NAACP Vets Candidates For Governor Of New Mexico, Republican Candidate Will Release Tax Returns

Sep 15, 2018

NAACP Vets Candidates For Governor Of New Mexico At ForumAssociated Press

Candidates for governor of New Mexico are scheduled to talk about issues affecting the state's African-American community at a forum organized by the NAACP.

Republican Congressman Steve Pearce and Democratic Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham planned to attend Friday's forum as they compete to become the state's next governor in November elections.

Albuquerque NAACP Vice President Pamelya Herndon says the forum will delve into topics including civil rights, criminal justice, public education and job creation. 

She said the event is a unique opportunity for the African-American community to engage with the top candidates for statewide office.

About 2 percent of New Mexico residents identify themselves as black or African-American.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for a consecutive third term.

Republican Candidate Says He Will Release Tax Returns Associated Press

The Republican candidate for governor of New Mexico says he plans to make good on a promise to release his tax returns.

Congressman and gubernatorial candidate Steve Pearce told The Associated Press on Friday that he plans to make his 2017 tax returns available in mid-October. Absentee voting begins Oct. 9 in the general election.

Pearce says his tax returns are delayed because of incomplete information from independent businesses that sought extensions.

Democratic gubernatorial nominee and U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham has publicly posted five years of tax returns that date back to her first year in Congress. Those returns show past income from a business that runs the state's high-risk health insurance pool.

Pearce notes that he has provided details of his personal finances on congressional disclosure forms.

Judge Rejects Plea Deal For Woman Accused In Girl's Killing Associated Press

A judge has rejected a plea deal for a woman accused in the 2016 killing of a 10-year-old girl at her family's Albuquerque apartment.

Prosecutors had reached the agreement with Jessica Kelley in exchange for her testimony against others in the case, and as they seek to identify another suspect in Victoria Martens' death.

But the judge rejected the agreement after asking Kelley to provide her recollection of events the night Victoria was killed. 

Kelley said a man entered the apartment looking for her cousin Fabian Gonzales, who was dating the girl's mother. Authorities say Gonzales and the mother weren't home, but he still faces charges of tampering with evidence and child abuse resulting in death.

The mother pleaded guilty to child abuse resulting in death for leaving her daughter in a dangerous situation.

Man Returned From Mexico To Face Charges In 1994 Killing Associated Press

Federal authorities say a man wanted in connection with a cold case in Las Cruces has been returned to the United States from Mexico to face charges.

The FBI says the 43-year-old Gregorio Zavala was taken into custody by Mexican law enforcement in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, on Wednesday. It's anticipated he eventually will be turned over to local authorities in New Mexico.

The FBI had filed an arrest warrant for Zavala for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution in 1995 after authorities in Las Cruces had charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting death of 21-year-old Ricardo Soria.

Authorities had said the shooting happened during a house party as Soria was trying to break up a fight.

Libertarian Senate Candidate Discloses Cannabis Investments Associated Press

U.S. Senate candidate Gary Johnson of New Mexico is disclosing his personal financial interests in the cannabis sector.

Johnson said in Senate filings obtained by The Associated Press that he owns stock worth more than $250,000 in the Nevada cannabis company Kush and has a profit sharing agreement with a cannabis-focused investment management business.

A former governor and presidential candidate, Johnson also reported capital gains from the sale of stock in Cannabis Sativa, where he previously served as CEO.

A longtime marijuana user and advocate for legalization, Johnson announced in August his Libertarian run for Senate against incumbent Democrat Martin Heinrich, who has recently endorsed decriminalizing marijuana.

New Mexico regulates cultivation and access to medical marijuana for a long list of maladies. Recreational use has not been legalized.

Few Details Fuel Speculation About US Observatory's Closure Associated Press

An observatory in the mountains of southern New Mexico that is dedicated to unlocking the mysteries of the sun has found itself at the center of a mystery that is creating a buzz here on earth.

The Sunspot Solar Observatory has been closed for more than a week. Authorities remain tightlipped, saying only that a "security issue" was behind vacating and locking up the facility on Sept 6.

The FBI on Friday referred all questions to the group that runs the observatory, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. 

Officials there say only that they're working with authorities and the observatory will remain closed until further notice.

The vagueness has fueled speculation on social media.

The association manages the observatory atop Sacramento Peak with funding from the National Science Foundation.

Belgian Tourist Found Dead At White Sands National Monument Associated Press

New Mexico authorities are investigating the death of a Belgian tourist at White Sands National Monument.

Monument officials said in a statement Thursday the man was found Wednesday unresponsive about a half-mile (less than a kilometer) from the Alkali Flat trailhead.

His name was not made public. Authorities have not determined a cause of death.

The search was prompted by an unattended vehicle in the parking lot as rangers prepared to close the monument for the evening.

The high temperature at White Sands reached 97 degrees (36C) Fahrenheit on Wednesday.

There's no shade or water along any of the monument's trails.

Officials say visitors need to be prepared for the desert environment, especially during the summer.

They recommend hikers start early and take plenty of food and water.

Figures Show Improvement In New Mexico's Child Poverty Rate Associated Press

Federal figures show the poverty rate among children 5 years old and younger improved in New Mexico last year, but the state still has one of the highest child poverty rates in the nation.

U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey results were released Thursday. They indicated 28.9 percent of the state's young children — or 123,000 total — were living at or below the federal poverty line in 2017. 

The percentage represented a more than 7-point decline from the year before.

An analysis from New Mexico Voices for Children found that the state tied with Louisiana in ranking second-to-last in child poverty, after ranking dead last in 2016.

Mississippi was that state with the nation's highest poverty rate in 2017.