By Jennie Lusk
Deep in December
Our hearts should remember—and follow
–Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones
Here’s Part I of a long gratitude list, collecting and appreciating some of the significant political people and events of 2022—people and events that made this year so much better than 2021—and incomparably better than any of the years between 2017 and 2021 during a certain insane presidential administration.
• This time last year, Tammy Fiebelkorn was elected in a runoff for City Council, but had not yet begun her term. After not quite a year in office, we’ve got a lot to be grateful for in Fiebelkorn, who has proved herself to be direct, smart, prepared, brave, willing and capable of contributing to the well-being and survival of Albuquerque. When challenged by Holy Rollers who do not believe in a woman’s right to choose for backing a city appropriation for an Albuquerque clinic that could perform abortions, Fiebelkorn didn’t flinch, but responded openly, calmly and proudly, “I believe in a woman’s right to choose” and joined the City Council in affirming the appropriation.Others of her first-year votes of significance included daring to introduce legislation limiting the ability of landlords to gouge applicants through collecting a range of fees potential tenants are required to pay, and joining sponsor Councilor Pat Davis in an ordinance monitoring tax preparers and their practices that have hurt immigrants and uninformed consumers. Not bad for a first year as an Albuquerque city councilor, and one we can acknowledge with gratitude.
• No 2022 gratitude list would be complete in New Mexico without mentioning the thrill of seeing the election of Gabe Vasquez to represent 2nd Congressional District (CD2). In his first term, Gabe will demonstrate who he is – a proven environmentalist with experience in D.C. and a fire in his belly. All those in Bernalillo County who worked for his campaign, all of the volunteers and planners and performers and car clubs that gathered in Albuquerque’s South Valley to bring voters to him and other Dems, and all of the people around the state who wrote postcards urging CD2 voters to support him deserve acknowledgement and gratitude as they help our progressive future evolve. They—we—made all the difference and are sure to see the difference when Mr. Vasquez goes to Washington.
• In 2022, President Joe Biden served another year in the White House doing the country’s business instead of building his ego, and for that we can be grateful too. Helping the Respect for Marriage Act through to become law after Justice Clarence Thomas’ threat to undercut and Obergefell (protecting same sex marriage) and Loving (protecting marriage among people of different races) marked serious, strategic resistance to the insanity of the high court in its actions overturning Roe v. Wade. We can be grateful too for Biden’s leadership for passage of the Inflation Reduction Act whose benefits have hardly issued and his interpretation of existing student loan forgiveness rules while the Court attempts to undo the good student loan forgiveness can do.
• After what must have been a true horror House Speaker Nancy Pelosi with the attack on her husband, it would make sense for any politico to step back and take a breath. We can be grateful for Rep. Pelosi’s service and her determination to unmask the former president while also rejoicing for her willingness to make it possible for Hakeem Jeffries to rise to leadership. Rep. Jeffries has proved himself and will carry the torch of Democrats high to light the way of others to come.
• Generations to come can look to 2022 as the beginning of a new era with the passage of the Early Childhood amendment to the state constitution. New Mexico’s children finally will have the opportunity to receive support and education in the formative years. New Mexico voters approved dedicating a tiny percentage of interest earned on the permanent fund to support children and their parents in the early weeks, months and years of a child’s life. Because of progressives in the state legislature who kept coming back to get the amendment onto the statewide general election ballot and because of statewide voter recognition, new mothers, new parents, babies, toddlers and children through high school will now be able to access childrearing guidance and best practices. We can be grateful for the chance to see the next generations come close to reaching their potential.
• Rep. Debbie Armstrong earned kudos for her consistently busy seven years as a state representative before her retirement in July, 2022 to attend to family matters. She deserves every recognition and honor–and more. Without Rep.Armstrong’s quiet determination and energy, New Mexico would not be one of the country’s four states where a terminally ill person can elect to die with dignity.The Representative led with conviction and passion earned from personal experience and did not waste a moment of her terms. Her service should be a model for every legislator, and her dedication to preserving life choices for terminally ill people has already made a difference for New Mexico families.