Thursday, July 17, 2008 at 04:37PM

Dear Neighbor,

The district I represent is something special. It is home to among the strongest and richly diverse communities in Albuquerque, if not the entire state.

From the East Gateway area of Albuquerque (Central and Tramway), to the very diverse International District, my constituents are exceptional people. It is my privilege to represent and work for them in the New Mexico State Senate.

I know because I’ve lived in District 17 for 30 years. It’s where I raised my two children – who are all grown up now.

Beyond its diversity though, my constituents share much in common with New Mexicans everywhere. They are working harder than ever before to provide for their families and create a better life for their children.

They want strong and safe community in which their families can thrive.

What stands in their way?

New Mexico’s lack of good jobs and a struggling school system for starters. And in Albuquerque, they’ve experienced an alarming spike in crime over the last two years. All of these conditions hurt families, making their lives less secure and the day-to-day struggle to pay the bills that much harder.

In addition, distressing changes in national policy are taking their toll. Policies that aim to undermine the pillars of family security – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid – are creating more distress for hardworking New Mexicans. With the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act, we were fast approaching the long hoped for day when no family would ever again be one emergency room visit away from financial disaster.

Now that future could be in jeopardy.

But New Mexicans are hopeful and determined, resilient and responsible. We never quit.

How can then we restore confidence that the next generation will be better off than their parents have been, that New Mexico can once again be a land of opportunity? How do we translate this hope into reality?

Creating opportunity – through good schools and higher education – has always been the ladder to success for New Mexicans. Under the Martinez Administration, our schools have never recovered the funding support they received prior to the Great Recession.

That’s why, as a retired classroom teacher, I have always made student success and teaching excellence my number one priorities. And these priorities simply cannot be realized on the cheap.

We need to make smart investments – and this means, among other things, is increasing resources to our children’s classrooms and teachers.

If we do this, we can begin to get our state on the right track and help New Mexico’s families.

Article originally appeared on Senator Mimi Stewart's Website (http://mimistewart.org/).
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