During their first televised debate hosted by KRQE on Wednesday, Michelle Lujan Grisham and Steve Pearce both were prepared to tackle questions and explain why they should be the next governor.
Early in the debate, the two candidates were asked about their stance on raising the minimum wage.
Congresswoman Lujan Grisham says she is absolutely on board and says not increasing the minimum wage is keeping families in poverty.
Her plan is to steadily raise the minimum wage over several years.
“If you’re not between $10 and $15 at a minimum wage, you cannot secure housing, which is unequivocally adding to the growing homeless epidemic not only in our state but all across the country,” said Lujan Grisham.
Pearce, on the other hand, is against raising the minimum wage. He believes this would hurt small businesses. He also added that if we are trying to help those at the bottom of the economic ladder, that raising the minimum wage would do the opposite of that.
“People at the bottom of the economic ladder are now making less money and working less hours and so if you want to help people, we need to grow the economy where there are more jobs out there to attract people, getting the raise bid up and that’s economically sustainable,” said Pearce.
Education also took center stage during Wednesday’s debate.
Both Lujan Grisham and Pearce agree that New Mexico isn’t spending enough money on the education system.
However, they both have different ideas when it comes to how they want to fix it.
Lujan Grisham says the funds will likely come from the state’s rainy day fund.
“Diversify the economy and you make sure you’re using the resources readily available to you, so you can fund a robust public school education system,” said Lujan Grisham.
Pearce was concerned with where the money would come from
He pointed out that using money from the rainy day fun is dangerous and could deplete the cash in a matter of years.
Instead, his focus was on money from the oil and gas industry as a way to bring more money into the state.
Right now, Pearce says that business is being pushed across state lines, taking money away from New Mexico.
“The estimate is, that each rig not running here is costing us one-million dollars a year and so by you saying you want to regulate fracking you’re going to push the development across the state line and we are going to decrease,” said Pearce.
Another major concern on how to fix New Mexico’s education system comes as the state recently lost a lawsuit that ruled their $2.4 billion budget for public education was Inadequate.
Currently, the state of New Mexico ranks near the bottom in the nation when it comes to education.
The other big topic addressed in Wednesday’s debate was what would be the singles most important action you would take to make New Mexicans safer.
Lujan Grisham says the answer is more law enforcement officers and better collaboration between jurisdictions.
“The folks that engage in nefarious activity, human trafficking, drugs, auto theft and property crimes, if we don’t share that information and go after those bad actors and hold them accountable we just keep repeating the same problems,” said Lujan Grisham.
Meanwhile, Pearce says he would improve public safety by holding convicted criminals behind bars who recommit crimes once they’re released.
“I would stop recycling, I would stop sending people back, if we get them a job, get them a place to live, statistics show not as many will go back,” said Pearce.
According to a poll, viewers said that Pearce won the debate. Election day is Tuesday, Nov. 6.