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Townsend to receive open government award

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The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government (FOG) has chosen six New Mexicans as the recipients of its 2020 William S. Dixon First Amendment Freedom Awards, presented annually to recognize support for government transparency at the state or local level and contributions to improving transparency in government operations.

District 54 State Rep. and House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia (Submitted Photo)

Among the 2020 recipients is District 54 State Rep. and House Minority Leader Jim Townsend, R-Artesia. According to a FOG press release, Townsend “has been actively advocating for more transparency in government for the last six years. Specifically, he notified the public of the House Appropriations Committee cutting budget deals behind closed doors and worked to stop the “member add” system that allows select members to add public funds to the budget also behind closed doors.

“In 2020, he sponsored three House rule changes to help the public better understand the process and to make it easier to access voting records.”

During the same session, according to the press release, Townsend succeeded in changing a rule requiring the council service to post committee tabling votes online.

“Making those votes public is an important way to hold legislators accountable to the public,” FOG noted.

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Townsend also helped establish the Ethics Commission. He’s honored in the awards’ Government category.

Dixon Award winners will be recognized during a virtual Dixon Award event set for Oct 1.

Other recipients, along with the categories in which they’re recognized, include Teri Garcia and Stefanie Mortensen of Gallup, Citizen category; Ethan Watson, city clerk for Albuquerque, Government category; Adam Flores, Law category; and Ryan Lowery, Media category.

“These New Mexicans believe that open government is good government and instead of giving lip service to transparency and accountability, they acted on their belief,” Kathi Bearden, Dixon Selection chair, said.

The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government was established in 1989 and is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, member-supported organization serving open government interests of the public, business community, elected officials, journalists and lawyers.