Diversity and the New Mexico Legislature | The Line

1332 Line Diverse Voices In The Roundhouse

February 7, 2020  Gene Grant and the Line opinion panel look at diversity in state government, including New Mexico’s long history of electing women of color. They also explore the reason why the Speaker of the House stopped the longstanding practice of inviting diverse guest speakers of many faiths to give the daily invocation to open each day of the session. (This segment is part of our #YourNMGov project, in collaboration with KUNM radio and the Santa Fe Reporter, and funded by the Thornburg Foundation and New Mexico Local News Fund)

Line Panelists:
Dan Foley, former state representative
Cathryn McGill, NM Black Leadership Council 
Dave Mulryan, founder, Everybody Votes 
Laura Sanchez-Rivét, attorney 

For Further Reading: 
Why New Mexico Elects More Women Of Color Than The Rest Of The Country FiveThirtyEight.com
House speaker ends invocations by clergy following Native activist’s prayer Santa Fe New Mexican
Native activist whose prayer sparked ire in the House is disinvited from Senate Santa Fe New Mexican 

Transcript:

>>GRANT: GWYNETH’S COVERAGE IS PART OF THE YOUR NEW MEXICO GOVERNMENT PROJECT, A PARTNERSHIP WITH KUNM RADIO AND THE SANTA FE REPORTER. ONE OF THE THINGS GWYNETH TRIES TO DO EACH WEEK IS TO GET A DIVERSE MIX OF LAWMAKERS TO TALK TO, WHETHER THAT MEANS POLITICAL PERSUASION, GENDER, GEOGRAPHY OR A HOST OF OTHER CONSIDERATIONS. IT IS NOT ALWAYS EASY BUT THE 538 WEBSITE POINTS OUT, NEW MEXICO DOES IT BETTER THAN MOST WHEN ELECTING DIVERSE WOMEN TO PUBLIC OFFICE.  WE’LL START THIS LINE DISCUSSION WITH DIVERSITY ON THE 538 ARTICLE. DAVE, THE AUTHOR HAS A LONG HISTORY OF ELECTING WOMEN OF COLOR, STARTING WITH SOLIDAD CHAVEZ CHACON ELECTED SECRETARY OF STATE WAY BACK IN 1922. WOMEN HAVE ROLE MODELS HERE. IT IS AN INTERESTING THING AND THINGS BUILD ONCE YOU START.

>>MULRYAN: IT IS AND I THOUGHT THE ARTICLE WAS QUITE INTERESTING BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T VOTE STEPHANIE GARCIA RICHARDS STATE LAND COMMISSIONERS BUT I WOULD HEDGE A LITTLE BIT BY SAYING, I WAS RUNNING THE PRC CAMPAIGN AND WE KEPT INTERSECTING WITH HER CAMPAIGN WHEN SHE WAS RUNNING FOR THE STATE LAND OFFICE. I MEAN, THIS WOMAN, YOU CAN LOOK AT HER. SHE IS A GIFTED POLITICIAN, WHETHER MALE OR FEMALE, AND I THINK THAT WHEN YOU LOOK AT HER RECORD IN THE HOUSE AND HOW GOOD SHE WAS, I AM QUESTIONING WHETHER OR NOT IT IS A FEMALE THING OR A GOOD POLITICIAN VERSUS NOT A GOOD POLITICIAN. BUT I THINK THAT IT IS ALSO A QUESTION OF, YOU KNOW, WITH IMPEACHMENT THAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK, ONE COULD THINK ABOUT BARBARA JORDAN WHO GAVE THAT SPEECH COMING OUT OF THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE WHICH KIND OF AS SOME WOULD SAY CAUSED RICHARD NIXON TO RESIGN.  AND SO I THINK THAT I GET –

>>GRANT: BARBARA JORDAN LEGENDARY WOMAN OF COLOR, BLACK WOMAN FROM TEXAS.

>>MULRYAN: GAVE AN AMAZING SPEECH AT THE HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE INVOKING ALEXANDER HAMILTON AND THE CONSTITUTION. THIS IDEA THAT A PERSON, YOU KNOW, THIS IDENTITY POLITICS IS SOMETHING BUT WHEN YOU SEE A GOOD POLITICIAN, IF YOU HAVE AN EYE FOR IT, YOU KNOW IT IS A GOOD POLITICIAN.  AND I AM NOT CONVINCED THAT WE DO ANYTHING SPECIAL EXCEPT WE HAVE WOMEN WHO ARE GOOD POLITICIANS.

>>GRANT: PICK UP ON THAT.  IS IT WHAT DAVE IS SAYING OR SOMETHING EXTRA WE ARE NOT SEEING.

>>MCGILL: I WOULD AGREE WITH HIM AND MY PASTOR BACK IN OKLAHOMA USED TO CALL ME HIS LITTLE BARBARA JORDAN. I THINK BY HAVE LOTS OF WOMEN WHO ARE ACTIVE IN POLITICS IN NEW MEXICO AND EMERGING, DOING A LOT TO TRAIN WOMEN TO RUN FOR OFFICE, AND BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN WINNING.  ONE THING THAT I WILL SAY ABOUT THE ARTICLE IS WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT WOMEN OF COLOR, THAT THEY KIND OF EXCLUDE BLACK WOMEN IN THAT, IN NEW MEXICO. IT FOLLOWS THAT TRI-CULTURAL NARRATIVE AGAIN. IT IS NOT NECESSARILY TRUE FOR BLACK WOMEN, ALTHOUGH WE DO HAVE TOO.  THE ARTICLE TALKED ABOUT THE FACT THAT IT IS NOT JUST THE NUMBER OF WOMEN BUT THE POSITIONS THEY HOLD.

>>GRANT: WE SHOULD MENTION OF COURSE CHERYL WILLIAMS STAPLETON, INSTITUTION.

>>MCGILL: SHE IS.

>>GRANT: INSTITUTION. SAME AS POWDRELL. YOU KNOW, SHE HAS BEEN THERE FOREVER AND YOU HEAR HER VOICE. DAN, YOU KNOW FROM THE STATE OF THE STATE, WE HEAR HER VOICE LEADING THE CHARGE THERE. YOUR SENSE OF THIS ABOUT WOMEN AND DIVERSITY AND HOW IT HAS WORKED IN NEW MEXICO. IS IT JUST SECOND NATURE FOR US NOW? WE DON’T THINK ABOUT IT THAT MUCH.

>>FOLEY: YOU HAVE TO REMEMBER WE ARE A MAJORITY-MINORITY STATE.  IT IS NOT LIKE WE ARE TALKING ABOUT, YOU KNOW, THE DIVERSITY WHERE THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF PEOPLE IN THE STATE ARE PEOPLE OF NON-COLOR. THIS IS A TRUE MAJORITY MINORITY STATE. SO, I THINK THAT IS HELPFUL. I THINK HAVING A CITIZEN LEGISLATURE IS HELPFUL. IT GIVES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MORE PEOPLE TO HAVE TIME TO GET INVOLVED THAT IF WE WERE PAYING PEOPLE $250,000 A YEAR, YOU MIGHT NOT SEE THAT. LOOK, WE SERVED WITH TONS OF WOMEN. CHERYL STAPLETON IS A FRIEND OF MINE. POWDRELL IS A GOOD FRIEND OF MINE. THEY ARE GREAT PEOPLE.  LOOK, CHERYL AND I, I DON’T THINK WE VOTED FOR THE SAME PIECE OF LEGISLATION EVER, BUT YOU COULDN’T FIND PEOPLE THAT CARED MORE ABOUT THEIR CONSTITUENCIES AND WHAT THEY ARE WORKING ON IN NEW MEXICO. SO, I THINK IT IS UNIQUE IN NEW MEXICO AND I THINK IT IS A UNIQUENESS WE SHOULD EMBRACE. I REMEMBER WHEN I STARTED IN THE LEGISLATURE, THE REPUBLICAN SIDE, WE HAD AFRICAN AMERICANS, HISPANICS, WE HAD MARRIED WOMEN, SINGLE WOMEN, WE HAD YOUNG, OLD, NATIVE AMERICAN.  SO, IT SEEMS THE DIVERSITY IS ACROSS PARTY LINES IN NEW MEXICO TOO, WHICH IS EVEN MORE OF A TELLING TALE FOR OUR STATE THAN IT IS JUST NUMBERS IN GENERAL.

>>GRANT: PICK UP ON THAT. AGAIN, IS THIS JUST SECOND NATURE? WE JUST DO IT AND DON’T THINK ABOUT IT.

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: I THINK NEW MEXICO CULTURALLY IS MORE OPEN TO IT BUT I ALSO THINK THAT THERE IS SOMEWHAT OF A GENERATIONAL ISSUE. OF COURSE, CHERYL WILLIAMS STAPLETON AND POWDRELL HAVE BEEN THERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME. THEY ARE INSTITUTIONS, TRULY, AND GREAT LEADERS. BUT I DO THINK ALSO WHEN I FIRST MOVED TO NEW MEXICO, AFTER HAVING SPENT TIME IN ARIZONA AND POLITICS, WORKED IN CALIFORNIA, I WAS SURPRISED AT HOW FEW WOMEN THERE WERE IN GENERAL, NOT JUST WOMEN OF COLOR BUT WOMEN COMPARED TO OTHER STATES. IN ARIZONA, AT THE TIME AT A TIME WE HAD 50% WOMEN AND IT WAS BIPARTISAN. I ALSO LIVED THERE AT THE TIME WHEN WE HAD THE FAB 5. ALL FIVE EXECUTIVE OFFICES WERE HELD BY WOMEN. I CAME HER AND IT FELT LIKE IT WAS MUCH MORE MALE DOMINATED. THERE IS A LOT OF HISPANIC AND A LOT OF NON-HISPANIC, I DON’T KNOW. OTHER. AND SO, BUT IT DOES REFLECT, I THINK, CULTURALLY WHAT WE SEE IN THE STATE A LOT MORE.  BUT I ALSO THINK THERE HAS BEEN SOME VERY SPECIFIC EFFORTS TO TRY TO GET MORE DIVERSE VOICES ELECTED ON BOTH SIDES. WE JUST HAD FIRST LA TINA GOVERNOR, EVER REPUBLICAN. SO THERE IS EFFORTS ON BOTH SIDES TO INCREASE THE NUMBER.

>>GRANT: DIVERSITY IS RARELY AN EASY TOPIC TO DISCUSS. ONE PLACE WHERE THE ISSUE CAME TO A HEAD IS THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES WHERE IN JANUARY, NATIVE ACTIVIST, LEE MOQUINO, DELIVERED AN INVOCATION IN BOTH ENGLISH AND TEWA THAT REMINDED LAWMAKERS OF SANTA FE’S NATIVE PAST AND CALLED FOR LESS DRILLING NEAR CHACO CANYON. THAT IRKED SOME LAWMAKERS. THE HOUSE HAS SINCE HAD MEMBERS SAY THE INVOCATION AND THE SENATE DISINVITED MR. MOQUINO FROM A PLANNED INVOCATION THIS MONTH.  THE INVOCATION IS USUALLY A BENIGN AFFAIR.  DID MR. MOQUINO OVERSTEP. OR DID SPEAKER EGOLF DECISION SMACK OF POLITICS?  HOW DID YOU READ THAT?

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: I CAN SEE BOTH SIDES. I THINK WHEN YOU HAVE SOMEBODY WHO HAS A HISTORY OF ACTIVISM DOING AN INVOCATION, I THINK YOU HAVE TO EXPECT THAT THERE IS GOING TO BE SOMETHING MUCH MORE EDGY THAN A NORMAL, REGULAR SORT OF INVOCATION. SO, I THINK, YOU KNOW, HE SPOKE FROM HIS HEART. HE WAS SPEAKING ABOUT HIS TRUTH AND HIS EXPERIENCE AND INCLUDING THAT AS PART OF A BLESSING. BUT I CAN ALSO SEE THE OTHER SIDE WHERE PEOPLE, THEY EXPECT TO HAVE AN INVOCATION THAT IS ACROSS DIFFERENT AISLES, ACROSS DIFFERENT ISSUES.  YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BE ONE SIDED OR POLITICAL BECAUSE IT IS IMPORTANT TO A LOT OF PEOPLE TO HAVE THAT INVOCATION RIGHT OFF THE BAT.

>>GRANT: GET TO DAVE REAL QUICK. GET EVERYBODY IN HERE. INTERESTING LITTLE FOOTNOTE, HE WAS FILLING IN THAT DAY, ACTUALLY, AND MAYBE HE JUST FIGURED I DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ASK, WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO TALK ABOUT, WHAT IS THE INVOCATION. WHO KNOWS.

>>MULRYAN: MAYBE HE GETS TO SAY WHAT HE WANTS, RIGHT? BUT I THINK THAT ALSO, WHEN SOMEONE INVITES YOU TO DO SOMETHING THAT IS HIGH LEVEL, HIGH PROFILE THING THAT YOU DO, BEING POLITE AND MAYBE NOT PUSHING A POLITICAL AGENDA WOULD BE MY SUGGESTION. HE GETS TO DO WHAT HE WANTS. I THINK THAT THE LAWMAKERS, I MEAN, IF EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL ABOUT IT, EVEN WHEN YOU’RE DOING INVOCATION, I MEAN, WE COULD JUST HAVE A LITTLE BIT OF A BREAK. I THINK WE COULD HAVE JUST DONE IT, KEEP IT SIMPLE AND MOVE ON. THERE IS PLENTY OF TIME TO LOBBY IN THE HALLWAY.

>>GRANT: JIM TOWNSEND, I KNOW HE HAD A PROBLEM, WHEN HE SAID, SPEAKER, THE POLITICALLY CHARGED PRAYER HAS NO PLACE IN THIS CHAMBER.

>>FOLEY: WHEN I WAS THERE, WE HAD A LONG-STANDING RABBI THAT DID A LOT OF IT FOR US AND HE PASSED AWAY A FEW YEARS AGO. WE HAD CATHOLIC PRIESTS, YOU KNOW, IT WAS ALWAYS — I JUST FELT LIKE IT WAS ALWAYS ASKING TO BLESS THE CHAMBER. IT WAS ALWAYS KIND OF A NICE START TO THE DAY, KIND OF LIKE THAT SPEECH BEFORE THE MUD SLINGING.  CAN WE ALL JUST GET ALONG. ALL RESPECT EACH OTHER. REMEMBER GOD IS WATCHING EVERYBODY AND EVEN THE FOLKS WHO CAME IN WHO WERE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT THE WORD IS, THEY COME IN AND TALK ABOUT MOTHER EARTH AND NOBODY GOT UP WAS LIKE MOTHER EARTH WANTS YOU TO STOP DRILLING. I THINK IT WAS REALLY POOR TASTE TO GO INTO A PLACE TO GIVE THIS INVOCATION — INVOCATION MEANS PRAYER. IT DOESN’T MEAN SPEECH.  IT DOESN’T MEAN RALLY.  AND NOT TRY TO WALK OUT OF THERE AND SAY, LOOK, I BROUGHT BOTH SIDES TOGETHER, GAVE THEM A FEW SECONDS BEFORE THE BELL RANG AND THE FIGHT WAS ON. KIND OF REFLECT ON WHAT THEY SHOULD THINK OF. I THINK IT WAS THREATENED BY THE SPEAKER TO STOP IT.

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: I HAVE BEEN ASKED THAT — I WAS RAISED CATHOLIC, I CONSIDER MYSELF A RECOVERING CATHOLIC, BUT I SAT THROUGH INVOCATION, BLESSINGS SERMONS THAT INCORPORATED A LOT OF POLITICAL VIEWS, ANTIABORTION VIEWS.

>>FOLEY: AT THE ROUNDHOUSE?

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: WE ARE TALKING ABOUT BLESSINGS BEING NONPOLITICAL. MANY CLERGY INCORPORATE POLITICS INTO THEIR SERMONS.

>>MCGILL: THIS IS A NONPOLITICAL MOMENT AND WE WANT TO ASK PEOPLE TO INVOKE DIVINE RIGHT ACTIONS AND THEN I WOULD SAY TO THE SPEAKER, SAY, THAT DIDN’T GO AS WELL AS WE LIKE, SO WE ARE NOT GOING TO DO THAT ANY LONGER. INSTEAD OF SAYING THAT WAS –

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: WE ARE NOW HAVING MEMBERS DO INVOCATION, BECAUSE THEY ARE IN THE TRENCHES.

>>FOLEY: I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY THE SPEAKER MADE A POLITICAL COMMENT, BECAUSE IT SEEMS LIKE THE PEOPLE FIRED UP AS ANYBODY WERE REPUBLICANS. THERE WAS EQUAL OPPORTUNITY DONE. I THINK YOU SHOULD EMBRACE THAT AND TAKE KUDOS WITH IT.

>>SANCHEZ-RIVET: THERE MAY BE A POPULATION, NATIVE AMERICAN, WHO FEEL STRONGLY ABOUT THE ISSUES THAT HE SPOKE ABOUT AND I DON’T THINK HE WANTED TO OFFEND THEM IN ANY WAY BY SAYING THE ISSUES HE BROUGHT UP WERE ILLEGITIMATE, SOMEHOW. IT WAS JUST MORE OF A TIME AND PLACE. I THINK HE WAS PROBABLY WAS A LITTLE BIT CAREFUL ABOUT CALLING IT A POLITICAL ACTION.

>>GRANT: TOUGH SPOT. THAT WILL DO IT FOR OUR LEGISLATIVE LOOK THIS WEEK. THE SESSION ENDS, OF COURSE, FEBRUARY 20TH.  UP NEXT WE TALK TO THE PRODUCE OF A POD CAST ON THE WEST MESA MURDERS, AND WE ARE BACK WITH THE LINE TO TALK ABOUT A LAWSUIT AGAINST KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE FOR THE FUEL SPILL CLEAN-UP.

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