Gubernatorial candidates campaign in Farmington
Steve Pearce, Michelle Lujan Grisham try to rally supporters during campaign's final stretch
FARMINGTON —Republican gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce promised to protect oil, gas and coal jobs while Democratic candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham pledged to end PARCC testing in schools when the two made campaign stops Friday in Farmington.
Pearce visited PESCO to celebrate the Farmington business’ new partnership with the company BayoTech Inc., a chemical reactor company focused on hydrogen and fertilizer products.
Lujan Grisham also came for a celebration on Friday. She attended the one-year anniversary celebration for the San Juan County Federation of Democratic Women. The event attracted other candidates, as well, including U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Court of Appeals judge candidate Jacqueline Medina and state auditor candidate Brian Colón.
Both gubernatorial candidates urged local residents to vote during the early-voting period, which begins Tuesday at the county clerk's office and at locations throughout the county on Oct. 20, or on the Nov. 6 election day.
Pearce emphasize jobs during his campaign visit
Pearce said this election is about jobs.
“The entire debate is about your jobs and your future and your ability to raise your families,” he said.
He criticized Lujan Grisham’s stance on fracking and said he would fight to keep the San Juan Generating Station and San Juan Mine open.
“I want to find a market for the natural gas here,” Pearce said after addressing the crowd at PESCO.
He said that could mean building pipelines to transport natural gas to other parts of the state.
Pearce also said he wants to start refining water from San Juan County to ship to cities like Rio Rancho, Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
“A lot of the state is running out of water,” he said.
Pearce said he would use the state’s $1.2 billion surplus to invest in infrastructure.
“If we build infrastructure, then we can grow and expand our economy,” he said.
Lujan Grisham focuses on education
The crowd at Chef Bernie’s Restaurant in Farmington began chanting “MLG, MLG!” as Lujan Grisham made her way to the podium.
The room erupted in cheers once again when Lujan Grisham promised that on the first day of her administration, if she is elected, she would sign an executive order that does away with the PARCC test.
PARCC tests are standardized tests used to judge students' proficiency in subjects like math and English. The tests are administered to students on an annual basis starting in third grade and ending their junior year of high school. At one time, several dozen states used PARACC tests for their standardized testing programs, but that number has dwindled to only a handful in recent years.
Lujan Girsham also promised pay raises for teachers.
“If we fail to get education right, we will fail to reach our potential,” Lujan Grisham said.
After her speech, Lujan Grisham said she agreed with Pearce that jobs are one of the critical issues this election. However, she said education is critical for economic development.
When asked about a transition plan for the local community in light of the potential 2022 closure of the San Juan Generating Station, she said the good news is that there is time to come up with alternatives if politicians do not delay.
“We are going to design a work force training and transition that protects the workers,” she said.
She said the plan also will include using San Juan Generating Station components to produce renewable energy.
Other candidates encourage people to get out and vote
Luján said this election is about earning the trust of the voters, especially those who cast a ballot for President Barack Obama in 2012 and then voted for President Donald Trump in 2016.
State Rep. Sharon Clahchischilliage, R-Kirtland, said Pearce is trailing in the polls, but San Juan County voters could ensure he wins the election. She said voters need to take responsibility for who they put in the governor's office.
Colón called the election a historic time to be on the ballot. He said women are "feeling persecuted but empowered," and he point out that all five Democratic candidates for the state Court of Appeals are women.
Toulouse Oliver also encouraged people to vote.
“It really is going to come down to every person who goes to the ballot box,” she said.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.