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Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham deserves a second term in office

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham recently announced that she will seek a second term in office. I expected it was coming but hearing the announcement gave me a rush of relief. Through the first two and a half years Governor Lujan Grisham has shown the type of reasonable, steady leadership that New Mexico has been desperately seeking. 

The past year has reminded us that the decisions we make when we vote are absolutely crucial. When we voted for the Governor the first time in 2018 we could never have imagined the difficult decisions she would have to make, like how to handle public health during a pandemic. What we did know back then was that Michelle Lujan Grisham was smart, reasonable, and had experience handling complicated decisions. 

During the pandemic, we watched as public officials around the country approached the pandemic in a variety of ways: some of them traveled around the county, some of them arranged super-spreader events, and worst of all, some public officials denied the very existence of a disease that killed our friends and members of our families. 

Here’s what I know about the Governor. When the virus was raging out of control, she oversaw one of the most successful testing programs in the country. We were concerned about our safety, so we got tested in Shiprock, at San Juan College, at the Curative spot in Kirtland, at McGee Park. When we tested positive, the NM Department of Health called us for contact tracing. 

Then the vaccines came, and New Mexico set up a statewide vaccine registration website. We watched as our state literally led the nation in first shots given for weeks in a row. We remain in the top 10 in that category, and we have given more than 70% of our 18+ population their first shot. 

We had a great testing program, then we had an impressive vaccine rollout. That stuff doesn’t happen by accident. That’s what we get for voting for a smart, engaged person like Michelle Lujan Grisham. 

It’s not just her pandemic response that makes me want to give the Governor another four year term. So far during her time in office, we’ve increased teacher salaries by more than 7% and increased the minimum wage to $10.50 (it will go up again in 2022 and 2023!). 

The Governor prioritized the legalization of recreational cannabis, which will create jobs right here in San Juan County. She made certain that all workers statewide are able to earn Paid Sick Leave. We restored the New Mexico Lottery Scholarship to 100% funding meaning students who qualify can now have their tuition paid in full, and put our power grid on the path to full modernization. And I almost forgot: we cut taxes for more than half a million middle-class families.”

The Governor has been busy, and that’s exactly what we need from her. We all know the challenges we face as a state and as a county. We need to continue to invest in our schools. We need to create economic opportunities that our kids, and their kids, will be able to take advantage of. None of that is going to happen on its own- it’ll take fierce determination and responsible leadership. 

It’s impossible to predict what will happen two, or four, or six years from now. None of us would have predicted coronavirus a few years ago. What we can do is put our best people in charge, knowing that they will have to make very tough decisions on our behalf.

Over the last few years, I’ve been reassured to have Governor Lujan Grisham in charge, and I’m excited to see what she will accomplish in her second term.

Eli Pavlik is the chairman of the Democratic Party of San Juan County.