Focus on: Joy Garratt Wants to Speak With You
By Susannah Abbey
Her campaign slogan is “Joy for New Mexico,” and she approaches her work as Representative for House District 29 not only with joy, but also with determination and intelligence. When I spoke to her, she had just finished a Zoom class on economics and policy, in order to better understand economic development at the state level.
Garratt believes in educating herself because she has been a teacher for decades. She taught at Middle Schools in high-poverty areas of the country before coming to Albuquerque to continue her mission of educating our low-income children. She has seen the expression of poverty in the classroom, a result of parents who work nights, children who have to care for their siblings instead of doing homework, having no internet, families who are living out of their cars. Garratt acknowledges that improving the quality of education in New Mexico must be a multi-pronged approach of creating job security, housing security, and raising the minimum wage.
Her first bill was the Grow Your Own Teacher Act, which gives scholarships to Educational Assistants who want teacher’s certification, and guarantees them a way to attend certification classes while still working. These people are perfect for teacher recruitment, Garratt says, because they are rooted in New Mexico.
“Our Educational Assistants inevitably come from the community where they live. They are multilingual—some speak Spanish, Navajo, or Keres. A lot of people get their [teaching] licenses and move away, but our Educational Assistants are here in the community and stay in the schools—you get stability, multicultural teachers.”
In the last session, Garratt also supported a consumer safety bill, a red-flag law for gun owners, and began looking for a way to increase government transparency by televising legislative debates.
Garratt’s opponent, Adelious Stith, is an untested Republican whose only publicly record stance is on opposing rights for transgender students. His web site contains some glossy rhetoric about crime, jobs, and education, but little or no information about how he intends on dealing with these issues. While we all want to live in a city with low crime, good education, and plenty of jobs that pay a living wage, it’s how we get there that makes the difference, and Joy Garratt knows that there are many ways to approach a solution.
“I like to listen to diverse opinions and be honest with people,” says Garratt. “You can’t know everything about everything. With some issues, I’m on the fence and want input.” She encourages constituents of all districts to contact their senators and representatives when they have an opinion about an upcoming bill.
“When there’s a controversial issue, it helps to call in with support. Keep it as short and pithy as possible. People can contact me any time—they don’t need to be in my district.”