Tucumcari Assistant Superintendent Dennis Roch is a freshman lawmaker taking his seat Tuesday in Santa Fe.
Roch is replacing Brian Moore of Clayton.
“It’s going to be a worthwhile job. I’ve got big shoes to fill,” he said.
Roch said he will support increased opportunities in education, improvements to rural healthcare, diversifying revenue sources and making the state friendly to new businesses.
Education is particularly important to Roch, as he has served on the state Public Education Commission since 2004 and was chair of the commission in 2006.
“Rural schools are very much strapped on opportunities for students,” he said. “Students at rural schools may not have the same opportunities as students in Albuquerque” currently, but Roch aims to improve this situation.
Rural healthcare issues are also a concern of his, particularly rural emergency services.
“It’s all well and good to have doctors in cities, but if the ambulance can’t get to you, you really don’t have access to the doctor in town,” he said.
Roch said by supporting improvements in rural healthcare, he is also supporting the development of new business.
“If a business person is looking to expand, they are going to look for tax climates. Does it treat businesses friendly? Is it difficult to build?” he said, but these business people also “aren’t going to put their family in a town where they have to travel two hours or more to get healthcare.”
In these times of economic struggle, Roch said he believes one solution is using alternative energy to generate revenue from outside the state, particularly with eastern New Mexico’s strong wind.
“It’s a big opportunity for eastern New Mexico. We have resources that generate a lot of energy, but because of our population we don’t consume as much energy,” Roch said. He would like to see “transmission lines across the state and feed the markets that really need the energy.”
The new legislator says he will also represent the conservative region on laws concerning gay marriage, taxes and other hot button issues.
“There are going to be some issues about legalized domestic partnerships and gay marriage. That’s not something eastern New Mexico residents support, they are strongly against that,” Roch said. “Also, tax increases are always on the table. Eastern New Mexico residents are taxed plenty, in fact, too much. We don’t want to raise taxes, there’s a lot of protection for the tax payer that needs to happen.”
Roch said he also realizes agricultural issues are important to his constituents.
“There are a lot of folks that are worried that our gun rights and property rights are at stake. If there are efforts to infringe on them at the state level, I will stand up for them. Farm and ranch is an important way of life and it is going to be something that needs protecting,” Roch said.
He also said he wanted eastern New Mexico residents to know “We hold family and our faith in God very dearly.”