Monday, April 27, 2009

NM Senator Jumps into 2010 Race for Lt. Governor.

On Saturday, we were the first to report the chair of the NM Senate Rules Committee Chair Linda Lopez (D-11) had announced her intention to run for Lt. Governor in 2010.

Lopez told members of the Democratic Party of New Mexico's Central Steering Committee this weekend as they met in the Kiva Auditorium.

If she and current Lt. Governor Diane Denish, who's running for Governor, are both elected it will be the state's first all female executive branch.

We spoke to Senator Lopez on Saturday.

Listen to our interview here.

Lopez told us she's ready to move up.

First elected to the Senate 13 years ago, Lopez believes she has the experience necessary to take the helm of the Senate, develop budgets and told us she'll focus on economic development in the state, and improving access to health care and behavioral health.

Lopez says one issue, near and dear to her heart, is education. If her campaign is successful she said she'll work on improving educational outcomes for Latino students, who make up the majority of student populations in New Mexico.

Lopez also told us that she's pleased some ethics measures passed her committee this year and said she believe ethics measures will continue to work their way through the legislative process for the next few years.

We learned, Lopez submitted her resume to Denish and interviewed for the Lt. Gov's job when it appeared Governor Richardson was headed to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Later, we spoke with Lopez at a local restaurant where she joined the families of missing and murdered Albuquerque women who had gathered to watch John Walsh tell there story to the nation on America's Most Wanted.

Lopez says community leadership needs to take ownership of the problems that led to missing women being found murdered and buried on the a West Mesa.

Listen to her comments on the tragedy and what she's recommending to prevent it from happening again here.

Lopez says she'll work with Quantum [Optum Behavioral Health] to develop statewide programs to help drug addicts get out of the cycle of substance abuse. She says people incarcerated on drug charges shouldn't just be "dropped back into the wild," that they need to be in a treatment process for months and sometimes years.

Lopez says she's working with Lt. Governor Denish to implement new notification procedures including an adult amber alert system.

She said America's Most Wanted did a decent job of recognizing the murdered women as humans and hopes it generates leads to aid police and hopes a suspect is identified.

Lopez photo: MG Bralley

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