Democratic Party of Bernalillo County

July 14, 2020

The Blue Review

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Day of the Dead Painting 2018 with frame
Americans Died to Defeat Lunatic Tyrants speaks for itself. But its creator, Albuquerque artist Bill Mohr, has also this to say: "We fought wars so citizens would be free to speak openly about their leaders and not be punished. Those veterans have been betrayed because our federal government now has policies that don’t uphold these rights."

New Mexico and the Military

Q&A with Claudia Risner

Q: You have noted that New Mexico’s population includes more veterans per capita than the national average – 10 %, and even more in rural counties. Can you speak to the reason(s) behind this aspect of New Mexican life? Why is it so, and what is the impact on our communities?

A: I think veterans are drawn to New Mexico for a number of reasons. First, New Mexico is a beautiful place to live with numerous options for outdoor recreation, which is a priority for many veterans. Second, NM has a reasonable cost of living which makes the fixed income (i.e., military retirement and disability) that many older veterans live on go further. Third, NM has three USAF bases (i.e., Cannon, Holloman, and Kirtland), the White Sands Missile Testing Range Army Base, and two National Laboratories (i.e., Sandia and Los Alamos) which employ active duty, former, and retired servicemembers. Servicemembers often retire in proximity to a military base to have access to their services and benefits.

The impact that veterans have on our communities varies. Veterans often bring a range of skill sets, a breadth of experience, higher education, and a sense of service above self that both enrich a community and are sought after by employers. Active duty servicemembers have good job security and guaranteed pay and benefits from the Department of Defense. Disabled and retired veterans receive disability and retirement pay from the federal government and are entitled to free medical care through the Veterans Administration (VA). Many veterans receive educational benefits (i.e., GI Bill, Post-9/11 GI Bill, Tuition Assistance), VA home loan assistance, and commissary and exchange benefits. These programs are federally funded and are a source of revenue for veterans living in NM that flows to state agencies, institutions, and local businesses. On the other hand, combat veterans or others struggling with PTSD require attention and services from their community to connect them with VA programs to assist with transition back into society. There are several bridging organizations in NM that cooperate to help our veterans.

Q: On your website, you make the point that military families deserve access to timely, effective, comprehensive healthcare. With only one VA hospital in the state, how can that goal be achieved?

A: Military veterans are eligible to receive free healthcare through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), which is a form of nationalized healthcare service. Family members of military personnel and veterans are not eligible, rather they receive healthcare from a civilian medical provider often using insurance from the TRICARE healthcare program. The single VA hospital in NM poses problems of access to many veterans who live dispersed, often in rural areas of this large state. One way to address this problem would be through expanding and improving the reliability of broadband in rural areas to support the use of telemedicine. Project Echo, developed by an MD at UNM, uses video conferencing to equip primary care practitioners in rural areas with the knowledge they need to provide high-quality specialty care. It moves knowledge, not people. COVID 19 is reinforcing the benefits of, and need for, expanded telemedicine.

Q: You had experience as an Executive Officer of Navy Recruitment 25 years ago. What strategies for recruiting young people do you think would be effective today – for any branch of military service? What immediate or long-term advantages might they expect to gain by joining up?

A: Many of the strategies we used 25 years ago remain relevant. Young people join the military from a sense of adventure, or to continue a family tradition, or for access to opportunities they cannot find at home. Recruiters appeal to all of those motives – a call to service for a cause bigger than self, world travel, a steady paycheck and benefits – and discuss options an applicant has based on their qualifications and the needs of the service. College graduates can join as officers, while high school graduates enlist in the military and have an opportunity to complete a college degree while on active duty and be commissioned through a couple of different programs. Often, more technically oriented applicants are attracted to, and sought by, the USAF and USN for training to become pilots, aviators, submariners, and nuclear engineers.

When you join the military you develop discipline, a work ethic, and an esprit de corps. You strive to live by the core values of your service; for the navy those core values are Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Military personnel receive general and specialized training throughout their time in service, have access to funded off-duty education, receive medical benefits, are paid equally for equal work, and receive a uniform allowance. Long term benefits include a career advancement path with pay raises for time in service as well as promotions, scaled retirement pay at 20-30 years, free healthcare, and access to myriad financial advantages. For many, there is a tremendous sense of service to country and job satisfaction.

Claudia Risner is a Retired U.S. Navy Captain with 29 years of active service. She is also currently a candidate in the running for New Mexico Senate, District 19.

A Memorial Day Like No Other

By Patricia Milner

Memorial Day 2020 is now a part of history wherein the coronavirus had an especially devastating effect on our country: no concerts in parks, no parades of marching bands and veterans, no large gatherings at public places. This year we not only honored and mourned those who died in the U.S. Armed Forces, but also those we have lost to this disease. Some of those included veterans who died in Soldiers Homes and nursing homes.

Initially called Decoration Day and fostered by women to honor the fallen soldiers of the Civil War, the name later changed to Memorial Day to include all those killed in combat and declared to be held on the last Monday in May.

My father served shortly after WW II ended. I remember how Memorial Day was revered back then: Veterans of both world wars proudly walked down Main Street USA, waving to the crowd during the annual parades. Poppies were worn in lapels and handed out to enthusiastic spectators.

Over time, Memorial Day has been conflated with Veterans Day -- the former to honor the dead, the latter the living. Yet in today’s era, Memorial Day largely means a summer rite of passage, a long weekend consisting of car sales, cook-outs, and camping.

New Mexico is strong in military history. In World War II it had both the highest volunteer rate and the highest casualty rate out of all of the forty-eight states in the Union at that time. Almost 50,000 men and women were from New Mexico. In 1942 heavy losses were felt as the result of the Bataan March. After the Japanese defeated the Allies in the Philippines, our soldiers were made to march 65 miles with very little food and water, suffering unspeakable torture and death. Nearly half of the 1800 troops never returned home. In their memory we have a newly renamed Las Cruces Bataan Memorial Clinic. U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) attended the ceremony and stated “By naming the veterans clinic in Las Cruces in honor of the Bataan Death March, we keep the memory of those brave service members alive.”

“In 1965 my dad came home from Vietnam, I realize now that I was one of the lucky ones. While this Memorial Day is different because we are apart, it is no different in its significance,” continued Rep. Haaland. “Today is meant to deeply reflect, respect, and honor the soldiers who never made it back home, as well as the sacrifices their families made."

For a comprehensive list of (and links to) organizations serving veterans locally in Albuquerque, statewide, and nationally, go to

To visit our military museums in New Mexico, click HERE.

Candidate Focus 2020: Now On Our Website

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Visit any time to access all of Candidate Focus 2020, including the races for NM Senate, NM House of Representatives, Bernalillo County Commissioners, County Treasurer, and Public Education Commissioner. It’s a great way to become informed before the June 2 primaries!

Let's Get Out the Vote!

The New Mexico Democratic Party is launching a very smart phone-banking campaign to call Democrats throughout the state about the availability of voting by absentee ballot, and how easy it is. Our county party has stepped up to support this effort.

The New Mexico primary election happens on June 2, 2020. With Covid-19 still present in our community, for many of us, if not all of us, it is ill-advised to go to the polls and vote in person.

Fortunately, we can vote by absentee ballot. The NM Secretary of State, and our County Clerk, have prepared for a high volume of absentee ballots. We can make certain that there is a high volume of ballots cast, and that they are from registered Democrats. That is why we are asking for your help!

Register here to help Get Out the Vote!

The deadline is Thurs, May 28, 5:00 pm: Request an absentee ballot and help reduce the impact of COVID-19

A notice from Marg Elliston, Chair, Democratic Party of New Mexico

New Mexico’s Supreme Court has ruled that in-person voting will still occur during our June primary, which could endanger poll workers and the general public.

The silver lining is that every New Mexican will now receive an application to request an absentee ballot. DPNM is committed to helping as many New Mexicans as possible fill out these applications, so that we can make our voices heard while protecting the health and safety of our communities.

Here are three simple steps you can take to make sure you receive an absentee ballot and reduce the spread of COVID-19:
  1. Make sure your voter registration is up-to-date.
    You can update your voter registration HERE. Be sure that your mailing address is correct, since that is where you’ll receive mail from the Secretary of State.
  2. Request an absentee ballot online.
    You can request an absentee ballot HERE. Requesting a ballot online ensures that you will receive your ballot on time and helps us make sure that more people can vote absentee. Remember that anyone can request an absentee ballot in New Mexico!
  3. Volunteer to phone bank.
    DPNM is launching a phone banking program focused on getting more people to update their voter registration and request an absentee ballot. You can sign up to volunteer HERE.
​​​​​​​Once you’ve taken these three steps, get word to your friends and family. The more people who vote absentee, the safer we will all be. Together, we can keep our communities healthy and still make our voices heard this June!

Community Resource Guide

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DPBC volunteers have put together a comprehensive Community Resource Guide. In this resource, you’ll find everything from ways to support local farmers and food banks, to how to get supplies to senior citizens in need and where to donate dollars to organizations delivering critical social services. Plus lists of places where you can volunteer. As well, there are listings of sources for free meals, child care, unemployment assistance, health hotlines and much more.

Click here for quick access:

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You can help us expand our audience by joining us on social media. Follow us on Facebook at the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County, on Twitter at @DPBC, and on Instagram at bernalillodems.

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Events in Bernalillo County
DPBC Event Calendar: CLICK HERE
Event listings are open to Democratic candidates, their representatives, and organizations whose philosophies are in line with Democratic values. Event listings are a service to the community. They do not indicate endorsement of a candidate by the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County.
Due to coronavirus, please contact event organizers for information regarding cancellations.
Drinking Liberally ABQ Hosts Claudia Risner
Claudia Risner
Drinking Liberally Albuquerque will host a Virtual Meet Up on Zoom.

We'll meet at 6PM for conversation and announcements. BYOB. We’ll hear from Democratic Candidate for NM Senate (District 19) Claudia Risner at 7PM:, Claudia is a Democratic candidate for the NM State Senate (District 19). "In addition to being a retired Navy Captain, Claudia earned her PhD degree in 2018. The research for her Doctorate focused on how four global port cities are adapting to climate change as they deal with sea level rise, chronic flooding and frequent, severe storm damage. The study highlights the adverse impact of politicizing policy making around the climate crisis." - from her webpage Her topic for tonight is: "Why Climate Change is a Threat to our National Security" with special emphasis on pandemics like Covid-19. Please join the Zoom meeting by clicking on the link (no password required) between 6 PM and 7PM to share conversation about the 2020 political scene with fellow liberals. Reminder: Claudia speaks at 7PM.
Learn Virtual Organizing in the Age of Social Isolation
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You are invited to the May 27 online meeting of the West Side Democrats -- it’s one you won’t want to miss. The topic is timely: How to Conduct VIRTUAL Grassroots Organizing During Social Isolation. CLICK HERE to join the webinar.

VIRTUAL ORGANIZING is the “new normal” for getting things done – from grassroots political organizing to working from home to keeping in touch with families during the pandemic. We do it virtually by using social media to communicate, to recruit, to organize. Gone, for the foreseeable future at least, are the days of in-person rallies, canvassing door to door, and meeting in neighborhood party offices to get out the vote.

So how do we jump into the fray? The WSD May 27 Zoom meeting is YOUR STARTING POINT.

Our panelists include:

  • Brian Colón, NM State Auditor, will discuss his use of social media during the pandemic;
  • Flora Lucero, Chair of the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County, will discuss precinct maps and other tools available from the county party;
  • Brenda Pence, Chair of War 16A, will give tips for Ward and Precinct Organizing virtually;
  • Miranda Van Dijk, Democrat Pary of New Mexico Director of Communications, will share state party tools and tips.
  • May 27, 6:00 pm
  • Online via Zoom
    (Advance registration is not required.)
  • CLICK HERE to join the meeting
    Moderated by Emerge President A’shanti F. Gholar
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    Next Thursday (5/28), former DNC Chair Donna Brazile and noted pollster and political strategist Celinda Lake will talk us through this year’s elections and take your questions. They will break down election results for us, provide critical analysis and share the impacts of these results going into November.

    • May 28 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm
    • 2:00 PM PT / 5:00 PM ET
    • RSVP here
    Primary Watch Party with the Risner and Velasquez Campaigns
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    Join Claudia Risner and Jessica Velasquez on Zoom for a Primary Watch Party on Tuesday, June 2 at 7pm. We will celebrate their wins and follow multiple high stakes races across the state. We've put a lot of hard work into Claudia and Jessica's campaigns for the NM Senate and the NM House. Let's celebrate this milestone together and talk about the results as they unfold. Zoom link, meeting ID and password with your RSVP to this link:
    • June 2, 7:00 pm
    Indivisible Nob Hill
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    INH Monday mtg "doors open" at 5:00pm

    Meeting ID: 879 426 908
    Password: 566527

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    Meeting ID: 879 426 908
    Find your local number:
    • Online every Monday until June 1
    • 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
    Individualized Phone Canvassing and Texting Training
    Virtual PB and Txt trainging
    Twiddling your thumbs while staying at home?
    We've got a way to put your thumbs to good use! We are building a team to send out texts, along with a team of phone canvassers, to get out the word about absentee voting and to let folks hear about Claudia's message. It's easy, quick, and best of all, it makes a big difference in our community and our state all while sitting at your own kitchen table. Sign up here and we will be in touch to set up a time for a training.

    This is on-going training.

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