GOP candidates hold forum for upcoming primary at San Juan College

Candidates are preparing for June 7 primary election

Joshua Kellogg
Farmington Daily Times
  • The Republican Party of San Juan County and New Mexico hosted a candidate forum on Nov. 6 at San Juan College in the Connie Gotsch Theatre on campus.
  • Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for reelection as her first term comes to an end next year.
  • Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer gave a brief speech before the first set of candidates appeared on stage.

FARMINGTON — Republican candidates from across the state came to Farmington just days after the most recent election to start vying for a GOP nomination in the November 2022 general election.

The Republican Party of San Juan County and New Mexico hosted a candidate forum on Nov. 6 at San Juan College in the Connie Gotsch Theatre on campus. Multiple candidates for governor were on stage during the event as they hope to win the party nomination in the June 7 primary election and face the Democratic candidate in the Nov. 8, 2022 general election's gubernatorial race.

Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is running for reelection as her first term comes to an end next year.

More:33 voting locations across San Juan County to open for Election Day 2021

Forum attendee Jolene Hellekson told The Daily Times she was concerned over how the state is operating and she wanted to hear what the candidates had to say.

Hellekson said she feels like San Juan County is dying as there are no jobs due to the decline of activity in the oil field, and she hoped to hear the candidates speaking about bringing jobs back to the area.

One of the event organizers, Robert Tso, told The Daily Times the event was created to help bring in Navajo voters so they can learn about the GOP candidates.

Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer gave a brief speech before the first set of candidates appeared on stage.

Isabella Solis and Ant Thornton were the two Lt. Governor candidates attending the event. They appeared on stage with Secretary of State candidate Audrey Trujillo and State Treasurer candidate Harry Montoya.

Solis and Thornton answered questions about how they could help San Juan County positions if they won the primary.

More:Nov. 2 local county election had similar voter turnout to November 2019 election

Four candidates for the state GOP primary speak in a forum on Nov. 5 in the San Juan College Connie Gotsch Theatre in Farmington.
From left to right, State Treasurer candidate Harry Montoya, Secretary of State candidate Audrey Trujillo, Lt. Governor Candidates Isabell Solis and Ant Thornton.

GOP candidates during the event did not mince words about Lujan Grisham’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They spoke against vaccine mandates, arguing the "'lockdowns" led to many business closures, and the statewide indoor mask mandate.

Five prospective gubernatorial candidates took to the stage to answer four questions and provide closing remarks. Jay Block, Rebecca Dow, Ethel Maharg, Louie Sanchez and Greg Zanetti provided reasons why voters should choose them as the nominee.

Here they are:Unofficial results and updates from San Juan County races

Members of the Republican Party of San Juan County prepared the questions.

The candidates answered questions about tackling poverty in the state, improving education and improving communication systems, like broadband internet access.

Some of their answers overlapped as they advocated for less government inference, reforming the state’s tax code, eliminating the Energy Transition Act, keeping open the power plants and mines and completing a railroad project into San Juan County.

New Mexico GOP primary candidates for governor, from left to right, 
Greg Zanetti, Ethel Maharg, Jay Block, Rebecca Dow and Louie Sanchez speak during a forum on Nov. 5 in the San Juan College the Connie Gotsch Theatre.

Dow argued for ending the tax on Social Security income and Sanchez suggested using temporary cell towers to bolster internet access to rural areas of the county.

Zanetti said he believed in shrinking the New Mexico Public Education Department, in an attempt to give local school boards more control in education decisions.

Joshua Kellogg covers breaking news for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 or via email at jkellogg@daily-times.com.

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