Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Candidates are not eager to talk to me

East of Columbus, NM. Captured on my way to a village council meeting.

My accidental job as a news reporter continues, and I have found myself quite busy trying to cover many areas of interest to Luna County readers: local government, economic development, civic life, business climate, culture and entertainment. If there's a problem and someone is trying to come up with a solution, I'm somewhere nearby trying to frame a decent photograph and find someone who will talk to me about it. If there's a problem and no solution, I'm writing about that. Oh, and public meetings, public meetings, public meetings.

With elections underway, I've also been trying to interview people who are running for things and ask them questions pertinent to Luna County's hopes and challenges. A few have done so: local mayors, three candidates for New Mexico Governor (from two parties), and candidates for other state offices.

For those currently seeking federal office, it's been tougher.

There's a Congressional race going on in our district and it's an open seat. Thus far, not a single primary candidate in either party has responded to my invitation for an interview. One of them, whose campaign flack had reached out to me, actually fled a public event after I showed up.

Recently, during a meeting with a southern New Mexico community organizer, I mentioned the fact that candidates seeking votes for Congress from local voters didn't seem keen on talking to the local press. Attempting some levity, I made a sad face and said, "I'm nice."

He shot back: "That's not what I've heard."

Intrigued, I asked what he had heard. And boy, he had me dead to rights: he said, "I've heard you ask a lot of questions."

Guilty as charged.

My questions tend to be about Luna County issues: rural development, energy, the border, unemployment, and water.

Things you might expect someone seeking to represent the region in Congress to have thoughts about.

If these people think I'm a tough interview, I wonder if they're prepared for Washington DC.