(from her SFNM blog 2003-8)

Richardson versus Dendahl:  Who’s really tearing down New Mexico? 

By Shirl A. Steward

Please note:  I feel I should mention, since I worked for the SFNM at the time this was written, that the opinions stated here are solely mine or others mentioned herein and are not in any way representative of the SFNM as a whole.  Following my comments is a letter by my friend Carmen Quintana which both addresses the issues and lends support to Mr. Dendahl’s strengths as a candidate for Governor of New Mexico.    

      The November 7, 2006 election is fast approaching.  Harsh words are flying all over the place.  The race between John Dendahl and Bill Richardson is no exception.  They have been throwing blows back and forth nonstop.   Dendahl heavily criticizes Richardson but it seems that Richardson’s components stepped way over the line by quoting Dendahl as saying he is ‘out to tear down New Mexico’.    

      Unquestionably, it was a rather low blow and quite undeserved.  Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth and Steve Terrell quite aptly set the record straight in his article “Dendahl not out to 'tear down New Mexico'.  Yet, Richardson’s campaigners are taken full advantage and using it anyway.  Why would Richardson allow himself to be party to such ill conceived campaign smear?  Does he hope that people will just accept it without question and just see this as confirmation of his claims of Dendahl’s total unfitness for office?  Humm . . .  

      To be honest, I don’t really know who might be the best candidate for Governor.   Richardson, of course, stands on his record but apparently not enough to face Dendahl in the KOB invitation for a public debate.   This lack of willing to face his opponent leads me to think that, perhaps, Richardson might wish to skirt by answering certain questions deferring to the notion that he need not acknowledge another candidate he is leading by 20 points in the polls.  I would think it for that very same reason, that he should step forward to be heard.   Shouldn’t he, as incumbent, be reassuring New Mexicans that he stands strong on the issues and that their choice in continuing to support him is the right one?   A rebuttal to an opponent’s claims IS the best evidence that Richardson stands behind what he says are the real issues. 

Dendahl, on his site, brings up many good points.  In a quote published by the Albuquerque Tribune (and shown below), Dendahl names his top issue as corruption in government and suggests that Richardson $77 million dollar plan to decrease the number of New Mexicans without health insurance is evidence of that corruption.  Yes, the idea of having state wide health coverage for everyone certainly sounds great but is it practical and would it bankrupt the state as Dendahl suggests? 

From the Tribune:   Question:  Name your top issue if elected.    Dendahl:  Corruption in state government. Gov. Bill Richardson has a $77 million plan to reduce the number of New Mexicans without health insurance. But given the increases in care costs, can the state afford that in the long run? How could the state better control those costs? The cost of the Medicaid program continues to grow year after year. In the long run, this is an unaffordable situation for the state. The solution lies in a vibrant and growing economy. Medicaid is a poverty program and as we decrease the level of poverty, we decrease the need for the program. Along with this, incentives can be created to increase the number of employers offering health care benefits and the number of health insurance companies offering policies in New Mexico. Both would serve to increase the level of competition thereby acting to control costs. 

A dear friend of mine, Carmen Quintana put together the following letter about Dendahl versus Richardson and her view of government in Santa Fe.   I’d like to share it with you.   

It’s not about Richardson or Dendahl:  It’s about the sale of our government! 

Letter by Carmen Quintana,
Founder and Spokesperson, La Herencia en Santa Fe 
October 15, 2006 

Growing up in a very American Santa Fe, before it became a Third World country, I don’t remember learning that your government could be sold to the highest bidder. This election will certainly prove whether or not we have the power to take back our government.  

First of all, I would like to explain to the general public that I consider Santa Fe a political cesspool; an enmeshment of governments, city-county-state-federal. The only one I have managed to reach is the federal in my lifelong search for the American Dream. I have survived my 70th winter and celebrated my birthday on Constitution Day, September 17th

I have opinions on everything that occurs in Santa Fe and I believe Johnny Dendahl does too. I don’t remember when I met Johnny. I probably met him at his grandparents business because my mother, Concha Sanchez Quintana was a constant customer. She made all of our clothes and by the time I was in high school – my formals – because of all the confidence she had gained dealing with the Dendahls and being exposed to all of their fine merchandise. 

We grew up in a totally capitalistic society. His grandparents had a fabric store and my grandpa, Alejandro Quintana on my dad’s side had a grocery store on Agua Fria Street. In his spare time he made gold filigree and sold his craft at Spitz Jewelers on the Plaza. My grandmother, Josefita Maes Quintana never worked publicly except before she married Grandpa. She worked in a laundry. My grandpa on my mother’s side, Enrique Sanchez was a gifted carpenter and many Santa Fe houses and buildings still have samples of his work. My great grandfather, Guadalupe Sanchez was one of Loretto Chapel’s carpenters. This fact shows up in an old Ancient City Press article.    

My father, Pedro Quintana, a tinsmith, did all of Southern Union Gas Company’s tin work and during the winter, when things were slow, began making decorative tin in his spare time, all of which can be documented as part of Santa Fe’s history. He was a member of Santa Fe’s Native Market.  We didn’t have a “Hispanic Market” and an “Indian Market” in those days. We had a “Human Market”. I grew up in a culture of self-sufficient people who built their homes with their own hands on lands that they owned with what they had or what they could create. I never recall being called a “Hispanic” and first got called a “Mexican” when I was forty years old. My older son who is almost 50 tells me he gets called a “Mexican” all over New Mexico.  

At any rate, I am FED UP with all of the racist crap going on in Santa Fe. Johnny Dendahl and I didn’t grow up that way. I am particularly dismayed at the way John Wertheim’s recent letter described Johnny in the way that he did. I wish the newspapers would begin to publish positive letters with positive solutions instead of all this bickering.  I’m sorry Johnny used the word “Hispanic” in his recent speech. In l983, when I wrote my first book, “We’re Waiting to be Americans” I used the words “Taco Mafia” and “Cowboy Coalition” to describe the political attitudes of New Mexico.   

The fact remains, we have a disgustingly, dysfunctional group of people calling the shots in Santa Fe and they are all connected and trying to save something before they all fall flat on their faces.  

 None dare call it “self-government”. I have been on a radio talk show where Johnny called it socialism. I agree. And because of my personal history in this town I will go a step farther and call it “fascist”. From my own experience, I know that all Bill Richardson has a lot of allies, like our County Sheriff who is pleased to call for my arrest for any given subject. Contempt of Court is the last reason given. The last time was to advise me that “The Government” had created a special “debtor’s prison” for this Santa Fe Indian. It was also the day I had just had a colonoscopy. I spent five days in jail for “Contempt of Court.” 

      This November election is not about Johnny Dendahl or Bill Richardson. IT’S ABOUT THE CONTINUED SALE OF OUR GOVERNMENT. 

 I, too, want Bill Richardson to be President: PRESIDENT OF MEXICO. 

                                                Very truly yours, 

                                                Carmen Quintana, Founder
                                                La Herencia en Santa Fe


Article confirming that Richardson’s claim that Dendahl is ‘tearing down New Mexico’ is false.  Roundhouse Roundup: Dendahl not out to 'tear down New Mexico' by Steve Terrell/The New Mexican 

John Dendahl’s blog Common Sense at 

Articles by John Dendahl:

Does 'Native' Now Mean 'Balkanize' in America? 

Letter from Dendahl to Richardson challenging him to debate