Soules and Alberson battle in a 50-50 state Senate district
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In an election season that promises to see a slew of close races, one of the closest — at least theoretically — matches Democrat Bill Soules and Republican Cathey Alberson in the state senate race in Las Cruces.
According to the “performance” numbers compiled during redistricting in New Mexico, Senate District 37 is perfectly split — 50 percent performance for Democrats and 50 percent for Republicans.
“It is a tight race when you look at the numbers,” Alberson told Capitol Report New Mexico in a telephone interview Thursday (Oct. 25). “The numbers are what they are,” said Soules in a separate interview.
The race opened up after one-term legislator Steve Fischmann (D-Mesilla Park) surprised Roundhouse lawmakers by announcing last spring that he was stepping down, citing frustration with the legislature and the leadership from both parties.
Fischmann’s exit prompted Soules — a 56-year-old teacher at Oñate High School – and Alberson — a 45-year-old who shares a small chile business with her husband and home-schools four of her children — to jump into the race. Neither has run for legislative office, although Soules (pronounced the same way as the soles of one’s shoes) served eight years on the Las Cruces School Board.
“We spend so much of our state budget on education,” Soules said, “and we need to make sure we have someone who knows how to spend that money wisely.”
“I’m very passionate about education,” Alberson said. “We need to be investing in that and I know we can do better as a state.”
But Soules and Alberson diverge on how to get the state’s education numbers turned around.
Alberson is a firm supporter of ending “social promotion” for third-graders who can’t read at a minimal level — something Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has been pushing since taking office.
“We need to establish that critical foundation of reading,” Alberson said. “We need to strengthen that in the next year when the legislature meets [in a 60-day session].”
“Every student is different,” Soules countered, saying that the retention bill “makes for a good bumper sticker slogan but it doesn’t help the problem. Real solutions are done by working with parents, teachers and communities.”
Soules and Alberson also differ on the another hot-button topic — the state law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants.
“I think it’s a safety issue,” Soules said, adding, “These people are already here,” and repealing the law would “put an unncessary burder on public safety officers.”
Alberson said she “absolutely” approves of overturning the law. “We’re the gateway for people to come here and commit crimes,” adding, “The concept of giving a legal document to an illegal immigrant, that just doesn’t make sense to me.”
Fixing the state’s struggling economy is another priority for Alberson who points in particular to Spaceport (“we’ve come so far and invested so much in that”) and fiscal policies in general. “Government needs to create a business-friendly environment … small business is where the jobs are. If we’re not overtaxed and over regulated we can create more jobs, particularly in southern New Mexico.”
Besides education, Soules says one of his priorities is protecting environmental policies. “They’re the things that make New Mexico the Land of Enchantment,” he said. “I am a supporter of responsible growth and development,” adding he’s a big fan of the proposal for creating a national monument site for the Organ Mountains and increasing solar development in New Mexico.
While the performance numbers are 50-50, Soules has an edge in fundraising, having picked up $23,408 according to the most recent figures from the Secretary of State’s Office while Alberson has raised $13,093.
The largest contributor for Alberson is Susana PAC, the governor’s political action committee, and Soules’ largest contributor was the Committee On Individual Responsiblity – representing trial lawyers in the state — which donated $5,000 to his campaign.
“I run to win and I work really hard — right up until the moment the polls close on Election Day,” Alberson said. “I want to serve the voters.”
“I’ve spent a lot of time knocking on doors,” Soules said. “There are a lot of people in the district who know me, from my time on the school board and such, and I think that’s helpful.”
Here’s Alberson website: http://www.albersonforsenate.com/
And here’s Soules’: http://www.soules4senate37.com/
Posted under Capitol Report.
Tags: Bill Soules, Capitol Report New Mexico, Cathey Alberson, Committee on Individual Responsibility, driver's licenses for illegal immigrants, Onate High School, Organ Mountains, Spaceport, Steve Fischmann, Susana Martinez, Susana PAC