PRC candidate’s ‘bigoted Anglos’ claim is false, and sad
Earlier today Andrew Leo Lopez, a candidate for the District 4 seat on the N.M. Public Regulation Commission, sent out an e-mail calling residents of the community in which I grew up “bigoted Anglos.”
The community is Eldorado, an unincorporated area south of Santa Fe that, as of the 2000 Census, was home to about 5,800 people. Lopez, a Democrat, spoke at a forum there on Tuesday evening. The e-mail he sent out stated this:
“Forum was at a very affluent community called El Dorado in Santa Fe County. Bluntly, told the bigoted Anglos that I wanted them to now change their disinclination to vote for Hispanic candidates beginning today.”
Lopez’s harsh words went out in an e-mail replying to an invitation to a campaign event for appellate judge candidate Dennis W. Montoya. Lopez sent his reply to everyone who received Montoya’s invite.
I e-mailed Lopez to ask for clarification. Does he really believe that people living in Eldorado are all “bigoted Anglos?”
He does believe that, he wrote to me in an e-mail.
“The public record shows that residents of the El Dorado community in Santa Fe county, who are mostly affluent Anglos mostly from out of state, have an unbroken history of declining to vote for Hispanic candidates,” he wrote. “… I told the Anglo bigots that it was time to change their ways. The voting history of the residents of El Dorado has no place in New Mexico.”
Such sad words. Mr. Lopez must live in a very small world. But before I expand on that, let’s look at some numbers.
Facts prove Lopez wrong
Eldorado is a predominantly Anglo community, but as of 2000 some 13.5 percent of its residents were Hispanic. It is among the wealthier communities in the state. The median household income there in 2008 was $92,049, compared to the statewide median income of $43,508. The average home value there was $420,847 in 2008, compared with a statewide average of $165,000.
Eldorado has certainly changed since I grew up there. In fact, we used to joke that we owned the last middle-class home built in Eldorado (and that was in the 1980s). While that might be a slight exaggeration, it wasn’t off by much.
So Eldorado has a larger percentage of non-Hispanics than the state average and is home to more wealthy people. Does that mean people there won’t vote for Hispanics? I asked Lopez in a follow-up message how he backed up his claim that Eldorado residents have a history of not voting for Hispanic candidates.
He didn’t respond, so I looked up some voting numbers myself. Not surprisingly, I found that Lopez’s claim is 100 percent wrong.
In the 2008 Democratic U.S. House primary, there were four candidates: Ben Ray Luján, Don Wiviott, Benny Shendo and Harry Montoya. There are three precincts in Eldorado, and here’s how the combined vote totals from those precincts broke down in that race:
• Wiviott: 502 votes, 41 percent
• Luján: 455 votes, 37 percent
• Shendo: 193 votes, 16 percent
• Montoya: 79 votes, 6 percent
Even if you don’t take into consideration Shendo, an American Indian, the combined vote totals of Luján and Montoya top the votes won by Wiviott.
Then look at how voters in Eldorado voted in the 2008 general election U.S. House race between Luján, Republican Dan East and Independent Carol Miller:
• Luján: 2,785 votes, 60 percent
• Miller: 1,008 votes, 22 percent
• East: 825 votes, 18 percent
The elected members of the Eldorado Water and Sanitation District’s board of directors all have last names that aren’t Hispanic in origin. But two of seven members of the homeowner’s association board have Hispanic surnames. Those people are elected by homeowners in Eldorado.
Lopez’s words are very sad
I don’t know what’s happened in Lopez’s life to lead him to assume the worst about people without considering the facts, or to lie, or to do whatever it is that he’s doing right now. But I find what he’s doing very sad.
Though I’ve seen the effects of racism diminish in the Santa Fe area and New Mexico over time, true bigotry remains a real threat in our state, nation and world. We need elected leaders who understand that, leaders who choose their words intentionally – as Lopez as has done – but also carefully, making sure their claims are based in reality.
We need honest assessments of where racism permeates our society and intentional efforts to effectively combat it, not delusional claims of bigotry based on falsities.
We need leaders who push us as a society to see each other as what we all are – communal beings who share this state, nation and planet – not leaders who seek to divide us with name-calling and generalizations that aren’t true.
With his words, Lopez was attempting to drive a wedge between people. I hope I’ve helped combat his damaging words by pointing out the facts.
6 comments so far. Scroll down to submit your own comment.
Leave a response
You must be logged in to post a comment.