David Bacon has two words to describe his campaign for the District 4 seat on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission: up and down.
“I’m going to work to keep your rates down and your service up,” said the 57-year-old Green Party candidate and one-time gubernatorial candidate. “Everyone gets that.”
In a race that could raise the prominence of the Green Party in New Mexico, Bacon faces Democrat Carol Sloan for a job that affects everything from New Mexicans’ utility bills to the state’s new area code.
Bacon is ready to pit his policy ideas against those of his opponent, but he’s still waiting for the chance.
“I think, at this late date, I don’t talk to anybody, literally, who knows anything about her positions,” Bacon said. “She doesn’t have a Web site. I don’t think she’s given newspaper interviews. I don’t know where she stands on issues.”
Sloan failed to respond to multiple calls and e-mails seeking an interview.
In a Tribune questionnaire, she listed her priorities as renewable energy, better telecommunication access for New Mexicans and improving the commission’s insurance division.
“I don’t even know what she looks like,” Bacon said. “I Google her name every now and then to see if she’s come out of the phone booth as Super Regulator.”
Bacon, who has founded several nonprofits focused on alternative energy, wants to tackle a number of projects if elected, including:
Lowering rates charged by big businesses such as Public Service Company of New Mexico and Qwest.
Increasing Web access to PRC meetings to boost public participation.
Hiring an attorney and more experts to represent the public.
He also wants to be tougher on companies that fail to meet regulatory orders, and points to Qwest as an example of a big business evading its duties to the state.
Qwest fought the PRC over hundreds of millions of dollars the company had agreed to invest in telecommunications infrastructure. Bacon said the PRC went too easy on the telecom giant.
“We’re there to regulate Qwest and should not be directed by Qwest,” he said.
Bacon, an energy consultant who moved to New Mexico in 1972, also wants to see more renewable power sources in the state, such as solar and wind.
He said that can be accomplished at the PRC by crafting special rates for renewable-energy projects to make them more affordable.
Bacon sees many similarities between this race and the time he ran for governor in 2002. There’s one big difference that he likes.
“It’s much more about issues,” he said. “There’s nothing virtual, like what is your stand on abortion, education. It’s about rates and regulation.”
He said his political party affiliation works to his advantage in that people know Green Party members are critical of corporations, a stance often adopted by the PRC in its role as regulator.
If Bacon wins, he has the chance to bring Green values to the commission and win more support for the party, said Clifton Bain, co-chairman of the New Mexico Green Party.
“Not only is he very well-qualified, but it gives us an opportunity to demonstrate our platform and our principles, and when he’s elected, he’ll be able to translate those into guiding policy,” Bain said. “This race is certainly going to be a good boost for the party.”