Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Roundhouse Roundup: Dancing With the Candidates

A version of this was published in The Santa Fe New Mexican
May 13, 2010

Susana Martinez once won a ballroom dancing competition. Doug Turner enjoys ’70s cinema. Pete Domenici Jr., a lawyer for more than 20 years, has been quietly taking graduate classes in community and regional planning. Janice Arnold-Jones likes the UNM Lobos better than any professional sports team.

These are just some of the fun facts gleaned from a recent questionnaire I sent to Republican candidates for governor. I included several “personality questions” along with the serious issues questions that were part of my candidate profiles that were published in this newspaper on Sunday. (All the answers to those issue questions can be found online HERE)

The fifth GOP candidate, Allen Weh, chose not to participate in the questionnaire.

Of course, this might seem frivolous and it’s doubtful anyone will chose a governor based on favorite books and movies. But some voters like to know a little about the personalities and personal lives of the people who might become chief executive.

There actually are at least two dancers among the GOP candidates. Arnold-Jones listed dancing along with gardening as her hobbies. But Martinez actually won the “Dancing with Las Cruces” ballroom dance contest last year.

Martinez listed that under the category “Talents some people might not know you had.” Answering that same question, Domenici mentioned his status as a grad student at The University of New Mexico School of Architecture. He said he has 45 hours of course work completed for a degree in planning.

Arnold-Jones, besides her talent in dancing, also mentioned that she was chief coach for the American Youth Soccer Organization in Albuquerque, where she not only coached kids, but taught other adults how to coach.

Turner’s secret talent was cooking. There he faces serious competition from Weh, whose campaign has released videos of the candidate preparing soup and curry dishes.

I asked the candidates which book they read most recently. Arnold-Jones answered Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson. Turner listed two: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and I Claudius by Robert Graves. Martinez, a district attorney, apparently likes courtroom drama. She said her most recent book was The Summons by John Grisham.

Domenici said his most recent was The Mouse and The Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. He clarified that he read this with his 10-year-old daughter.

Asked about their favorite movies, Domenici went with a Western, 3:10 to Yuma. (I’m not sure if he meant the 1957 original with Glenn Ford or the 2007 remake with Russell Crowe.)

Two of Arnold-Jones’ film picks were sports films — Field of Dreams and The Replacements. She also listed In Harm’s Way, a World War II movie starring John Wayne.

Turner listed three movies from the ’70s. Two dramas — Three Days of the Condor and Serpico — and a Peter Sellers comedy, Being There.

As for professional sports teams, Martinez likes the Dallas Cowboys, while Domenici is a fan of the Phoenix Suns basketball team. Arnold-Jones said, “the Lobos! (OK so it’s collegiate! Still love ’em.)”

Turner didn’t answer the favorite professional sports. But unsolicited, he named his favorite modern philosopher — libertarian heroine and Atlas Shrugged author Ayn Rand.

I also asked the candidates to name their favorite figure in American history. Martinez and Turner chose a safe bet as far as Republican primary voters go: Ronald Reagan. (Turner also listed Thomas Payne and Teddy Roosevelt.)

Arnold-Jones went with another Republican president, one Abraham Lincoln. She liked Honest Abe's "Team of Rivals" aspect. "He governed by consensus, and surrounded himself with people who would enrich his decisions. That’s what I have done as a state representative and it’s what I will do as governor," Arnold-Jones wrote.

Domenici went with one outside the realm of politics: Microsoft founder Bill Gates.

R.I.P. Jetter Johnson: A local civil-rights pioneer and longtime state worker died Tuesday at Christus/St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. With her late husband, Jetter Johnson, 89, started the Santa Fe chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in the early ’70s.

Johnson worked for many years at the county welfare office, first as a Food Stamp worker, then a Food Stamp supervisor, retiring in 1984. I first got to know her because she worked with my mom in the ’70s and ’80s.

She was a sweet and wonderful lady.

Johnson is preceded in death by her husband, Tom Johnson Sr., who died 10 years ago this month. She’s survived by her children, Tom Johnson Jr. and Bea Johnson. Funeral arrangements are pending.