As the 2021 legislative session begins, so does the divide; Republicans vs. Democrats, rural New Mexico vs. urban New Mexico.

    Legislators seem to have lost touch with our rural communities. Recent voting maps indicate New Mexico rural communities are out of favor with the state capitol and lawmakers. In the 2018 election between Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham received 202,172 of her 398,368 votes winning only 13 counties in New Mexico. This comes as no surprise to the rural residents of New Mexico. Our needs rarely match those of our urban neighbors.

    Rural New Mexicans are taking a back seat to urban politics and ideals. This added strain and hardship to rural communities still holds a firm grasp on our way of life as the COVID-19 pandemic rages. The need for transparency and listening has never been more critical in the capitol.

    Many bills being introduced this legislative session will face a limited amount of harsh public criticism due to technical difficulties, time constraints, short-term notice, short sessions, COVID-19 cases and numerous unseen obstacles shielded from the public.

    Does rural New Mexico carry the same issues and standings that our urban neighbors do, or are our populations so low that our voices are not heard, or count, in the capitol? Do the committees who first hear these bills listen to the voices of the citizens these bills affect?

    It is quite troubling to witness so many businesses shutting their doors and local families forced to move away.

    Chance Thedford

    Las Cruces

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