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Voices Behind The Vote: 18-Year-Old Puts Economy First

Sarah Trujillo / KUNM
Quinton Valencia of Rio Rancho applies for a job at Target

New Mexico’s struggled to recover fully from the recession, and it can still be a real challenge to find steady work in the state. That’s central to how 18-year-old Quinton Valencia is casting his vote this year. KUNM tagged along with Valencia as he applied for a job at Target in Rio Rancho.

“Around 2009 we had that big crash in our economy, and that had a sizeable impact personally in my life,” he said. “And I would like to see that never happen again.” His mom lost her job, and he remembered a feeling of uncertainty as she looked for another for months, but businesses just weren’t hiring.

Valencia’s started his first semester at the University of New Mexico, and he’s studying biology. He’s got his eye on medical school. He’s torn between Green Party candidate Jill Stein and Democrat Hillary Clinton. Valencia said he likes what Clinton’s been saying about the economy, about having the wealthy pay their fair share and raising the minimum wage. He said it seems to come straight out of Democratic primary contender Bernie Sanders’ playbook

He said he hopes the economy’s been bolstered in the last few years. “We need to continue on this path of creating new jobs,” Valencia said.

Marisa Demarco began a career in radio at KUNM News in late 2013 and covered public health for much of her time at the station. During the pandemic, she is also the executive producer for Your NM Government and No More Normal, shows focused on the varied impacts of COVID-19 and community response, as well as racial and social justice. She joined Source New Mexico as editor-in-chief in 2021.
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