A Win for New Mexico Thanks to Citizen Leadership

American Promise Associations across the nation have been achieving success with legislation at the local and state level. Inspired by the work of their fellow citizen leaders in Minnesota, Santa Fe, New Mexico, American Promise Association leaders drove approval of a resolution in support of the 28th Amendment by the Santa Fe County Commission.

Ishwari Sollohub of the Santa Fe APA recently shared more about the process behind the success, what advice she would offer to other APAs working with local policymakers, and how work for the 28th Amendment continues with members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation.

Several of these commissioners signed the American Promise Candidate Pledge. How did those efforts play into/lead up to this resolution’s success?

Ishwari: One of our pledge signers, Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen, indicated that she would be happy to bring a resolution before the county commission. Another county commissioner had also signed the pledge, so we knew the support was good. This was around the time that an American Promise communication highlighted someone in the APA from Minnesota that successfully worked to get a county resolution approved. We thought that might be a good thing to do here.

It took us a few months, but we did write up a resolution. Just a few weeks ago we were able to meet with Anna Hansen and county staff member Sarah Smith to present our version of a resolution. The reception was fabulous, and they scheduled it for the very next county commission meeting, which was January 29.

About 10 of us showed up at the commission meeting on January 29, not sure what to expect. Our agenda item was moved up when our commissioner Anna Hansen saw how many people we had. She introduced the resolution, and then several of us spoke briefly at the podium. One commissioner asked whether this would ever have to be voted on by local voters. We informed him that no, local voters would not vote, but we explained the ratification process, and that the state legislature would basically have to vote by ratifying.

I talked a little bit about how these local resolutions are really pre-ratification efforts, to keep the issue alive and active, so that when an amendment is passed and it is time for ratification, we have boots on the ground and can get ratification accomplished quickly. At any rate, the resolution passed within less than 10 minutes. It was fabulous, and super easy.

How did the national American Promise organization support your local efforts on this resolution?

The whole idea of a resolution came from American Promise’s success story about the resolution in Minnesota. We requested a copy of that, which we used to get an idea of what a resolution would look like. We ended up writing our own, but it was good to see what someone else had used. We also looked at a model resolution that was online.

What does passage of this resolution mean for New Mexico, Santa Fe and/or your APA?

The success of this resolution has us pretty fired up, in terms of approaching other county commissions and city councils. We have a fresh success to approach others with and are excitedly working toward that right now. The more resolutions we can get throughout the state, the more prepared we will be for ratification.

What was the best part of this accomplishment?

One of the best parts of this process was the amazingly positive reception we had. It seems so often we are fighting to get people on board, but this was just so easy. I personally don’t see that there was or is any ulterior motive for any of the counselors or commissioners to move with this item. They really believe in it, which is heartwarming and encouraging.

What challenges did you face?

The only challenge we had was that it took us awhile to actually get our own resolution written. We wanted to get it right, and there were a few perspectives on exactly what it should say. There really was no pressure in terms of time, so we didn’t make ourselves crazy, and eventually, the resolution that we used in the end materialized.

Do you have any advice for other APAs looking to follow your lead?

Approach either Pledge Signers or people who declined to sign the American Promise Pledge but were still supportive. Talk with them about a possible resolution and have a model or two you can show them. Talk with them about pre-ratification and see if they would like to get on board.

Ishwari and Deb Haaland, New Mexico District 1 House Representative
Ishwari and Deb Haaland, New Mexico District 1 House Representative

What’s next for your APA?

We have a great slate from New Mexico in Congress right now, including two who are new this year. We are working with all of them and their staff members on 28th Amendment issues. Two of our three U.S. representatives have already cosponsored the Democracy for All Amendment, which was proposed in Congress at the start of 2019. We are working on the third person.

Our two senators are very supportive of 28th Amendment work. We are in the process of meeting with staffers from Sen. Tom Udall’s local office to reinvigorate our efforts to communicate and work together with him. And last, a couple of us are planning to go to the Unrig Summit in Nashville in March and looking forward to that.

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