NM Senate candidate stresses health care, education
By MIKE COOK
Las Cruces Bulletin
Tracy L. Perry is passionate health care, education, the rights of people with disabilities, and about her campaign for New Mexico Senate District 38.
Perry announced in April that she would challenge incumbent Mary Kay Papen, DDoña Ana, in the District 38 Democratic primary in June 2020.
Green Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carrie Hamblen is also a candidate in that primary.
Perry, 38, is CEO of Direct Therapy Services, which is based in Las Cruces and serves the needs of individuals on two Medicaid waiver programs administered by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).
A native of Freeport, Texas, she grew up in Alamogordo. After commuting for a couple of years, Perry moved to Las Cruces in 2013, she said.
This is Perry’s first bid for public office.
Perry said her work with state legislators during the past two years and more recently with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Lt.
Gov. Howie Morales brought $10 million in new funding for vital services to children and adults with developmental disabilities (DD), moving 340 off the state’s DD waiver waiting list. She hopes for an additional $12 million during the 2020 session, as part of a five-year plan to fix “a broken system,” Perry said.
With a new administration in Santa Fe, she said, “This is the time right now to improve our healthcare system, which is a mess. Let’s fix it now.”
Perry said the issue particularly impacts the state’s most vulnerable populations, including children, senior citizens and people with disabilities. “A good, proper, working system is vital,” she said.
Perry said she wants to protect women’s health care and reproductive rights. In fact, Perry said she made the decision to run for the state Senate after Papen voted against House Bill 51, Decriminalizing Abortion, during the 2019 legislative session.
Abortion, Perry said, is “a woman’s personal decision.” It should be made, she said, between a woman and her medical provider “without government interference.”
The legislature also needs to address behavioral health care in New Mexico, Perry said, because of cuts in services made by former Gov.
Perry also is focusing her campaign on education and infrastructure, including roads in the southern part of state Senate District 38, which contains part of Las Cruces and stretches to southern Doña Ana County.
In the door-to-door campaign she’s already begun, Perry said she has talked to district residents about road issues like potholes, which she has reported to Doña Ana County Commission Chair Lynn Ellins.
Some were fixed within a few days, Perry said.
“I’m already starting to help,” she said.
Perry said she also wants to see continued investment in infrastructure for colonias in the southern part of the county to boost economic development and quality of life in these border communities.
Early childhood education is another vital investment for the state, Perry said, and she would support it with about $1 billion from the state’s permanent fund.
“I don’t like band aids,” she said. “Let’s fix it so it will last.”
Perry also wants to focus on bullying in schools, which she said has sometimes been overlooked. Suicides of bullied students in New Mexico “got my attention,” Perry said.
“I think it’s important that our kids feel safe in school on so many levels. Teachers should feel safe as well,” she said.
Perry said she will also be an advocate for teacher pay raises.
Salaries for New Mexico teachers, she said, are “not close to what they deserve.” Perry said Las Cruces Public Schools community schools’ partnership with the City of Las Cruces is “a really great program.”
Perry is a single mother with three children. She is a certified nurse assistant, an eight-year cancer survivor and a member of NMDOH’s Advisory Council on Quality.
Visit perry4nm38.com and www.facebook.com/ perry4nm38.
Mike Cook may be contacted at mike@lascrucesbulletin. com.
Tracy L. Perry