Dendahl sees corruption, education as biggest issues

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Republican gubernatorial candidate John Dendahl stops by the Clovis News Journal Thursday afternoon to answer some questions about himself and his campaign.

By Tonya Fennell: CNJ Staff Writer

John Dendahl is the Republican candidate for New Mexico governor. He is running against Democrat incumbent Gov. Bill Richardson.

Q: What qualifies you to be governor?
My long experience in business qualifies me to be governor. I was the CEO of a Santa Fe company and real estate developer. I also served three years as the Secretary of Economic Development and Tourism. I also have experience in the education industry.

Q:What is the biggest issue facing New Mexico right now?
I believe there are two issues. The immediate issue is the top-to-bottom corruption in government. But, it is a short- term problem that can be fixed. The long-term issue is kindergarten-through-12th-grade education. Of course, water and access and affordability of healthcare are also issues.

Q:How do you think the corruption in government should be addressed?
Corruption is a problem and it is important. Two successive treasurers were corrupt. In my experience in business, I never had conflicts of interest or an uneven balance in my workforce. I avoided this by having people who are honest and earnest.

Q: What has the current administration overlooked for eastern New Mexico?
I don’t know. Gov. Richardson worked cooperatively to keep Cannon Air Force Base. But, the governor’s focus has been on movies. Very little focus has been on eastern New Mexico.

Q: ConAgra is hoping to build an ethanol plant in Clovis, but many residents are against the proposed location of the plant. How do you feel about it?
I am not an opponent of ethanol. I want to support all energy because anything that makes us buy one less barrel of oil from other countries (some of which are enemies) is good. I believe having the ethanol plant in Clovis is a trade-off because it will bring high-paying jobs.

Q: In a previous interview, you said teachers are brainwashing children against the capitalist system. Could you please elaborate on that comment?
I actually responded to a question from a reporter who asked me if I thought teachers are socialized. I think it is irrelevant. I’m more concerned about the quality of teaching. The teacher’s unions are actually the enemy. They are interested in more teachers paying more dues.

Q: What changes would you like to see in the education system?
One major change I would like to see is the availability of more scholarships for low-income families.
I would also like to see expectations raised in schools. I want to quit hearing that minorities are an excuse for not making standards. I want to figure out what excellent schools and excellent teachers are doing and have others emulate it.

Q: Immigration is a hot topic in Clovis. How long should New Mexico keep its National Guard troops on the U.S./Mexico border?
Immigration remains a federal decision. It is a president’s decision more than a governor’s decision. I would support the president. I am pro-immigration because our country was built on immigration. But, it needs to be on our terms, not (on the terms of) desperate people coming in the middle of the night.
Q:What are other solutions to prevent illegal immigration?
We need to secure the borders, but they are so long and so remote. Either physical or technological fences need to be built. I also think the federal government needs to provide an easier way for employers to determine if potential employees are illegal immigrants.

Q: It has been said that you believe four years of Dendahl is better than two years of Richardson. What do you mean?
If Richardson wins on Nov. 7, he will be gone on Nov. 8. Richardson wants a great big win to wear as a badge around the country while he campaigns for president.

Q: It has been said that you are simply a “hit man” in the governor’s race. How do you respond to that?
Hit man? It defies logic. What could I possibly do to cripple Bill Richardson? I took this job happily. I came in to win the governorship of New Mexico against a man who doesn’t deserve to be there.

Fun facts
What’s your favorite song? Hayden’s trumpet concerto
What’s in your iPod? Dixieland Jazz
What is your biggest weakness? Being too honest and candid
What makes your angry? Hypocrisy and double talk
What is your favorite meal? Rib-eye steak, baked potato with sour cream and chives, a glass of wine and a chocolate sundae
How do you relieve stress? I run with my Old English sheep dog, Lincoln. He is one of my best friends.
Who is your hero? Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln and my grandfather, Henry because gave me the spirit of public service.
What is the last book you read? “The Biography of John Adams”
What was your first job? As a child it was working in my grandfather’s garden. At the age of 14, I reconditioned cars at the Chevrolet House.
Tell me your idea of a perfect day? A day of helicopter skiing in powder