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NM House District 41 candidate: Susan Herrera

Susan Herrera

NAME: Susan Herrera

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Retired

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Embudo

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: CEO, LANL Foundation; Director, US Congressional Hispanic Caucus

EDUCATION: BUS– UNM.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: susanherrera.com


QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:
What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?

A. Revamp the state tax structure including personal, corporate and gross receipts taxes. B. Work with local governments to train personnel on creating workforce development programs combining local, state and federal funding streams. C. Enhance the Small Business Development Centers at community colleges to provide more services to small business and the non-profit sector.

What are the top two things you would propose to address the state’s high crime rate?

Work to increase wages and training for all law enforcement. Encourage the development of neighborhood watch groups to assist local law enforcement. Expand the concept of community policing.

How would you address the state’s high DWI rate?

Create a committee composed of municipal, magistrate and district judges to help train and set guidelines for all judges in the sentencing of DWI cases. We also need to provide more detox and alcohol recovery programs so that judges can refer people to recovery programs instead of jail.

New Mexico now spends about $270 million a year for early childhood programs, such as home visiting, pre-kindergarten and child care assistance. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?

I have long been an advocate of increasing the annual draw to 6 percent from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services.

Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?

I support legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales.

Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party.

Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour? If so, by how much?

Minimum wages for Colorado and Arizona are $10.20 and $10.50 respectively. I support raising New Mexico’s minimum wage to $10 per hour on an incremental basis.

Do you support or oppose basing any percentage of a teacher’s performance evaluation on student test scores? Explain.

I oppose basing any percentage of a teacher’s performance evaluation on student test scores for the following reasons. Student test scores are closely aligned with poverty rates nationally. Any teacher working in a school serving a poor population is a hero facing daunting challenges. We need to support these teachers and schools.

Do you support merit bonuses for teachers who do well on their evaluations? Do you believe unions should have the authority to block such bonuses?

No, I think we should stick to a fair and equitable pay system based on years of service and education.

Do you think having 32 state institutions of higher education is too many? What would you propose to make higher education more efficient?

No. I think investing in education is the best thing we can do in our state. Community colleges and rural universities serve as the community brain trust in rural parts of our state and provide an educated workforce that serves not only the college, but the community in general.

How should the state’s lottery scholarship program be kept solvent into the future?

I think we should base the lottery scholarship program on need.

Do you support or oppose making New Mexico a so-called right-to-work state, by changing state labor laws so that nonunion employees would not have to pay union fees as a condition of employment?

I believe the term “right to work state” is deliberately misleading. As for the payment of union fees as a condition of employment, it is only fair when a union has won a contract with management for collective bargaining.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?

Yes.

If an Ethics Commission is approved by voters, at what point do you think ethics complaints should become public?

Immediately.

Do you believe the initial police incident reports and videos of arrests and crime scenes should be public?

Yes.

The state faces balloon payments on its Rail Runner debt in 2025 and 2026, a federal requirement for tens of millions of dollars in safety upgrades for the train, and declining ridership. On the other hand, the train is popular with the commuters who rely on it, and the Rail Runner may seek federal funding for the safety changes. Do you support continuing operation of the Rail Runner?

Yes, if federal funds are garnered for safety upgrades.

Do you favor imposing a gross receipts tax on all internet sales?

Yes.

New Mexico has more than 100 exemptions and deductions in its gross receipts tax system. Would you favor eliminating some or all of them as part of an attempt to lower the base rate? If so, which ones? If not, why?

I think we need an equitable gross receipts system that taxes businesses fairly and there should be no exemptions. Gross receipts tax rates should be tied to annual business income and not the county of origin.

What would you support to make New Mexico schools safer? Would that include changing New Mexico’s gun laws? If so, what specific changes to the gun laws would you support?

I would encourage every school district to apply for a Student Resource Officer funded the US Department of Justice. I would support common sense gun legislation, including universal background checks, banning assault weapons, and temporarily banning weapons for individuals with restraining orders.

Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No.

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