violence, forced to be submissive. For the next 17 years and counting she becomes focused solely on survival simply because of a boy who charms his way through a tangled web of lies, their children, and a slowly progressing legal system that fails to recognize and protect the victims of domestic violence post-divorce from the abuse of what I call, “DNA privilege.” Because domestic violence is repetitive and endurance-based, it does not end when the marriage ends.

To understand where the laws have failed the victims in my story, we go back to 2009. I divorced my abuser at the age of 25, after eight long years of suffering where I was simply existing … not truly living. I am now 34, but the abuse has not stopped. During the past nine years, I have been awarded sole legal and sole physical custody of the children, who have already been granted a last name change. The estranged “father” has provided no financial support and any relationship the children once had with him has completely disintegrated. Two of the children don't even know who this person is and, thus, he is no different than a stranger at Walmart.

Letter to the Editor:
I am a 77-year-old Navy Veteran and have lived in the Grant/Luna County area since 1980. I have worked at both the Chino and Tyrone Mines, Grant Co. Sheriff’s Department as well as the Southwest NM Council of Governments. I used my G.I. Bill benefits to earn a BS degree from W.N.M.U. in 1986.

I am currently the Southwest NM Advocate for the NM Fisher House. (Fisher Houses are like McDonald Houses, only for Military Veterans and their families.)

The long-awaited groundbreaking for the NM Fisher House will take place on November 9 at the VA Medical Facility in Albuquerque, NM. The NM Fisher House will be a 16-unit facility available to Veterans and their families who live outside a 50-mile area of the VA Hospital.

By Senator Pete Campos

As a younger man, I used to view this time of year with great hope. As leaves start to fall, days get shorter and nights colder, and it's time to plan for new opportunities. As an educator, I learned to see the promise that late September holds — classrooms full of new faces beginning to grasp new lessons and concepts. As a state senator, I view this time of year through hopeful eyes — elections will soon give way to new faces and a chance to make good on the promise that we as elected officials make to the people — that their values will be reflected through our actions and that their voices will be projected through us.

This year, that hope is especially bright, as we find ourselves with multiple opportunities to come together and shape New Mexico's future in a way that hasn't been possible in a decade. New members of the legislature, a new governor and, yes, over $1 billion in new, nonrecurring money mean that we have an opportunity to address some of our most pressing challenges in creative new ways, all with the goal of improving life for all New Mexicans. How we navigate these decisions and spend taxpayer dollars will define us, both as policymakers and as a state, for years to come.

By: Rep. David Adkins / Albuquerque Republican

Recently, Albuquerque reached a regrettable milestone when officers recorded the 50th homicide of the year. In three years, the number of homicides in our city has more than doubled, going from 30 homicides in 2014 to a record 75 homicides in 2017. Now we are on pace to surpass last year’s record total.

The situation around the state is hardly better. Earlier this summer, New Mexico made headlines when sheriff’s deputies raided a Taos compound and arrested five adults after discovering 11 malnourished children living in squalor, a cache of weapons, and the dead body of one child who had been reported kidnapped in Georgia. People across the country were outraged when the state’s justice system botched the cases. Federal authorities eventually had to intervene.

New Mexico is quickly earning a reputation for being the crime capital of the country. Albuquerque leads the nation in auto thefts, and New Mexico has been named the worst state for property crimes. The Taos case has made our judicial system a laughing stock to observers throughout the world.

Meanwhile, some residents have decided they have had enough and are leaving our state to create new lives for themselves and their families elsewhere. Those of us who remain can only wonder how this has happened to the beautiful state we love.

There are many reasons for the state’s exploding crime rates. One undeniable fact is that some criminals have decided to make a business of crime in our state. So far, business for them has been very, very good.

Consider a study released by the Albuquerque Innovation Team (ABQ i-team) last year. According to its review of arrest records, 72 percent of felony arrestees had been through the criminal justice system before, and over 500 of these arrestees had been detained for other felony offenses during the seven previous years. The study showed that 35 percent of the criminals arrested on felony charges had five or more prior arrests. The ABQ i-team determined that 4.4 percent of arrestees were responsible for 36 percent of all felony arrests in seven years leading up to the report.

Law enforcement officials have long warned that the “catch-and-release” judicial approach only encourages criminals to continue their way of life. Sometimes, violent offenders are back on the street after only spending a day or two in jail. For these individuals, the rewards gained from their criminal activity far outweigh the risks of being caught and prosecuted. Many offenders in our state have learned this simple lesson: crime pays in New Mexico.

For the past few years I have worked with a group of lawmakers to change this reality and make New Mexico a less friendly place for criminals. Together, we sponsored bills designed to impose real consequences on the small group of criminals who are committing most of the crimes.

These measures, such as the “three-strikes” bill that would expand the list of felony crimes making a violent repeat offender eligible for a life sentence, have often been met with disdain by our Democrat colleagues. We were accused of having an “all-crime, all-the-time” agenda, and Democrat leaders in the Senate refused to even give some of our bills a hearing.

We made some progress during this past session. The bipartisan crime package passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor earlier this year will help. I was especially pleased that my proposal to give retention bonuses to New Mexico’s law enforcement officers is now law. But we need to do more.

Although New Mexico is making some headway in reversing a few crime trends in our state, too many violent crimes are still being committed. We’ll never be able to secure real peace until we get serious about enforcing consequences for the minority of criminals responsible for the majority of violent crime in New Mexico.

Live from Silver City

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Editor's Note

Mary Alice tried out a different format for reporting the lengthy County Commission preliminary budget hearing. Instead of traditional narrative sentences, to do it more quickly and efficiently, she put the name of each speaker before a paraphrased version of their comments. Questions were not necessarily asked by the speaker, but they were answered by the one replying. Please let editor@grantcountybeat.com know if you love, hate or are indifferent about the format. It may lead to how some reports are written henceforth in order to get them out in a more timely manner.

Mary Alice is back, but on slow-mo, trying to catch up with all that didn't get done before she had to leave. And doing everything that happened after she got back! Working on it

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