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Rep. Debbie Sarinana is pictured in the middle

Be inclusive and take your allies wherever you find them

Oped by Sen. Mimi Stewart, and Rep. Debbie Sarinana

July 17, 2020 – Published in the ALBUQUERQUE DEMOCRAT

We were saddened to read “Progressive group wants City Councilor Davis to resign” about ProgressNow New Mexico’s unfortunate demand that Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis resign. Our legislative districts overlap with City Council District 6, where Councilor Davis has been a key leader and ally to us for years on progressive policies related to gun control, criminal justice and police reform, immigration, cannabis legalization, LGBTQ protections and many other important issues.

Like candidates and officeholders across the state, we are gearing up for one of the most important and consequential elections of our lifetimes. As Democrats, we stand united as the party of inclusion, equity and opportunity for every New Mexico child and family. We have a vision and agenda worth fighting for, and we have real opponents standing in our way from the top of the ballot all the way down to county commissions and local elected offices.

Our country is engaged in a reckoning about race and responsibility on a social and individual scale. As Democrats, and particularly as progressives, we owe it to the movement to rise above the next Twitter war and get down to work on the change we truly need.

Throughout our legislative careers, we have striven to develop a shared understanding of the deep-rooted structures we all inherited. It is disappointing the new leaders of groups like ProgressNow did not stop to study the source of attacks on an ally, which was discredited by the Albuquerque Journal and Associated Press, or to understand the story of reform from former Republicans like Davis who now proudly carry the progressive flag. Ironically, those groups know of Davis’ story because he has so courageously recounted his experiences himself in countless policy fights for criminal justice reform and social equity.

On police reform in particular, shouldn’t we support the voices of those most impacted with that of former officers trained in those tactics, like Pat, who cross the thin blue line and organize with those fighting for change? If we do not encourage growth and evolution within our community, then we will never reach the broader base of support we all desire.

This is a real low point for the progressive movement, but let’s hope it’s just a speed bump and not the start of a long decline. We have so many more important objectives that deserve our time, money and energy. If we let ourselves get caught up in senseless attacks — personal or otherwise — against one another, we will not deliver on the promise we’ve all made to our constituents, members and colleagues: to build and strengthen this movement and pass policies that increase justice and equity in our society.

We encourage all those who want meaningful reform to keep our eyes on the prize so we can win in November and then in January, when the 2021 session begins and we’ll face a real reckoning on our budget, the economy, clean energy, criminal justice reform and a host of other critical issues.