Op-Ed Albuquerque Journal
Regarding campaign accountability being as elusive as a piñata (September 20), I would
like your readers to consider a broader solution than Representative Madalena and the
Journal suggested, which is to audit 100 percent of all campaign reports. Going back to
the 1980s there have been calls for an independent ethics commission that could be
tasked with these kinds of reviews. They would be non-partisan and independent. The
appointment process could be worked out just as 42 other states have. Yes, we are one of
only eight states without one and we need one.
But, let’s look at the broader issue. Why is the Secretary of State a partisan office? Is
there anything about that office that seems like it should be partisan? Is there a
conservative or liberal approach evident when it comes to oversight and regulation of the
election system? I think not. How about we make it a non-partisan office along with
judges and law enforcement like many other states?
But hold on. If you follow the logic that the Secretary of State, judges and law
enforcement are not inherently or should not be partisan offices, then take that logic one
step further. Are there any benefits to any offices being partisan? Doesn’t it seem that
hyper-partisanship is the root cause of much of our political gridlock and dysfunction? I
am all for people banding together with like-minded people for a cause. God knows we
need more activism in this country since most people are so frustrated with politics they
checked out a long time ago. But it is high time that we take a step back and ask
ourselves if partisan elections and partisan office holders serve us well. How incumbents
creating their own districts year after year serves the public is beyond me. That is
another function that should be taken over by a non-partisan re-districting commission.
Former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley once said that the parties’ main function in modern
politics is to raise money and funnel it to true believers. This reinforces the left-right
divide fracturing our country.
You should not have to join a party to vote, but right now you have to if you want to vote
in the primaries. New Mexico Open Primaries (nmopenprimaries.org) is a new non-
profit that advocates for non-partisan primary elections so that independents, minor
parties and everyone else can vote in every election. Candidates are selected to move to
the general election with no labels on a non-partisan basis. Candidates and elected
officials have to reach out to the whole political spectrum to get elected and stay elected
which means they need to forge coalitions and compromise to actually get things done.
Three states have adopted non-partisan primaries with the top two vote getters going to
the general election and it has reduced partisan rancor, increased voter enthusiasm and
improved the legislative process so that legislators actually work together to get things
done or they don’t get re-elected.
New Mexico has an ethics problem, but we also have a campaign finance problem, an
election system problem and a legislative process that works less well each year. The
2016 legislative session is the perfect time to pass these needed reforms so that we create
a trusted and functioning public election and legislative system of which hard working
New Mexicans can be proud.
Founder, New Mexico Open Primaries
Former New Mexico State Representative