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One step forward, two steps back

Gallup Independent Editorial Board

During their regular meeting last week, the McKinley County Board of Commissioners expressed their approval of a resolution that shows they support the creation of a blue ribbon task force on uranium mining. Despite speaking words of encouragement, no action was taken. Sound familiar?

That’s because the board did the same thing during their meeting March 14, 2017, then a couple of weeks later, they backpedaled and said they supported the formation of the task force and that their involvement ended there. It’s like déjá vu all over again.

Commissioner Genevieve Jackson told local activist Janene Yazzie, who presented a petition signed by more than 200 community residents, “We need people like you (to Yazzie) in the community to speak up on these kinds of issues otherwise, we tend to ignore them.”

What more do the commissioners want people to do? They have been speaking out for more than a year and all they do is turn a deaf ear.

It is our hope that the recently elected commissioners Billy Moore and Tommy Nelson will not allow for these kinds of important issues to be ignored. A year and four months has passed since commissioners Carol Bowman- Muskett, Genevieve Jackson and Bill Lee first expressed their full support in the blue ribbon task force, so much time has been wasted backpedaling.

It is only a matter of time before they send out a letter claiming their words of support were misunderstood, and then more backpedaling will ensue.

Commissioners, we are not interested in a re-run. Ask yourselves: What can we do to move forward?

We hope that Billy Moore and Tommy Nelson will take their seats on the McKinley County Board of Commissioners with fresh perspectives as true champions of the people who will honor their commitments. The generations of people who have been devastated by the mining legacy need not only words of encouragement but swift action.

When the board falls short of serving their constituents, we call them out. When the board

listens and does what they can to support to their constituents, we commend them.

So when the board unanimously passed a resolution to support New Mexico’s development of a public option buyin for health care coverage to better ensure affordability and choice, we rejoiced. This resolution shows the commission’s support to open up Medicaid for any state resident to buy in, even if they are not eligible for it now.

As commissioner Lee said, this is a step in the right direction because more than 16,000 McKinley residents are still uninsured and the commission must support innovative ideas that will help locals access the health care they need.

We hope this Medicaid buy-in program will serve as a great option to make quality care affordable and accessible for those who desperately need it.

This is a step in the right direction, so let’s keep moving forward.

In this space only does the opinion of the Gallup Independent Editorial Board appear