With the election 8 days to go there is but one question to ask our friends and family members, “have you voted?” Every conversation should begin with a friend or family member around living out the words of the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
A couple of weeks ago, my opponent and I missed the deadline on a questionnaire given to us by the Rio Rancho Observer. In order to be transparent, my answers to these questions are below. You deserve to know where I stand on important issues.
- What restrictions or requirements should the state government be allowed to enact in public-health emergencies, and what should be the procedure for enacting them?
The governor has appropriately used the state’s extraordinary authority to respond to the pandemic. However, the current emergency reveals the need for legislative checks and balances. The governor can renew the emergency order without limit and has wide latitude to enact rules, regulations, and penalties. After a period of time (e.g., sixty days) the state legislature should have the opportunity to review the emergency actions taken but with a high bar for overriding any decision (e.g., two-thirds vote of both Houses).
2. What, if any, changes should be made to funding and regulation for law enforcement in New Mexico?
Most New Mexico law enforcement officers are dedicated professionals who want to serve and protect our communities. Law enforcement must be adequately funded (not defunded). Social workers, not police officers, should respond to people who have mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness issues. I would promote transparency and accountability in use of force investigations. I would carefully review the recommendations of the state’s Civil Rights Commission on qualified immunity and favor legislation making law enforcement accountable for use of excessive force while protecting those who act reasonably and in good faith.
3. What, if anything, should be done about the issues of racism and racial equality in New Mexico?
All New Mexicans deserve fair and equal treatment, but institutional racism unfortunately persists. I support the work of the Governor’s Council on Racial Justice, established after the death of George Floyd. This diverse group of New Mexicans, which includes representatives from law enforcement and minorities will advise the administration and monitor state institutions to hold them accountable for taking action to ensure fair and equal treatment and opportunities for all. As a member of the State House, I would bring my constituents together to seek legislative and other solutions needed to achieve racial justice and help us move forward together.
4. What should be done to help New Mexico’s economy recover from the pandemic?
Continuing to reduce our infection rate is essential to economic recovery. We need to diversify our economy through solar, wind energy, and other green initiatives to create jobs and fight global warming. We should legalize recreational cannabis, with appropriate restrictions, to support local agriculture, create new jobs, and generate tax revenue. We must fix and expand our infrastructure including roads, bridges, and broadband coverage. We should support our existing economic strengths including the tourism and film industries. We need to seek ways to make quality childcare available so that parents can return to work.
5. What are your views on universal health care?
Health care should be a right, not a privilege. We should maintain affordable coverage for those with preexisting conditions, include a public option in the Affordable Care Act, increase ACA marketplace subsidies to foster affordability, maintain Medicaid expansion, and rein in the cost of prescription drugs. We must ensure that people who lose their jobs do not lose health care for themselves and their families. Universal health care is a key to our state’s economic prosperity and an essential tool for preventing or mitigating pandemics and epidemics in the future.
6. What would be your top priorities in the upcoming legislative session?
New Mexico’s economic recovery from the pandemic and future economic growth must be a top priority for all legislators. As an educator for the last 38 years, including five years as principal of Rio Rancho High School and almost nine years as the executive director of the New Mexico Activities Association, I am passionate about improving education and will offer practical, effective proposals. Other priorities include fixing our infrastructure and protecting the environment.
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