Residents gather to speak to Lujan

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson U.S. Rep Ben Ray Lujan-D NM (left) and a staff member meet with Clovis resident Jimmy Love Monday afternoon during open office hours at the Clovis-Carver Library.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

About half a dozen people gathered at the Clovis-Carver Library Monday, waiting for a turn to speak with U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Lujan-D NM.

Lujan, a member of the congressional dairy caucus, was in Clovis for a tour of Southwest Cheese and to hold afternoon office hours to meet with constituents.

The job opportunities and training programs Southwest Cheese has brought to the community and having a chance to meet with local producers and farmers about the direction they are heading was a positive thing to see, Lujan said.

He also lauded work done by local leaders to secure construction of the Hull Street overpass and to help the community grow with Cannon Air Force Base.

“It’s great to see how the community’s continuing to come together,” he said.

Healthcare reform was an issue Lujan said he heard from constituents — both for and against — and it’s an issue he said is close to his heart.

Rising healthcare costs and the practice of insurance companies denying coverage or not meeting peoples needs are matters that need to be addressed, he said.

“We can’t be treating people that way that are ill,” he said. “ “These are costs that are already hitting people that we need to do something about.”

Jimmy Love, a retired electronic technician, spoke with Lujan about several issues.

Love said his primary concern was the potential a food shortage may result from the cut-off of water to farmers in the San Joaquin Valley in California.

The water was shut off to save a minnow-like fish, he said, placing farmers in dire straits without water.

But Love said he also spoke to Lujan about the health care ill in Congress, the environmental policy tool known as Cap and Trade and water restoration, all of which he disagrees with because he believes they give the government too much power.

“I had a nice visit (with Lujan),” he said.

“We agreed to disagree, but you have to start somewhere. I believe if you do not voice your opinion, you have no right to complain.”

New Clovis resident Carole Green said she wanted to talk to Lujan because she was concerned about healthcare and wanted to show support for the public health option.

“It makes me sad to see people standing in long lines just to see the doctor for the first time in 10 years,” the retired school teacher said.

“There’s no reason for it in a country as rich as ours.”

Green, who just moved to Clovis from Portland, said she tries to communicate with her representatives via e-mail. But when she heard Lujan would be holding office hours at the library, she wanted to meet him in person.

“I’m new to this area and I want to know who it is that’s representing me,” she said, adding that she was, “very impressed.”

Lujan said he will be meeting with constituents in Tucumcari today and is traveling through the 16 counties in his district.

He said that one-on-one time is vital.

“We always have to make sure that we’re listening to everybody,” he said.

“It’s critically important that we take the chance to talk to everybody.”