Neomi Martinez-Parra, running for state Senate District 35, doesn’t respond to questions

by Kathleen Sloan | July 17, 2020
4 min read
It’s been more than two weeks since the Sierra County Sun sent questions to Neomi Martinez-Parra with no response.

Martinez-Parra’s Republican opponent, Crystal Diamond from Sierra County, also did not answer questions from the Sun.

Martinez-Parra successfully beat 34-year Democratic incumbent John Arthur Smith in the June primary. He is said by many to be second in power, just beneath the Governor, since he heads up the powerful finance committee that can make or break legislation and also keep it off the senate floor, killing it before it passes out of that committee.

She lives in Lordsburg and recently revealed to the Albuquerque Journal in an interview that she has retired as a special-education teacher.

Her platform, as seen on her website,, is vague.

Healthcare access in rural areas is a problem, the website states, giving the example of her mother and having to drive her great distances for medical appointments. Rural hospitals are “understaffed and underfunded,” she states, without giving a solution to either problem. “Healthcare is a right,” she says, which is a liberal-Democrat phrase used to call for nationalized, one-payer healthcare run by the government, but Martinez-Parra doesn’t specifically state she supports it.

Housing and infrastructure and small businesses are spoken of together, as if they are interlocking problems, without being specific in this platform plank. Public housing has long wait lists, she says. Infrastructure is lacking. Local businesses have had to close “because of difficult conditions.”

Education, similar to healthcare, also seems to be a rural problem, with students not given “equal access to quality education.” As an special-education teacher she says she provided “safe haven” for students in her classroom. Poverty and homelessness are also rural-student problems. She supports teachers and teachers’ unions, she says.

Environment is limited to “preserving public lands” in this plank, while also ensuring public access to those lands.

Immigration is a federal issue, she states, “but I support fixing immigration laws.”

The following questions were asked, but remain unanswered.

1. Please explain why you are limiting constituent and press contact to a campaign website that forces one to write emails in a prescribed box on your website that makes records retention and tracking, especially for a reporter, difficult? It also is a small box that doesn’t allow for much scope. I did get an email address from a supporter of yours, but that was just lucky.​

2. Your website platform issues are vague. Crystal Diamond, your Republican opponent, has been accused of running a “culture war campaign,” partly because of her extremely vague platform that seeks to retain “traditional values.” Your campaign doesn’t allude to a traditional culture, whatever that is, but your planks lack similar definition. Do you think voters don’t want to know particulars? Is this vagueness based on some advice not to go into detail?

3. As an educator, did you see the rise and fall of Common Core? It is gone and New Mexico is going to state testing. Common Core was a national test that made it possible to compare states’ performance, with New Mexico ranking near the bottom. Will the National Assessment of Educational Performance tests for rising 4th and 8th graders be used so the public can know how New Mexico is performing? The state chose Istation for K-3rd grade testing. Istation has horrible reviews from teachers, parents and students and no formal analysis and it requires small children to sit at computers with no teacher interference to safeguard test results. Do you agree with this testing choice? PSAT/SAT was chosen for upper classes and Cognia for middle grades. What do you think about these testing choices?

4. I have received three Republican mailings that state you were “sanctioned by the state of New Mexico and the IRS for refusing to pay over $100,000 in taxes. I emailed the public action committee that authored the mailings, The Council For a Competitive New Mexico, and asked for their sources, to which they did not respond. I checked court records and the IRS website. In court records I found a Barclays Bank complaint for debt. I found nothing on the IRS website. Without a fulsome explanation, the public would probably doubt your ability to limit spending or to stay within a budget. Please give a fulsome explanation of the New Mexico state taxes that may not have been paid, the federal taxes that may not have been paid and the money owed to Barclays Bank.

5. The Council for a Competitive New Mexico also claims “Outside groups are spending a fortune to get [you] elected. These funds have been traced back to special interest groups in Washington, D.C. [that are] trying to buy influence in our state.” Do you have national support? How much money have national public action committees given to you? The implication is you are a “puppet” for these outside groups. Please respond.

6. What, specifically, would you do to improve healthcare for New Mexicans?

7. You claim, on your website, that current policies are hurting local economies. Please explain.

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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