Open Letter to Sen. Carlos Cisneros

Dear Senator Cisneros:

The 2019 Legislative Session is over. Less than 2 weeks ago at the Taos County Democratic Party Convention, the big topic among more than 100 Democratic Party activists was your vote at the end of the legislative session: You voted against HB 51.

On January 15th, you and Representative Bobby Gonzales attended a meeting of the Taos United Forum, a nonpartisan citizen organization. At that meeting I asked in front of the 60+ attendees if you would vote for this bill. You both said “Yes.”

The sense of betrayal held by women and men supporting women’s rights goes deep. Several people called you following your vote. To one person you said “your side did not work hard enough” as an excuse for your vote.

To be clear, proponents of this bill were at the Roundhouse every day of this session. More than 976 advocates attended the committee hearings; more than 164 powerful testimonies were offered in favor of HB 51. Nearly 200,000 miles were driven by people coming from every corner of our state to make certain this bill passed. More than 6,793 calls and emails were made to legislators during this session in support of this bill. Many of your Taos constituents called your office during the 60 day session, to make certain you understood how important this legislation is and we were assured you would vote for HB 51.

HB 51 was an effort to remove from state statutes a 50-year old ineffective, outdated law passed in 1969, prior to the 1973 SCOTUS Roe v. Wade decision, to make it a felony to provide legal medical care for women who terminate a pregnancy. We did not like it but we understood when former Republican Governor Susanna Martinez chose to pocket veto this same bill in 2017.

WE do not understand why you, a long-time Democratic Senator representing a political party with a strong pro-choice platform would refuse to vote Yes on this bill, to defend our right to choose safe, legal medical care.

When I spoke to you on the last full day of the session, you said, “Count the votes. You didn’t have the votes to pass this bill.” (You and seven other democratic senators failed to follow the state Democratic platform.) You offered political expediency as an excuse for breaking your word to your constituents. To another constituent who questioned your broken promise, you said “I only vote for bills that pass.” Really? So representing your constituents, members of your own party who advocated and testified for the bill you gave your word you would support, means nothing.

In the last days of a session, when a politician breaks his word, it’s because he is trading his vote to a colleague on another bill. Just what was more important than the 73% of New Mexicans who support safe medical care for female patients? Senator Cisneros, you are an astute politician, a good “numbers-guy” on revenue and tax issues, and you have years of seniority in the legislature which gives some clout to your district in Taos and beyond. We know this. But if we can’t trust you, nothing else matters. When you put your finger in the wind before a vote, you are not representing the voters – you are playing power politics. The time is ending for democrats who profess to represent Democratic Party values but vote contrary to the platform. The activists who work hard on issues and party organizing are tired of wasting our time, money and energy on untrustworthy politicians. If you run as an endorsed Democrat, if you represent this party, you need to be accountable for your promises and your votes. We want our officials to represent the diversity of their constituents, and not to horse-trade votes. We want our senator to take responsibility for your votes – and not try to blame constituents who question your veracity. Those who have not yet called and emailed, please let the Senator to let him know how you feel. Contact Senator Cisneros at 505-670-5610 or via email: carlos.cisneros@nmlegis.gov.

Cristy Holden
Taos Progressive

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