Harry Garcia eyes third term in District 69, will square off against Roy "Randy" Ryan
FARMINGTON — The race for the District 69 state representatives seat on the Nov. 3 ballot pits two-term incumbent Harry Garcia against challenger Roy “Randy” Ryan to represent an area that stretches across Bernalillo, Valencia, Socorro, Cibola and McKinley Counties — and even the far southeast outskirts of San Juan County.
That region is dealing with many pressing issues, from the future of energy extraction in New Mexico to the implementation of gun laws and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Both candidates say they are motivated to address those issues.
The Escalante Generating Station’s closure at the end of the year will have reverberating impacts in the Grants section of District 69. The San Juan County portion of District 69 is part of the Mancos Shale play and is one of the most active oil and gas producing portions of the San Juan Basin.
Garcia, a Democrat, said fossil fuels seem to be “on the way out” and that it’s time to start transitioning to wind and solar energy.
Garcia said that’ll only help create temporary jobs and not spark long-term employment opportunities, but the change is needed for the environment and to combat global warming.
Garcia said a 40-acre solar energy farm was just added in Grants within the last six months.
“The whole world’s going that way,” Garcia said.
However, Ryan, a Republican, hopes to continue using fossil fuels because of the financial ramifications of doing otherwise.
Ryan said fossil fuels are cheaper than wind and solar energy. And with wind turbine prices, Ryan said it’ll take years to break even on those costs.
Ryan also said he doesn’t see anything happening where a fuel cheaper than fossil fuels can be offered.
Fossil fuels, which originated from dead plant and animal matter that was compressed and heated over millions of years, generate more than 85 percent of the country’s energy for things like electricity and heating.
“It’s used in too many different products,” Ryan said.
Economy in age of COVID-19
When it comes to potentially cutting spending to help balance a tight January budget, both men immediately gave an emphatic “no” on cutting into education.
“We’re last in education as it is… If you’re going to cut (there), you’re not going to gain anything,” Ryan said.
When it comes to jumpstarting small businesses, Garcia said he wants to do everything possible to help them get back on their feet and also be more “tax-friendly” for those opening shop for the first time and for those coming in from out of state to do business.
“I think the funding part’s going to be the challenge,” Garcia said. “We have to help them out… How can we expect them to reopen and knock taxes on them?”
Guns, Second Amendment
Garcia said background checks are important, but there would be too many immediate question marks pertaining to gun control legislation.
Instead, Garcia said the state must invest more into giving law enforcement tools to better help those enduring a mental health crisis. That way, there would be fewer incidents where a police officer or sheriff’s deputy ends up shooting and killing a person in crisis.
Garcia also said police should have more tools when dealing with things like domestic violence calls.
“We need to try to stop the problem before it starts,” Garcia said.
Ryan, who’s in favor of Second Amendment “sanctuary” counties, said he won’t penalize lawful gun owners and also wants to increase penalties for those using firearms illegally.
Ryan said he believes in common-sense gun laws, but also believes the state’s red-flag gun bill, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed back on Feb. 25, is another way firearms are taken away from people.
Both have been around the block
Garcia, 71, is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps., and he’s been a businessman in Grants for the past 40 years.
Garcia, who was appointed by former Gov. Susana Martinez in September of 2016, serves on nine New Mexico State Legislature committees — including the Appropriations and Finance Committee, as well as the House Transportation, Public Works and Capital Improvements Committee.
Ryan, 72, served 33 years in law enforcement from 1978 to 2011.
Ryan started out as a police officer in a New Mexico town formerly called “Central” — now called Santa Clara — just outside Silver City, and then in Grants. He then worked at the Western New Mexico correctional facility in Grants, followed by sheriff reserve and detention center stints in Cibola County.
This will be Ryan’s first time running for office.
“This has definitely been a learning experience,” Ryan said. “Knowing what I learned now, I would’ve taken a more active role (when I was younger).”
Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.
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