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Candidates speak at Democrats’ county convention

From left, U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, D-NM, and New Mexico Supreme Court Justices Shannon Bacon and David Thomson sit at a table Saturday at the Democratic Party of Chaves County’s convention at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Roswell. (Alex Ross Photo)

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Democratic candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives and the New Mexico Supreme Court spoke about their campaigns Saturday during the Democratic Party of Chaves County’s Pre-Primary Convention.

The convention took place at the Fraternal Order of Eagles in Roswell, where, following two rounds of ranked voting, 11 local registered Democrats were elected to be delegates at the state party’s pre-primary convention March 7 in Santa Fe.

The delegates will be among 1,200 elected by county conventions throughout New Mexico to attend the pre-primary convention, where they will decide which party candidates make it onto the ballot and which order they are listed in for contested primary races, Stephanie Thomas, chair of the Democratic Party of Chaves County, said.

Tom Jennings, Flo Wells, Richard Garcia, Virginia Garcia, Michael Trujillo, George Peterson, Eli Luna, Mireya Trujillo, Alfredo Dominguez, Linda Gilmore and Tony Garcia were selected to represent the county party at the pre-primary convention.

U.S. Rep. Xochitl Torres Small, who narrowly prevailed in the 2018 race for the New Mexico 2nd Congressional District, spoke to the crowd about her first two years in office.

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Torres Small thanked those in attendance for their support. The first-term congresswoman is running for re-election. Former New Mexico Rep. Yvette Herrell, Claire Chase and Chris Mathys are vying for the Republican Party’s nomination to face Torres Small in November.

Speaking to the crowd, Torres Small described the past year as a study in representation, and how to go about building the voice of her southern New Mexico district that she said is often forgotten and under-represented.

“So how do we find the way to talk about the issues that matter?” Torres Small said.

One example, she said, is the issue of health care, and making sure that when it is discussed on the national level that a central piece of that conversation be about finding ways to ensure people in rural areas have access to the proper doctors and healthcare professionals.

She touted her work on the Rural Maternal Obstetric Modernization of Services Act, also known as the Rural MOMS Act. The legislation, introduced by Torres Small in September, aims to expand services related to maternal health in rural locations.

“So I am pleased that we get to advance these issues for rural communities, that matter for places across New Mexico, especially the southern half that so often gets ignored,” she said.

Torres Small also touched on other experiences representing New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District.

She spoke about how during a town hall meeting, a man approached her to talk about gun rights and the Second Amendment, while the two women sitting next to him wore “Mom’s Demand Action” t-shirts.

“That is the diversity of our district,” she said.

Candidates in statewide races also spoke about their campaigns.

Shannon Bacon and David Thomson, who were both appointed last year to fill vacant seats on the New Mexico Supreme Court, are running as Democrats in November to retain their seats on the court.

Bacon said Saturday’s convention coincided with the anniversary of newly-elected Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointing she and Thomson to the state’s highest court. They were the first judicial appointments made by Lujan Grisham.

“So we both wear that as kind of a badge of honor that we were first a year ago today, and here we are on the campaign trail,” she said.

Bacon added she and Thomson are traversing the state together campaigning, while also speaking to judges, attorneys and people who come before the court about the challenges they face in the judicial system.

The decisions justices make, she said, have an impact on people ranging from incarcerations to child custody cases and environmental issues.

“So every day we feel the heaviness of the responsibility,” Bacon said.

Thomson said one of the biggest joys for him about being a candidate is traveling across the state and educating people about the role of the judicial branch of government.

Though judicial races often get overshadowed by presidential and congressional elections, he said it is important that people not forget about their judicial races.

“We want you to pay attention, and to pay attention to the judiciary,” he said.

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

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