Crystal Runyan Diamond, candidate for N.M. Senate seat District 35, wouldn’t answer questions

by Kathleen Sloan | July 1, 2020
6 min read
It’s been two weeks since the Sierra County Sun sent a series of questions to Crystal Runyan Diamond, with no response. 

She was the only Republican candidate in the primary for state senate seat District 35, winning the nomination automatically. The district includes Sierra, Luna and Hidalgo counties. 

Since she won’t answer questions, examining her campaign materials are the only option. 

She has allied herself with over 100 state senate and house candidates. They are using the umbrella campaign platform, The Respect New Mexico trademark is owned by the Republican Party of New Mexico, according to the website. 

Respect New Mexico is emphasizing bipartisanship. “We’re Republicans and former Democrats who believe partisan divides are old and unhelpful. We ask you to judge us not by party, but by our promise to respect New Mexico in everything we do.”

Respecting New Mexico means acknowledging that “the health and welfare of New Mexico lags far behind its neighbors. Generational poverty, record crime, a lack of opportunities for our young, and an education system that offers too little support to our teachers are a handful of the many issues our legislature has long been unable to solve.” 

“More than one hundred candidates for the House and Senate have pledged to take bold, commonsense action to help the people of our state finally and fully thrive—without compromising our values, traditions, and proud heritage,” the RespectNewMexico website states. 

The nearly four-minute video on the site is vague but foreboding. It claims “something is afoot of late, there is a change in the wind. People with power want more power. People with power want more of New Mexico.” 

The unspecified power mongers want more of its “natural resources,” the video showing oil wells. They want more of “our wages,” “control of our schools, control of our families, control of our ways of life. They want us to live and think like they do.”  

New Mexico, the video claims, is not California or New York. 

Diamond, on her website, is a little more specific about who the enemy is and what they are doing wrong.  

“I’m running to be your next State Senator from New Mexico District 35 because I have become increasingly concerned by the radical policies being pushed by progressive outsiders in our district. These radical policies will destroy working families, our community’s way of life, and are not in line with the values of District 35. This race isn’t about left vs right — it’s about right vs wrong. Sadly, the special interest groups who are backing my opponent have battled farmers and ranchers for years, want to tear up the 2nd Amendment, and care more about urban issues than they do the issues affecting our community.” 

The day after the June 2 Primary, in which Neomi Martinez-Parra won the Democrat-Party nomination over John Arthur Smith, Diamond told the Las Cruces Sun News: 

“We are seeing an unprecedented attempt by progressive interest groups to radically move the political landscape away from our traditional New Mexican values,” said Diamond. “I am running to protect our shared value of fiscal responsibility, for hard-working families and small businesses, and to safeguard the freedoms we all enjoy.”


The Sun analyzed Diamond’s website and Facebook page, basing questions on the information she provided. Although she didn’t answer the questions, the underlying analysis may be helpful to voters. 

1. Do you feel District 35 has had an influx of liberal-Democrat influences? Who are these influencers? And what policies or ideas are they promoting that you find wrongheaded? 

2. Would you be specific about the “traditional values” you are talking about as the basis of your campaign? 

3. Most of your constituents live in the cities within your district with a minority living in rural areas, yet you emphasize in your campaign materials that rural issues must be addressed. Why the rural emphasis and what rural issues are you talking about? 

4. You state on your Facebook page that legislators are passing laws to prevent removal of undergrowth in national forests, attaching House Memorial 59 to your posting.  

First, isn’t a memorial more like sending up a trial balloon than legislation? 

Second, the memorial requests support for finding an alternate means besides fire to remove undergrowth. 

Therefore the memorial is much more centrist than you have made out in your post. The proponents are not seeking to preserve undergrowth, but to find a happy medium of preserving wildlife habitat (New Mexican spotted owl) and preventing forest fires while still removing undergrowth.  

Your presentation of the memorial implies you feel the ranchers and loggers should not be inhibited in any way by the Endangered Species Act. 

What is your stance on public land use, especially in the Gila National Forest? 

5. Doesn’t your family own a ranch? Do you have grazing rights on public land? Have you been restricted from running cattle in certain areas because of habitat and conservancy issues? 

6. The Sierra County Commission has asked the federal government to loosen endangered-species- act laws. Do you agree they should be relaxed? Why or why not? 

7. You state you “fought for” better food and security measures for children as a school board member. Can you be more specific about what you did?  

8. Common Core is gone. New Mexico is 50th in the state–when its grades could be compared via national Common Core tests, that is. 

How would you improve New Mexico’s ranking and what do you think about the state going to state testing?  

Do you think public funding should go to religious and privately run charter schools? 

9. You said students in New Mexico are not getting their fair share of funding. Do you mean state or federal funding? Please explain, because New Mexico is among the top four states that receive the most federal funding. In state ranking, New Mexico is 17th, or above average in how much funding the state puts toward students. 

10. How will you handle two elected positions (Truth or Consequences school board member and state senator)? 

11. John Arthur Smith wanted to spend money made from gas and oil leases (which comprised 45 percent of the state’s budget last year) on building roads for gas and oil companies to increase oil and gas companies’ access to leased sites, reducing transportation/delivery time and cost instead of putting that money into social services and education funding. 

About 40 percent of the gas and oil businesses are shutting down in the state due to COVID-19. Fracking extraction costs make for a very slim profit margin and the subsequent drop in oil and gas prices put those companies under. 

Do you think the legislature should try to save these businesses? Would you choose oil and gas funding or social-services and educational funding? 

12. Locally there has been a split among the community concerning Sheriff Glenn Hamilton’s speaking against the Governor’s executive order closing the state. He said the Governor was targeting the area, particularly by keeping Elephant Butte Lake State Park closed, because he opposed the recently passed “red flag” gun law. He also mass-deputized a local church and those who attended the Cowboys for Trump rally on May 17. 

Do you think Hamilton favored Christians and Cowboys For Trump proponents over other constituents? Do you think he was defying the Governor’s order and encouraging others to defy the order? What do you think about Hamilton’s actions as an elected official?

Kathleen Sloan is the Sun’s founder and chief reporter. She can be reached at or 575-297-4146.
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Understanding New Mexico's proposed new social studies standards for K-12 students

“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
—National Council for the Social Studies 

Reader Michael L. Hayes of Las Cruces commented: What impresses me is that both the proposed standards and some of the criticisms of them are equally grotesque. I make this bold statement on the basis of my experience as a peripatetic high school and college English teacher for 45 years in many states with many students differing in race, religion, gender and socioeconomic background, and as a civic activist (PTA) in public education (My career, however, was as an independent consultant mainly in defense, energy and the environment.)

The proposed social studies standards are conceptually and instructionally flawed. For starters, a “performance standard” is not a standard at all; it is a task. Asking someone to explain something is not unlike asking someone to water the lawn. Nothing measures the performance, but without a measure, there is no standard. The teacher’s subjective judgment will be all that matters, and almost anything will count as satisfying a “performance standard,” even just trying. Students will be left to wonder “what is on the teacher’s mind?” or “have I sucked up enough.”

Four other quick criticisms of the performance standards. One, they are nearly unintelligible because they are written in jargon. PED’s use of jargon in a document intended for the public is worrisome. Bureaucrats often use jargon to confuse or conceal something uninformed, wrong or unworthy. As a result, most parents, some school board members and more than a few teachers do not understand them.

Two, the performance standards are so vague that they fail to define the education which teachers are supposed to teach, students are supposed to learn, and parents are supposed to understand. PED does not define words like “explain” or “describe” so that teachers can apply “standards” consistently and fairly. The standards do not indicate what teachers are supposed to know in order to teach or specify what students are supposed to learn. Supervisors cannot know whether teachers are teaching social studies well or poorly. The standards are so vague that the public, especially parents or guardians, cannot know the content of public education.

Three, many performance standards are simply unrealistic, especially at grade level. Under “Ethnic, Cultural and Identity Performance Standards”; then under “Diversity and Identity”; then under “Kindergarten,” one such standard is: “Identify how their family does things both the same as and different from how other people do things.” Do six-year-olds know how other people do things? Do they know whether these things are relevant to diversity and identity? Or another standard: “Describe their family history, culture, and past to current contributions of people in their main identity groups.” (A proficient writer would have hyphenated the compound adjective to avoid confusing the reader.) Do six-year-olds know so much about these things in relation to their “identity group”? Since teachers obviously do not teach them about these other people and have not taught them about these groups, why are these and similar items in the curriculum; or do teachers assign them to go home and collect this information?

Point four follows from “three”; some information relevant to some performance measures requires a disclosure of personal or family matters. The younger the students, the easier it is for teachers to invade their privacy and not only their privacy, but also the privacy of their parents or guardians, or neighbors, who may never be aware of these disclosures or not become aware of them until afterward. PED has no right to design a curriculum which requires teachers to ask students for information about themselves, parents or guardians, or neighbors, or puts teachers on the spot if the disclosures reveal criminal conduct. (Bill says Jeff’s father plays games in bed with his daughter. Lila says Angelo’s mother gives herself shots in the arm.) Since teacher-student communications have no legal protection to ensure privacy, those disclosures may become public accidentally or deliberately. The effect of these proposal standards is to turn New Mexico schools and teachers into investigative agents of the state and students into little informants or spies.

This PED proposal for social studies standards is a travesty of education despite its appeals to purportedly enlightened principles. It constitutes a clear and present danger to individual liberty and civil liberties. It should be repudiated; its development, investigated; its PED perpetrators, dismissed. No state curriculum should encourage or require the disclosure of private personal information.

I am equally outraged by the comments of some of T or C’s school board members: Christine LaFont and Julianne Stroup, two white Christian women, who belong to one of the larger minorities in America and assume white and Christian privileges. In different terms but for essentially the same reason, both oppose an education which includes lessons about historical events and trends, and social movements and developments, of other minorities. They object to the proposal for the new social studies standards because of its emphasis on individual and group identities not white or Christian. I am not going to reply with specific objections; they are too numerous and too pointed.

Ms. LaFont urges: “It’s better to address what’s similar with all Americans. It’s not good to differentiate.” Ms. Stroup adds: “Our country is not a racist country. We have to teach to respect each other. We have civil rights laws that protect everyone from discrimination. We need to teach civics, love and respect. We need to teach how to be color blind.”

Their desires for unity and homogeneity, and for mutual respect, are a contradiction and an impossibility. Aside from a shared citizenship, which implies acceptance of the Constitution, the rule of law and equality under the law, little else defines Americans. We are additionally defined by our race, religion, national origin, etc. So mutual respect requires individuals to respect others different from themselves. Disrespect desires blacks, Jews or Palestinians to assimilate or to suppress or conceal racial, religious or national origin aspects of their identity. The only people who want erasure of nonwhite, non-Christian, non-American origin aspects of identity are bigots. Ms. LaFont and Ms. Stroud want standards which, by stressing similarities and eliding differences, desire the erasure of such aspects. What they want will result in a social studies curriculum that enables white, Christian, native-born children to grow up to be bigots and all others to be their victims. This would be the academic equivalent of ethnic cleansing.


This postmortem of a case involving a 75-year-old women who went missing from her home in Hillsboro last September sheds light on the bounds of law enforcement’s capacity to respond, especially in large rural jurisdictions such as Sierra County, and underscores the critical role the public, as well as concerned family and friends, can play in assisting a missing person’s search.

Reader Jane Debrott of Hillsboro commented: Thank you for your article on the tragic loss of Betsey. I am a resident of Hillsboro, a friend of Rick and Betsey, and a member of H.E.L.P. The thing that most distresses me now, is the emphasis on Rick’s mis-naming of the color of their car. I fear that this fact will cause Rick to feel that if he had only gotten the facts right, Betsey may have been rescued before it was too late. The incident was a series of unavoidable events, out of everyone’s control, and we will never know what place the correct color of her car may have had in the outcome. It breaks my heart to think that Rick has had one more thing added to his “what ifs” concerning this incident.

Diana Tittle responded: Dear Jane, the Sun undertook this investigation at the request of a Hillsboro resident concerned about the town’s inability to mount a prompt, coordinated response to the disappearance of a neighbor. From the beginning, I shared your concern about how our findings might affect Betsy’s family and friends. After I completed my research and began writing, I weighed each detail I eventually chose to include against my desire to cause no pain and the public’s right to know about the strengths and limitations of law enforcement’s response and the public’s need to know about how to be of meaningful assistance.

There was information I withheld about the state police investigation and the recovery. But I decided to include the issue of the car’s color because the individuals who spotted Betsy’s car emphasized how its color had been key to their identification of it as the vehicle described in Betsy’s Silver Alert. Because the misinformation was corrected within a couple of hours, I also included in this story the following editorial comment meant to put the error in perspective: “The fact that law enforcement throughout the state was on the lookout in the crucial early hours after Betsy’s disappearance for an elderly woman driving a “light blue” instead of a “silver” Accord would, in retrospect, likely not have changed the outcome of the search” [emphasis added].

I would also point to the story’s overarching conclusion about the inadvisability of assigning blame for what happened: “In this case, a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances, many of them beyond human control, hindered the search that it would fall to Hamilton’s department to lead.”

It is my hope that any pain caused by my reporting will eventually be outweighed by its contribution to a better community understanding of what it will take in the future to mount a successful missing person’s search in rural Sierra County.

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