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Senate candidate discusses Roswell’s economic opportunities

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Mick Rich, candidate for U.S. Senate. (Lisa Dunlap Photo)

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The Roswell area has a lot of economic potential related to the people involved in its arts community and its air center, according to Mick Rich.

“As I travel the state, I learned a lot about what makes different parts of the state unique,” said the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.

“There are two things” about the Roswell area, he said. “One is the art that goes on here in Roswell, which surprises people a lot, they have no idea, and the other is airport.”

He said he would be committed to talking about these issues with federal procurement officers, federal contractors, businesses and others who would be able to capitalize on the area’s assets to create jobs and business opportunities.

About the airport, he said, “The facility is solid, but the second thing has to do with the people. You have an industry that is thriving there where they have, they are storing the old commercial airliners. …. That is such a great resource for workers. Why don’t defense contractors set up shop in Roswell?”

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As far as artists are concerned, he said, too few people realize that they are true entrepreneurs, making and selling products.

Also running for the Senate seat are incumbent Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque), who has been in office since 2013 after four years in the U.S. House of Representatives and has amassed a $4 million campaign chest. Rich’s other opponent also is well-known in New Mexico — Commissioner of Public Lands Aubrey Dunn (Libertarian), the son of a long-term state legislator. None of the candidates face a challenger in the June 5 primaries, but they will be up against each other in the Nov. 6 general elections.

A civil engineer and the owner of a construction company in Albuquerque, Rich is making his first run for public office. He visited with the Roswell Daily Record Tuesday as he traveled through southeastern New Mexico to meet with supporters.

Voters, he said, tell him what concerns them.

“It’s about job and opportunities. It’s about safe and secure communities. And the last item of it is the educational system. When I look at it at the federal level, it is about getting the federal government out of the classrooms and allowing teachers to teach.”

He explained that he is most concerned about requirements that force educators to “teach to the test” rather than be concerned about true student learning.

Asked about the proposed interim storage facility site for used nuclear fuel rods that Holtec International and Eddy Lea Energy Alliance intend to build between Carlsbad and Hobbs, Rich said he feels doesn’t have enough information to take a stand yet.

He reiterated his support for strong enforcement of U.S. borders and immigration laws, but conceded that some businesses, including area dairies, rely heavily on immigrant workers. He said the issue is about preventing “open” borders that do not protect either U.S. citizens or immigrant workers.

“There is always going to be a need for immigrants,” he said. “We should be deciding who comes to our country. That is the right of our country. … If we are not having people entering formally into our country, we have a problem.”