Marisa Demarco


Marisa Demarco is a reporter based in Albuquerque, N.M. She's spent more than a decade in journalism, founding the New Mexico Compass, and editing and writing for the Weekly Alibi, the Albuquerque Tribune and UNM's Daily Lobo. She covered poverty and public health until September 2016 when she became a general assignment reporter at KUNM. 

Ways to Connect

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

All around the United States, students filed out of their classrooms on Wednesday, March 14, to stand for school safety. It’s been a month since the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida.

In New Mexico, school administrations had mixed reactions to the planned walkouts. Over the last couple of weeks, KUNM followed the students at an arts charter school in Albuquerque, as they organized with the support of school staff.

Lorie Shaull via Flickr CC

Let’s Talk New Mexico 3/15 8a: All around the country, students are walking out of classrooms to call for gun control after a decades of deadly shootings in schools. Young folks are saying they can’t keep waiting, and there is widespread support around the country for some gun control, but lawmakers have made little progress. We’ll hear from students around the state about what it's like to go to school in an era of mass shootings.

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New Mexico is still too slow in delivering food and medical assistance to the many people here who need it—and the problem is the people in charge. That’s according to a court appointed expert – a special master – who spent a year working inside the state Human Services Department’s Income Support Division.

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New Mexico’s been chasing technology firms, but this question always comes up: Are there people here who can do those jobs? A community college program is working to answer that question by helping nontraditional students get fast, intensive training, and get to work—whether it’s for a big company or at a business of their own. 

Courtesy of Lalo Alcaraz

Lalo Alcaraz is a nationally syndicated cartoonist and author of “La Cucaracha,” a daily comic strip that appears in the Santa Fe New Mexican. He was also a cultural consultant for the new Pixar-Disney movie Coco, and he'll give a talk at the University of New Mexico's Woodward Hall, Thursday, March 1, at 5:30 p.m. 

Tom Wind Energy via Flickr / Creative Commons License

The State Land Office has been working with a private company on a wind energy project in Torrance County for years. But more than half of the wind farm can’t be built because the Air Force uses the area for low-altitude flight training.

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Funding for public early childhood programs is tight around New Mexico, and it’s disproportionately students of color who miss out. Allen Sanchez of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops sparked debate last week when he told an Associated Press reporter that systemic racism is a factor in why legislation that could have fixed the problem didn’t get a fair shake. 

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The vice president of the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute has been accused of sexual assault by a staff member. Other complaints about Eric Christensen’s behavior have been filed over the course of his long federal career, according to a recent news story in Government Executive, an independent news publication.

Marisa Demarco

A short-term federal budget is set to expire at midnight on Thursday, and there could be another government shutdown. Some lawmakers in D.C. refused to support the budget bill if protections for young people who were brought to the U.S. as children were not included. Here in Albuquerque, college professors, Dreamers and allies gathered outside the Downtown offices for Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich to demand that they fight for a Dream Act in Congress.

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New Mexico’s criminal justice system gets clogged. The courts, the public prosecutors and defenders, they’ve all said they don’t have enough money or staff to process cases fast enough. Growing backlogs, people and details falling through the cracks—those complaints are common. Lawmakers are weighing a bill that would pull minor offenses out of the court system.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

New Mexico has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the U.S. There’s no waiting period to buy a firearm, and there aren’t any state laws restricting what kinds of guns people can own. It is llegal for someone convicted of a felony to have one here, and legislators are working to increase the penalty. But that may not be the kind of law gun-control advocates are looking for. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

An Albuquerque police officer was honored in front of the whole country during the State of the Union address earlier this week. While on duty, he met a woman who was addicted to heroin and adopted her baby. More and more pregnant women are struggling with addiction in the state. But attitudes can be harsh, services are limited and funding is tight, leaving people with nowhere to turn.

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An Albuquerque police officer will be among President Donald Trump’s guests at the State of the Union tonight. Officer Ryan Holets met a pregnant woman struggling with addiction on the streets last year and wound up adopting her baby. Many women are facing the same situation—and the detox and treatment options are limited. 

Courtesy of Somos Un Pueblo Unido

For years, the state department that is supposed to enforce wage laws was turning away some people who were trying to get their employers to pay them for work they’d done. Workers and advocacy organizations got together and sued, demanding New Mexico uphold its own laws. They won, and now some people can re-file those claims.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

People took to the streets all over the world, around the country and here in New Mexico for a second year of women’s marches. The concerns they raised were broad, including protecting the environment, fighting systemic racism, health care access, police violence and immigration reform. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Women’s marches sprung up for a second year in villages, towns and cities around New Mexico this weekend with a call to vote in the coming elections and change the political climate. While the movement has been criticized nationally for a lack of diversity, Albuquerque’s rally was led by women of color. 

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Let’s Talk New Mexico 1/18 8a: Call now 277-KUNM or 277-5866. Albuquerque’s City Council passed the Pedestrian Safety Ordinance late last year, which makes it illegal for people to stand near freeway ramps or in medians and to interact with drivers. It’s also illegal for drivers to interact with people standing in those spaces.


Do you think the law is helpful to public safety and will help prevent pedestrian deaths or traffic accidents? Or do you think it targets people experiencing extreme poverty in Albuquerque? Is the law a violation of free speech or other constitutionally guaranteed rights?

Andrew Lyman / NM Political Report

Gov. Susana Martinez will give the final State of the State address of her second term on Tuesday, Jan. 16, at the start of the legislative session. She’ll likely be framing her legacy as someone who’s been tough on crime.

Victor Onimole / KUNM

Construction workers tore up Albuquerque’s main avenue for well over a year installing ART, or Albuquerque Rapid Transit. And even though the new stations light up at night, the system isn’t working. The city’s new mayor said at a news conference on Tuesday, Jan. 9, that ART has a ways to go before it’s operational. 

Let's Talk 2017

Dec 20, 2017
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Let's Talk New Mexico 12/21 8a: It was a year for hard questions about race, politics and identity. Some folks will tell you it’s because the media and social media are highlighting our divisions. Others will say it’s because national politics are pinned on dog-whistle rhetoric tinged with racism and xenophobia.

Mark Woodward for SFR

Around the country we’ve seen tensions escalate between elected officials and journalists. Here in New Mexico, the story is the same. And four years ago, the Santa Fe Reporter sued Gov. Susana Martinez, saying her office violated the state’s Constitution when it shut out the paper for covering her administration’s use of private email for public business.

Mark Woodward

The Santa Fe Reporter filed a lawsuit against Governor Susana Martinez alleging her staff blacklisted the paper after critical coverage. Four years later, a judge has issued a decision in that case, saying the paper’s free expression rights were not violated but that the Governor’s Office did break the state’s open records law. 

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The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on rolling back net neutrality protections and to weigh media ownership rules again on Thursday, Dec. 14. Surveys show the changes are not supported by people across the country, regardless of political party. KUNM spoke with Viki Harrison, the executive director of Common Cause New Mexico, about what these policy shifts could mean in New Mexico.

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Hundreds of homeless people around the U.S. are the victims of violence just because they are homeless, according to a survey published last year. And in Albuquerque, police say 15 people who were experiencing homelessness were killed in 2017. 

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

Let’s Talk New Mexico 12/7 8a: Emerging reports of sexual abuse and misconduct are toppling more men in power every week. Newspapers are investigating allegations against men in politics and entertainment. Celebrities sparked a flood of #MeToo stories by sharing their experiences on social media. But what do you do when you don’t have that kind of fame or cultural cachet? And when more is at stake than just another job? And what about people who work in businesses without policies or HR departments? Let’s talk #MeToo, and the workers of New Mexico who haven’t yet been centered in this national conversation.

Marisa Demarco / KUNM

After an extra long campaign season in Albuquerque, voters gave Democrat Tim Keller a big win in last night’s runoff mayoral election against Republican Dan Lewis. Keller said the high voter turnout and decisive victory constitutes a mandate. 

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Tiny homes are being praised around the country as an affordable solution to homelessness. Voters in Bernalillo County approved 2 million dollars a year ago to launch a tiny home village project for people experiencing homelessness in the Albuquerque area.

The city of Albuquerque says the monitor charged with overseeing reform of the police department is not neutral and has an ax to grind. James Ginger released his sixth report on APD’s progress. The Albuquerque Police Department also just last week  rolled out its own website: APDreform.com. A coalition of community groups called APD Forward says the site is little more than spin meant to hide lingering problems on the police force. 


The Albuquerque Police Department has been involved in a reform process for years after federal investigators pointed to a pattern of officers using excessive force. The monitor charged with overseeing progress released the sixth report on Wednesday, and has been critical of the department’s willingness to make real changes. 

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The state Supreme Court created a commission to look at how adult guardianship works in New Mexico, and to figure out how to improve the system. After a series of public meetings, the group released 17 recommendations, mostly aimed at accountability.