Liz Rodriguez-Johnson: Make the System Work

In a recent letter to the editor, it was suggested that the Democratic Party and, by association, all Democrats, are guilty of corruption, fraud, identity theft, and solicitation. This is absurd. There is no way that all people in a political party are guilty of the same crime.  In a world that is not black and white, it is important to revisit underlying principles.

One of the founding principles of our great country remains that everyone is innocent until found guilty in a court of law. There is no dispute that the activities of a few employees within the County Clerk’s office are of deep concern to all of us who rely on the integrity of the County Clerk to handle matters of high sensitivity. But at this point in time, these individuals have not been found guilty, they have only been charged.

Another basic principle is that of privacy, and that defamation, slander and libel are illegal. In this country, all people have a right to a basic level of privacy from public scrutiny. It is commendable that our elected County Commissioners are protecting those rights and not speaking publically about details related to private personnel matters or ongoing investigations by law enforcement.

Robert Hernandez’ act of cooperation with law enforcement, which we have been calling “whistleblower”, was an appropriate act of civic duty. Our newly elected Sheriff, who happens to be a Democrat, acted professionally and promptly to investigate, arrest, and charge the people involved. Our County Clerk, who also happens to be a Democrat, has cooperated, and continues to cooperate, in all aspects of these investigations and actions, a number of which are not in the public domain at this point in time.

Several people have stated, in public, that the termination of Robert Hernandez had nothing to do with his fulfilling his civic duty in alerting law enforcement. They also stated that they could not speak about the specific causes leading to his termination, indicating that it would be improper to put such personnel matters into the public realm.

Our County Clerk has addressed head on the circumstances that led to the abuse and compromised the public trust in his office. It is far preferable that he addresses this immediately rather than hide it from the public eye. When bad behavior takes place, it should be rooted out immediately.

As to where the Democratic Party stands – it’s no secret that we embrace these core values:

We stand for transparency;
We stand for accountability;
We stand for voter enfranchisement;
We respect differences of perspective and belief;
We stand for strengthening our community;

The Democratic Party platform states, “We must always seek to uphold true values, not just when it’s easy but more importantly when it’s hard.”

There is hard work in front of us. Too many people have turned away from their rights and responsibilities as voters in a Democracy. We are fiercely proud of our system of government and what it represents. Now it is time to make that system work for the benefit of us all.

So we, as citizens of Doña Ana County, must take responsibility for electing individuals of integrity and holding them accountable when elected.  We must resist being exploited by others with political agendas.  We must withhold our conclusions when we don’t have enough information to judge.  When we rush to judgment without all the facts, or attempt to exploit a controversy out of ambition or for political gain, our whole society suffers.

Our elected officials work for us. We need to pay attention to the work they do, hold them accountable for results, and expect them to behave with integrity and good character. We also need to ensure that we do so fairly, based on evidence, and not on innuendo nor in haste. And we need to vote. That’s the way a Democracy works best.