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Torres Small stumps in Roswell

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With midterm elections less than three months away, Democrat Xochitl Torres Small was in Roswell Tuesday campaigning to represent New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

Torres Small said she met with local leaders and later spoke at a campaign event hosted by the Democratic Party of Chaves County.

A water rights and natural resources attorney from Las Cruces, Torres Small is the Democratic candidate in the race for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses southern New Mexico, including Roswell.

Torres Small faces state Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican from Alamogordo, in November’s election. The seat is now held by Steve Pearce, a Republican. Pearce opted not to seek re-election and instead run for New Mexico governor.

The race is Torres Small’s first time running for office. She said the campaign is challenging and energizing.

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“It’s been overwhelming everywhere I go,” she said.

Torres Small said that when she returns to a community she has campaigned in before, more people show up than the time before.

The 2nd District is a sprawling, heavily rural district, the fifth largest in the U.S. and the largest not to be composed of an entire state. The district historically has favored Republicans. A Republican has represented the 2nd District in the U.S. House since the early 1980s with the exception of the 2009 to 2011 congressional session.

Despite its electoral history, Torres Small said the district is diverse.

“I think having grown up in the district and knowing that Independent streak is really important,” she said.

Torres Small told attendees at a campaign event that she will work to put the interests of New Mexico before those of her party.

“We shouldn’t be trying to vote 100 percent to be the most conservative or liberal member of the body you are in,” she said. Instead we should be building bridges and if anyone is not doing that, I don’t think they are working in our best interests.”

Torres Small said that many people have moved out of New Mexico. Although they love the state, she said many people feel they have to leave the state to get better opportunities for themselves and their children.

She said to bring that opportunity to New Mexico requires investments in infrastructure — cellphone service and broadband internet in rural areas — as well as upgrades to roads and money for early childhood education.

She said healthcare is an issue she has heard about a lot on the campaign trail.

Expectant mothers in the district sometimes have to drive two hours out of state for all of their prenatal appointments.

Portions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — need to be kept in place, she said. She said nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can also be used to shorten waiting periods.

The tariffs President Donald Trump is threatening to impose on other nations represent “a huge problem” for farmers, Torres Small said.

Trump has threatened tariffs on the European Union, China and other markets that he said impose trade barriers that are unfair to American business and agriculture producers.

Though she acknowledges there are regulations and trade barriers that exist and should be looked into, tariffs are not the answer, she said.

“We need a carefully thought-out plan when it comes to to international relations that can impact the lives and livelihoods of our farmers,” she said.

The partisan tone the debate on immigration has taken among lawmakers has made the problem of illegal immigration worse, Torres Small said.

Congress needs to ensure the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents on the southern border have the resources and technology they need to secure the border, but the nation also needs to have a “clear and moral immigration system.”

“The more that we are able to make sure that the people who love this country, who want to serve this country and do not have a criminal record have a pathway to citizenship, the easier it will be to enforce our border laws against those dangerous people that we want to keep out,” she said.

Torres Small said she does not support calls to abolish Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, the agency responsible for enforcing immigration law within the U.S., because she said doing so would not prevent abuses of power or help enforce immigration laws.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.