They may not have much money, but two challengers are taking on Sheryl Williams Stapelton
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Erica Landry is running against longtime Roundhouse rep Sheryl Williams Stapleton because she says House District 19 needs change while Hess Yntema is running because he says both Democrats and Republicans are captives to their party leadership and their contributors.
“It’s a very unlikely road to be elected as an Independent,” Yntema said in a telephone interview with Capitol Report New Mexico, “but I want to do it … the parties are largely corrupt.”
Landry says she has three focus points in her campaign: reducing unemployment in the district, education reform and reducing crime in the area. “Everybody absolutely talks about that they’ve been burglarized or their car has been stolen,” Landry said, adding, “People have been putting bars up on their windows, and everybody has their alarms. They’re worried, they’ve been hit or someone on their street has been hit … crime is really the No. 1 issue in the area.”
Rep. Williams Stapleton did not return a message requesting an interview about the race in the southeast Albuquerque district.
Stapleton has had her share of controversies in the past year but this past June, she comfortably beat back a challenge in the Democratic Party primary from law student and mother of four, Cara Valente Compton.
And going into the general election in November, Stapleton has a big lead in contributions. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Stapleton has raised $33,153 while Landry — a Republican — has raised $6,700 and Yntema has raised just $1,000.
“She’s the incumbent,” Yntema said of Stapleton. “She’s raised a ton of money … our representatives are largely proxies for the interests that fund them and their parties … My running is a protest against that.”
“She [Stapleton] is not walking door to door,” Landry said. “She’s not talking to people and I think she’s lost touch with the voters and I’m making that contact.”
Will Landry and Yntema end up splitting the vote, thus making the path to victory for Stapleton even easier?
“Perhaps,” Yntema said. “But whatever the result is, if the people vote fairly, that’s fine.”
Yntema’s name (pronounced INE-tuh-muh) is a familiar one for people in Albuquerque. A lawyer, he served on the city council from 1987-91 and 1999-2003. During those stints, Yntema was identified as a Republican but said he switched to “Decline to State” in voter registration in 2010. He’s lived in District 19 for 32 years.
“The issue I hear most is the economy,” Yntema said. “I want to create more jobs, more good-paying jobs” before turning the conversation back to his frustration with the two-party system.
“Every time you vote for a Democrat or a Republican, you’re supporting their system … A big impediment for us — not just in New Mexico — is the performance of our elected officials. They worry more about party loyalties and their contributors — especially their big contributors — than the voters they’ve been elected to represent.”
Landry has lived in the district since 1993 and formerly served as an adjunct professor at UNM and director of community relations at Santa Fe Public Schools. In 2007 she served as commissioner of the City of Albuquerque Indicator Progress Commission.
A staunch backer of teachers unions, Stapleton is an administrator at Albuquerque Public Schools and has served in the Roundhouse since 1995. She’s currently the House Majority Whip. She came under fire after KRQE-TV and the Albuquerque Journal revealed that contrary to district policy, she was getting paid by APS while attending legislative sessions. APS Superintendent Winston Brooks retroactively changed the policy, saying it was unfair to Stapleton since teachers at APS who served in the Roundhouse were getting paid leave.
A month later, Stapleton shouted at a fellow state rep during a break at committee hearing about “carrying the Mexican’s water on the fourth floor,” where the the offices of Gov. Susana Martinez are located. Stapleton later apologized.
We interviewed Landry on our trusty FlipCam:
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Albuquerque Journal, Capitol Report New Mexico, Cara Valente-Compton, City of Albuquerque Indicator Progress Commission, Erica Landry, Hess Yntema, KRQE-TV, New Mexico Secretary of State, Sheryl Williams Stapleton, Susana Martinez, Winston Brooks