Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Governor candidate Gary Kings speaks on issues

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New Mexico’s attorney general, now the Democrat candidate for governor, Gary King flew into Clovis on Friday for a town hall question and answer session on education.

King is running against Republic Gov. Susana Martinez in the November general election.

The CNJ asked King questions about his positions and his campaign.

His answers are edited for clarity:

What kind of programs would you bring to create more jobs, particularly in eastern New Mexico?

I think for economic development ... say here in the eastern part of the state, that we should sit down with people and say, what do you think your strengths are? Where do you want to go? What do you want to do?

We’re not seeing that much of this in the state. But if people were moving in a direction that they feel like is productive, then you get a lot more energy. So, number one ... is to get everybody in the community involved.

Number two is ... to develop the infrastructure that we need to support the kind of business that we want.

Roads are such an important issue. We’ve been ignoring ... the decay of our road system for quite a while ... we haven’t been keeping up the infrastructure. Roads, sewer, water, those kinds of things.

I think having a good education system is really important. Because if we want to bring in companies that have been sited previously in Texas or in California or somewhere like that, we want to make them feel like our school system’s competitive with those other school systems.

In our tax policy, instead of focusing our largesse on one or two large corporations, we should focus a lot more on tax incentives for small business.

I have an example because I had a small business. If you’re in a small business and you go out and you buy a new computer or a new Xerox machine ... you have to pay additional taxes on those. It really squelches the enthusiasm of small business to improve their equipment.

If you have companies that use some sort of large equipment, say drill presses ... you know we tax the equipment in New Mexico. That actually is something that has caused us a lot of problems in helping small businesses to grow.

I think that there are some specific things we can do tax policy-wise that encourage the growth of small, local business and don’t just go out and try and search out ... one big company. For instance ... if Tesla had sited in Sandoval County, it would have really not done very much for the economic climate in Roosevelt County or Curry County.

Today (on Friday) you talked a lot about standardized testing of students. Aren’t we just teaching our children how to pass tests? And if that is true, how do you propose to change this?

Yes. I am very concerned that we spend maybe as much as 30 percent of our time in school now teaching students how to take standardized exams. That’s time that we’re not using to teach them how to be innovative or ... to think in a way that ... develops good cognitive skills so that they can take facts and pull them together and draw a conclusion. The standardized tests don’t really test your ability to do those kinds of things.

I don’t believe that we have to have the testing regime that we have now. I think that it really is something ... designed to help corporate America make a profit off our students.

I saw a lot of enthusiasm here today (Friday) from educators. Our own educators and our own school systems know how ... to test what it is that we’re teaching our students. I’d very much like to go back to that model. Where the local school board, the local administrators, the local educators set their goals and decide whether they can meet them.

Nationally, there appears to now be a turnaround and some discussion about ... if we had three standardized tests during a 12-year period — one in grade school, one towards the end of middle school, one towards the end of high school — that would be enough to measure whether we are improving or not improving compared to the rest of the country or the rest of the world.

Water is a major concern in eastern New Mexico. What is your position on the Ute Water Project and how would you work to help it start pumping water into this area before we reach a crises?

I don’t exactly know what the progress of the Ute water system is, but when I was in the Legislature 20 years ago, we were talking about that then.

When I was in the Legislature we worked to develop a statewide water plan. Systems like the Ute system should be part of that water plan.

If we prioritize where we’re going to spend our money ... if we say look, this is an important project, and it is an important project to help economic development in this region, we should then be willing on a statewide basis to focus our resources on something like that.

Right now ... there might be several hundred million dollars worth of capital outlay monies that are laying on the table because they haven’t been expended.

We should focus on some of these projects at the state level. Then get the resources to get it done.

Let’s talk about money. Your opponent has a much larger war chest. How do you realistically expect to get your message out and get elected?

There is this theory out there across the country that whoever has the most money wins. It’s never been my theory.

My campaign for two years now has really has been focused on getting into communities. Talking to people. Letting people know ... what I think. It’s a slower way of getting your message out.

In modern times, in modern elections — and we’ll find out in this election — there’s a lot more discussion on social media amongst people and their peers and their friends about who they like for office and such. That actually is about as influential as the high-dollar advertising that’s going on with television.

So, we feel like we’re offsetting the money advantage that the governor has through these peer-to-peer interactions. Particularly with educators. You know this is the 13th town hall that we’ve had around New Mexico relating to this and I believe that educators across the state know that the only way they can change the direction that we’re going is to elect a new governor.

— Compiled by

Projects Editor Robin Fornoff