Updated: May 15, 2020 04:49 PM
Created: May 14, 2020 05:04 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- A crowded field is trying to take over New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District seat, which is being vacated by Ben Ray Lujan, who is running for U.S. Senate.
The Republicans in the race include mental health administrator Harry Montoya, gas and oil engineer Alexis Martinez Johnson and Karen Evette Bedonie, a small business owner from Farmington.
KOB 4's Chris Ramirez spoke with Montoya and Martinez Johnson about their candidacy. Bedonie did not participate in the forum.
Chris Ramirez : If we talk about economic recovery, we know that this isn't something that will take weeks, days or months-- we're probably looking at years. So if you are elected into Congress, what ideas do you have in terms of economic recovery for New Mexico and across the country that you think would really work?
Alexis Martinez Johnson: Well, its very important to not apply a blanket approach to New Mexico, specifically, or the United States in regards to shutting it all down. I believe in small economic growth, even if we can get those economic wheels to turn in low risk areas with proper safety measures. I fully support additional revenue for small businesses to keep families employed.
Harry Montoya: On the economic side, we've all seen it-- it's impacting our small businesses. Our small businesses are the backbone of New Mexico and this country. I think we need to look at some balance right now on how we ease up restrictions on the public health side and bring up the economic side.
The candidates also weighed in on social issues, including the U.S. Supreme Court case which will decide whether transgender, gay, and lesbian Americans should have the same protections as other minority groups. The court will address whether employers can fire their employees based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Harry Montoya: That's a no. That's a no. You should not discriminate based on how someone identifies. Personally, I have hired a lot of gay and lesbian people in my organization and that has nothing to do with the work they perform.
Alexis Martinez Johnson: If the individual is employed, and they decide to be transgender and be in a situation like that, I think the employer should have the ability to make the decision, but we will see what the Supreme Court says, and we will follow the rule of the law.
The candidates also addressed how they would advocate for Native Americans, who have been hit hard by COVID-19, and experienced delays in obtaining part of $8 billion dollars in federal relief.
Alexis Martinez Johnson: Our president has been very forthright assisting our Native countries and what not, however, there is a lot of bureaucracy and red tape that we, as conservative Republicans, look to remove. I would push for removal of red tape so that we can all work together.
Harry Montoya: I think it's critical that we work with Indian Health Services and making sure that the administration there is working with the Navajo Nation and local pueblos that has been impacted significantly and do whatever it takes to get that funding and get those supplies. If the federal government isn't playing the role they should be, that's my responsibility to make sure those things are being taken care of.
KOB 4 invited all three candidates to submit a one-minute video message to voters to state their case.
Click on the following links to watch the videos:
Copyright 2020 - KOB-TV LLC, A Hubbard Broadcasting Company