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(Elizabeth Lewis - Daily Press)

(Elizabeth Lewis – Daily Press)

Democratic presidential-hopeful Bernie Sanders made his way to the Land of Enchantment over the weekend, holding a rally Friday at the Convention Center in Albuquerque with more than 7,000 attendees. Addressing issues of concern to New Mexicans, Sanders talked about foreign and domestic oil, environmental regulations, and racial and economic inequality.

Sanders also held rallies in Santa Fe and Vado, a small town near Las Cruces, over the weekend.

According to Sanders, the American people must hamper their dependence on fossil fuels and move toward alternative, renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind.

“We need to transform our energy system away from fossil fuel, whether it’s foreign oil or domestic oil,” Sanders told the Daily Press in an interview just prior to his Albuquerque rally. “The planet is in crisis. It is warming up very, very rapidly. If we want to leave a planet to our kids and grandchildren that is healthy and habitable, we have to move away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainability.

“Good news is, in a state like New Mexico, you have incredible potential with solar, I believe wind as well, but certainly solar. As president, we would invest heavily in sustainable energies like solar and wind.”

Vermont senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders answers questions from Daily Press reporter Elizabeth Lewis Friday in Albuquerque regarding issues important to Southeast New Mexico, including the senator’s opinions on the oil and gas industry. Lewis was one of just five reporters granted personal interviews at Friday’s event. (Courtesy Photo)

Vermont senator and Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders answers questions from Daily Press reporter Elizabeth Lewis Friday in Albuquerque regarding issues important to Southeast New Mexico, including the senator’s opinions on the oil and gas industry. Lewis was one of just five reporters granted personal interviews at Friday’s event. (Courtesy Photo)

Sanders says one of the main goals of his decades-long career in politics has been to address the root causes of economic inequality in the United States. According to him, the mid-1970s was the start of an unjust distribution of wealth and is when the United States began waving “goodbye” to the middle class.

“From that point on, we have seen a decline in the middle class, we’ve seen fierce attacks against workers, we’ve seen growing income and wealth inequality, and we’ve seen an orchestrated effort on the part of the big money interests toward building a war against working families in this country,” Sanders said. “That means trade policies, opposition to unions, and opposition to raising the minimum wage to a living wage.”

Sanders also mentioned his plan to win over the Hispanic vote in New Mexico.

“We have done better and better with the Hispanic community. In some states, I believe we have already won the majority of Hispanic voters, especially with younger people,” said Sanders. “I think the reason is twofold. Number one, we have a very strong position on the need for real immigration reform and a path towards citizenship and opposition to President Obama’s deportation policies. And my promise to you is the executive powers of the presidency, if Congress does not do its job. Our job is to unite people, not divide them up.

“Also, I think as the Latino community looks at my economic agenda, which is to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour to create millions of jobs by rebuilding that infrastructure, public colleges and universities tuition-free, I think we can garner a lot of support.”

Sanders promised the thunderous crowd attending his Albuquerque rally he would stay in the presidential race until the last ballot is cast, saying he is “in this fight until the battle.” The Vermont senator currently trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by 760 delegates, 525 of those being superdelegates, the senator is quick to point out.

Sanders’ visit to Albuquerque marked the start of high-level presidential campaign activity in the state, as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump will hold his first rally in New Mexico this afternoon in Albuquerque and Bill Clinton will stump for his wife today in Espanola and tomorrow in Albuquerque.

Both the Democratic and Republican New Mexican primaries are scheduled for Tuesday, June 7. Since New Mexico is a closed primary, only people registered with a major party may vote.

Eddy County residents may choose to cast their ballot at any vote center, regardless of their area of residence. Artesia polling centers include Faith Baptist Church, 401 S. 20th St.; the Eddy County Clerk’s Sub-Office early voting room, 602 S. First St.; Central Valley Electric, 1403 N. 13th St.; and Trinity Temple Assembly of God, 1507 W. Hermosa Drive.

Carlsbad polling centers include St. Peter Lutheran Church, 1302 W. Pierce St.; the Veterans of Foreign Wars headquarters, 1916 San Jose Blvd.; Hillcrest Baptist Church, 605 N. Sixth St.; First Christian Church, 1002 W. Church St.; Lakeview North Canal, 1300 N. Canal St.; the Eddy County Clerk’s Office early voting room, 325 S. Main St.; and Eddy County Fire Services, 1400 Commerce Drive.

There will also be one polling center in Loving, at Loving Middle School, 600 S. Sixth St.