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Leger Fernandez highlights her record in Congressional re-election bid

Teresa Leger Fernandez
New Mexico PBS
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New Mexico PBS
U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernandez on New Mexico in Focus

Election Day is on November 8 and early voting is underway. In Congressional District 3 Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson is looking to unseat incumbent Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez.

New Mexico in Focus Correspondent Gwyneth Doland with our media partner New Mexico PBS sat down with Leger Fernandez to discuss how she helped secure funding for Hermit’s Peak fire, her thoughts on reproductive rights and how she’s campaigning in her newly redrawn district.

GWYNETH DOLAND: What are you most proud of accomplishing since you’ve been Congress?

TERESA LEGER FERNANDEZ: What I’m most proud of is, of course, the Hermit’s Peak fire assistance bill, because that was such a long shot. People didn’t think we’d be able to get it done. But I knew that I was not going to stop until I could get compensation for all those families and businesses who had lost so much. I knew I had to make it happen, and we did — $2.5 billion as just the first installment on what we need to recover, to rise from the ashes. And you know what, this is what justice looks like. When the government messes up, when they destroy so many homes and livelihoods, they should say, yes, it’s our responsibility to take responsibility and then to pay the damages. We actually are delivering justice at the same time that we’re delivering hope. I want to make sure that these communities know that hope is on the way, resources are on the way.

DOLAND: Why do you think we should not get in the way of access to abortions after 15 weeks?

LEGER FERNANDEZ: I believe, as most New Mexicans do, that we need to trust women to make decisions about their health care, including their reproductive health care, and whether to secure an abortion or not. We need to trust women to make that decision with their family, with their faith, with their doctors. Without governmental interference, because it’s a very complex decision that involves multiple things including, you know, health issues that we cannot make from afar. And as I said, I trust women to make that decision. It’s a health decision.

DOLAND: You live in Santa Fe, which has more artists and people with PhDs than any other city of its size. Nearly half the city’s economy is tied back to arts and culture. But after redistricting, the Third Congressional District now goes all the way down to the southeastern corner of the state, which makes its money in oil and gas and ranching, totally different industries, different culture. How would you persuade a Roswell Republican to vote for you?

LEGER FERNANDEZ:  I’m a daughter of rural New Mexico. I understand rural issues very well. My district right now is a rural district. I am a champion of rural issues in Congress, and that’s why I actually have a whole pamphlet of all the money and all the resources we are bringing to ranchers, to farmers, to acequias. You know, there are some really good programs that I have championed that we are bringing to rural New Mexico, and as a daughter of rural New Mexico I understand those issues, I was flipping burgers at my uncle’s rodeo you know, and riding the mule, which is a very old timey farm equipment, like, I get these issues, and I’ve been working on these issues not just for the last two years, but my entire career has been dedicated to building rural health clinics, to addressing issues in rural New Mexico.

Find the full interview online. KUNM’s Jeanette DeDios contributed to this report.

Gwyneth Doland has been a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines, online news, radio and television. She's reported for our media partner New Mexico PBS since 2008.
Jeanette DeDios is from the Jicarilla Apache and Diné Nations and grew up in Albuquerque, NM. She recently graduated from the University of New Mexico in 2022 where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism, English and Film. She’s currently a part of the Local News Fund Fellowship where she will be working with KUNM-FM and NMPBS during her 9-month fellowship where she will gain hands-on newsroom experience. Jeanette can be contacted at jeanettededios@kunm.org or via Twitter @JeanetteDeDios.
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