By Ryan Lengerich
For many Quay County parents, the Sept. 23 statewide special election vote will be a poll-time decision. But whatever they choose in the end, most agree the issues are important.
Since early voting began, 118 votes have been made in person and 55 votes have been sent by mail. Those numbers are high for a non-candidate election said Ellen White, Quay County Chief Deputy Clerk.
The election will address two educational amendments. Amendment 1 will create a secretary of education and Amendment 2 will provide a temporary boost in education fund distribution.
No additional local issues will appear on the ballot.
Jeanne Tipton, a Tucumcari resident with children in San Jon schools, she is undecided about how she will vote. She was unhappy with the ads using children to persuade voters to favor the amendments because she said the children are not capable of knowing what they were supporting. She said she is undecided because the issues are so important.
“I wonder if the money is going to education,” Tipton said. “Or if they are using education just to get our money.”
New Mexico’s most recognizable supporter of the amendments is Gov. Bill Richardson. Passing Amendment 1 would give Richardson the power to appoint the secretary.
In a visit to Tucumcari Elementary School Sept. 2, the governor urged the students to tell their parents to “vote yes,” a message that made it back to Tucumcari resident Angie Dominguez whose grandson was influenced by the governors remarks.
“That is the first thing he said to me, ‘I saw the governor grandma and he said to vote yes for those amendments’” Dominguez said. Despite the her grandson’s urging, she remains undecided. “I have grandchildren that just started school here and it worries me what is going to happen to them in the future.”
The amendments opponents argue that passing both amendments is nothing more than giving government more power and pulling money from the Land Grant Fund, which is dangerous.
Tucumcari resident Heather Smith said she believes the money will affect some students but isn’t as confident it will benefit the children in this city.
“I have read about both sides,” Smith said. “I was going to vote yes on it but then there was something that said it wouldn’t benefit rural districts.”
While Richardson labeled himself a “champion of rural areas,” during his Tucumcari visit, vowing to make sure the money moves from the capital to places such as Quay County, Tipton is skeptical.
“Is it going to help Tucumcari schools and San Jon schools?” Tipton asked. “Or is it going to help Santa Fe?”