Two Democrats vie for NM Senate seat nomination

Farmington residents Matt Dodson and Rebecca Morgan will face one another in the Democratic primary on June 7

Joshua Kellogg
jkellogg@daily-times.com
2016 New Mexico primary elections
  • The winner of the primary will face Republican incumbent, Bill Sharer, in the November general election.
  • Matt Dodson and Rebecca Morgan both say they would like to diversity San Juan County's economy.
  • Dodson, 52, previously ran for Farmington mayor, college board and state Senate.
  • Morgan, 63, is a first-time candidate and the owner of Farmington's Namaste House.

Editor's note: The Daily Times is publishing stories over the span of three days that profile candidates running for local and state offices. We will focus only on contested races. Primary elections for New Mexico Republicans and Democrats will take place on June 7. Early voting ends June 4. Go to sjcclerk.net for a list of polling locations and hours. The winners of the primaries will compete in the general election on Nov. 8.

FARMINGTON — Both Farmington residents vying for the Democratic Party's nomination for the state Senate District 1 seat say they want to diversity San Juan County's economy.

Matt Dodson and Rebecca Morgan will square off in the Democratic primary on June 7. The winner will face the seat's Republican incumbent, Bill Sharer, in the Nov. 8 general election. Sharer is running uncontested in the Republican primary.

This marks Dodson's second run for the state Senate, after Sharer defeated him in the 2012 general election. Dodson, 52, previously ran for Farmington mayor in 2014 and San Juan College board in 2015. He did not win either of those seats.

This is the first run for office for Morgan, the owner of Namaste House, a Farmington assisted living facility. Morgan, 63, said an official in the state's Democratic Party asked her earlier this year to run for the seat.

Matt Dodson

Dodson said one of the biggest issues statewide is a lack of jobs and revenue. He said more work needs to be done in San Juan County to diversify the area's economy.

If elected, Dodson said he would sponsor a bill to tax the profits out-of-state corporation earn in New Mexico.

"Every other state in the nation does this," he said. "No wonder New Mexico does not have money for our schools, roads, mental health services and for everything else we need."

Morgan, who is an ordained United Church of Christ minister, described the current political climate as "horrific" and said she wants to bring kindness to a process in which she sees lawmakers "demonizing" one other for having differing opinion.

She also said she supports diversifying the county's economy, adding that while she has a great deal of respect and gratitude for the oil and gas industry, the recent decline in tax revenue illustrates the need to expand the area's economic base.

"Putting all our eggs in one basket is no longer viable nor sustainable," she said. "We need to continue to seek other means of economic development and professional growth opportunities for our young people."

Rebecca Morgan

Dodson said he would also support legalizing marijuana for recreational use, citing the increase in tax revenue and creation of new jobs in Colorado after the state legalized the practice. Legalizing marijuana would also reduce arrests for marijuana possession, allowing police to focus on violent crimes, Dodson said.

Further, Dodson said he supports plans articulated by Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders to increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour and create a universal health care system.

Morgan said education is one of her priorities, and she wants to increase pay for teachers to attract more high-quality educators to the state. New Mexico ranks No. 32 in the country for the amount of money spent on students in the classroom, she said, adding that, if elected, she would support more education spending by the state Legislature.

Also, Morgan said she supports implementing an independent ethics commission to oversee the state government. She said it would help with the perception that New Mexico has problems with ethics in its state government.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.