Progressives gathered Saturday (May 6) to welcome New Mexico legislators to Taos Mesa Brewing for a question-and-answer session where community members were allowed to ask specific questions about their concerns for the community.
Organized by Taos United, a local nonpartisan progressive group, the meeting allowed for private citizens and members of local political and action groups to put the legislators on the hot seat for several topics about the upcoming special session on May 24. Reps. Bobby Gonzales, D-Taos, and Debbie Rodella, D-Española, along with Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, took turns speaking with their constituents.
The event was attended by more than 50 individuals, largely representing the left-wing Caucasian baby-boomer generation in the Taos area. Taos United co-founder Cristy Holden says the organization plans to continue holding meetings in the future. She said that one of the group’s main focuses is to get people active and push for a fair and open government – regardless of party affiliation.
“Taos County is extremely progressive,” said Holden. “We know that from the Bernie Sanders campaign. We’re not here to argue with anybody. We’re here to promote good government.”
The meeting was open to the public. However, it catered to the priority of progressives. As a statement emailed from Taos United said, “When you hold the party, you get to set the agenda.”
Among many topics discussed was the addition of alternative energy sources to refuel the state’s budget deficit in coming years. New Mexico has struggled with a shortfall, and lawmakers of both major parties have been looking for alternative ways to generate revenue for the state while Gov. Susana Martinez stands firm on her stance of no new taxes. Cisneros discussed the possibility of adding a small tax per gallon of gasoline, which he believes would generate subsequent funds to replenish a hole in the deficit.
While the legislators commented about the governor’s reluctance to work with them on budget approvals and several other issues, Cisneros assured the public that they are working to compromise and will do so during the special session.
“The failure of a bill to pass gives us an opportunity to revisit it the next year,” Cisneros said during the event.
The Taos News attempted to contact Taos County GOP Chairman Ken Scarborough, First Vice Chair James Mitchell and Second Vice Chair Sadie Boyer, all of whom could not be reached for comment.