Residents unite across party lines to protect values: Taos County petition drive underway

By Sarah Valente

May 16, 2023

Residents of Taos County have long prided themselves on holding values that run deeper than political labels, though we have voted Democrat generationally due primarily to social welfare policies. The Catholic Church plays a key role in our community, with about 63% of the population identifying as Catholic. From the early days of the pro-life movement, the Catholic Church has taken the lead in advocating for the protection of the unborn. The Church’s unwavering biblical teachings on the sanctity of life have encouraged many to stand for life from conception to natural death. These core beliefs are still tightly held by the majority of Catholics and therefore assumedly by the majority of Taoseños. 

Legislative actions by lawmakers in Santa Fe continue to reveal a shocking disconnect between our legislators’ goals and the values of our citizenry. This schism has left many in the community feeling unheard and unrepresented, certainly without a political party with which they can fully align. Several recent bills, covering topics ranging from abortion to voting rights, have sparked concern among Taos County residents and have prompted impassioned calls for action.

A bipartisan referendum effort is underway this month across the state of New Mexico, and the Republican Party of Taos County is highly involved in the local effort. The RPTC urges residents across party lines (in addition to residents who are not registered to vote) to research these concerning bills. If you find that they violate your values, you are invited to sign petitions for a referendum against some or all of them, as is the process outlined in our New Mexico Constitution. A successful referendum effort will allow the aforementioned bills to be voted on by the people in the next general election instead of becoming law against our will.

Opposition to HB-7 stems from concerns about its expansion of access to abortion and restrictions on healthcare providers who would refuse to provide abortions based on moral or religious objections. Many parents and grandparents across the state view it as a brazen attack on pro-life values and express deep concerns over the bill’s promotion of gender transition procedures and practices. SB-397 faces similar opposition, as opponents argue that the state should not be using taxpayer dollars to fund the creation and operation of school-based health centers which could provide children with abortion services or medication, puberty blockers, etc, without parental consent. Additionally, they contend that this legislation would lead to a decrease in parental control over their children’s healthcare decisions and promote controversial topics such as contraception and abortion in schools. SB-13 is also opposed by many due to the potential infringement on religious freedom and pro-life beliefs.

Opponents of HB-4 and SB-180 argue that these bills could lead to potential fraud in our election process. They believe that bills like these would dilute our sacred individual vote and further prevent us from having a voice in Santa Fe and D.C.. The automatic voter registration provision in HB4 is particularly concerning for voters who believe in limiting government intervention and prefer the opt-in system as it currently exists. Additionally, the elimination of the requirement to cancel a voter’s registration upon felony conviction disregards the seriousness of certain crimes and is a potential threat to election integrity. Many Taoseños oppose the 172-page SB-180 due to the immense size of this bill and the bill’s various provisions that they believe could lead to voter fraud, including electronic signature gathering for nominating petitions and voter convenience centers. 

It is vital for our lawmakers to understand that our community holds values that are not reflected in these bills and that as the representatives of average New Mexicans, they are obligated to vote in accordance with our values. The only way to ensure that we are truly a representative government with legislators voting on our behalf is to tell them no when they vote against us. Please plan to show up to the Republican Party Headquarters to sign petitions for a referendum against these bills

The Headquarters will be open Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays beginning May 15th and ending Friday, June 2nd, from 12-6 pm. Exceptions: Closed Memorial Day and May 19th. 

Sarah Hawkes Valente is the chairwoman for the Republican Party of Taos County. She is the mother of seven and the author of several children’s books and Bible study materials. She lives in Questa with her husband and children and a few well-loved dogs and cats.