1st Congressional District candidate Damon Martinez

  • NAME: Damon Martinez
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Attorney
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: U.S. Attorney for the District of New Mexico from 2014-2017 after 13 years as Assistant U.S. Attorney.
    15 year member of the U.S. Armed Forces, currently Lt. Colonel in U.S. Army Reserve.
    Legislative Assistant to Senator Jeff Bingaman, Legislative Director to (then) Representative Tom Udall, where I worked on federal legislation such as environmental protection, small businesses, gun safety, and foreign affairs.
  • EDUCATION: Graduate of St. Pius X High School, BA in Political Science and Economics from University of New Mexico in 1989, M.B.A. from the UNM Anderson School of Management in 1993 and Juris Doctor from UNM School of Law in 1992.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: damonmartinezforcongress.com

IMMIGRATION

1. Please give your position on DACA.

I support DACA and believe that Congress should pass clean legislation giving people who were brought here as children, who have committed no felonies or serious misdemeanors, a path to citizenship. Many of these young people are teachers, police officers, EMTs, members of the military, or students in our universities. They enrich our communities and are part of a proud legacy of immigrants who have built our nation.

2. Do you favor amnesty, a path to citizenship or worker permits for most or all of the people now living illegally in the U.S.? Who do you think, if anyone, should be deported?

For those who do not qualify for DACA, I support a combination of a path to citizenship and worker permits for most undocumented people currently living in the United States. Undocumented immigrants who have not committed any felonies or serious/violent misdemeanors should be provided with the option of a path to citizenship, which would include paying any back taxes and modest immigration fees based on income.

3. Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose should be done to increase their security? Do you support Trump’s proposal to build a $25 billion wall?

Border security is a complex issue requiring a comprehensive solution.

I oppose the border wall and find the recent proposal to use military funds to pay for it offensive. The best way to increase border security is with increased technology (including more infrared cameras and drones), a drug policy focused on treatment, prevention, and education, and a foreign policy in Mexico and Latin America that strengthens and supports their economies.

4. What’s your position on skills-based immigration vs. family-based?

Families are the cornerstones of any society and the building blocks of our communities. Family-based versus skills-based immigration should not be framed as a zero sum game, as both enrich our country and our economy.

Both those who bring needed skills to this country, and those who have strong family ties here, including to grandparents, should be given priority in our immigration system.

 

SCHOOL SAFETY AND GUN CONTROL

1. Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of assault-style weapons? If so, what would you do about the millions of the assault-style weapons now legally owned by American citizens?

As a member of the armed forces, I have trained with and carried assault-style weapons and know that they do not belong in civilian hands. I support a ban on the sale of assault-style weapons as well as on large capacity magazines. For those guns already in the community, I support a volunteer buyback program and a system to register these assault weapons.

2. What other, if any, gun law changes would you support?

Removing liability protections for gun manufacturers and sellers; investment in CDC research on gun violence; a ban on bumpstocks; ensuring silencers cannot be purchased; universal background checks; red flag systems for domestic violence convictions, temporary restraining orders, and certain mental illnesses; raising the age for long-gun purchases; improvements to the federal database and better use of technology to flag problematic purchasers; and federal licensing standards to include gun safety courses.

3. Would you favor a repeal of the 2nd amendment?

No, I do not believe it is necessary to change the Constitution to effect gun safety. All of the changes I have proposed, including a ban on assault weapons, have been found to not conflict with even the strict interpretations of the 2nd Amendment, which was written to ensure a well-regulated militia could use firearms.

 

4. While much of the discussion on school safety centers on gun control, what other measures would you support to make schools safer?

Fully funding the APS Crossroads Counselor’s program, which at one time had eight counselors serving an entire district of hundreds of thousands of students. I support funding of counseling and intervention programs for kids struggling with mental health or other issues, as well as funding every school district to allow them to hire trained law enforcement officers as school security and to distribute them throughout the schools as needed.

 

FOREIGN POLICY

1. What do you propose the U.S. do with regards to Syria?

Chemical attacks on civilians are a serious violation of international law, human rights, and common decency. Moreso however, there are negotiations taking place on post civil war Syria, and we need a seat at that table, which we don’t currently have. The only actors engaging there are Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Turkey, and our absence is leaving us vulnerable to the dangerous results of instability in the region.

2. In Afghanistan?

We need to make the difficult decision as to whether we are going to invest in a long-term strategy to rebulid Afghanistan, such as we did in post World War II Germany, instead of trying to engage there in a piecemeal fashion.

Our qualified support is allowing the Taliban and Russian surrogates to re-emerge as players, while Pakistan gives safe harbor to the Taliban in their efforts.

3. In Mexico?

We start by according Mexico the respect it deserves as our neighbor and largest trading partner. We need to develop a trade zone here in Albuquerque that allows us to add value to the interstate commerce traveling through New Mexico either via the Mexican-American border or ports of California.

We need to engage productively with our neighbor and work on strengthening, not eroding, our relationship with Mexico.

4. Relations with Russia are said to be at their worst in many years after allegations of Russian meddling in our elections, the Trump administration’s decision to sell weapons to Ukraine and the recent expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats. Do you approve of these actions? What would your posture be towards Russia?

Russia’s efforts to wage cyber warfare on our elections, undermine our democratic process, and commit political assassinations globally cannot be tolerated.

I support the expulsion of the diplomats, but we need to do more, including putting in place aggressive sanctions, increasing support for our

NATO allies, monitoring developments in former Soviet satellite states, and treating the Russian government as a totalitarian regime requiring isolation and sanctions from the global community.

5. If talks fail, would you support a pre-emptive strike on North Korea to degrade its nuclear capabilities and missile delivery systems?

No. Many military experts have indicated it is impossible to know exactly where to strike to truly degrade the nuclear capabilities, and that we would launch into a war that could ultimately include Russia and China and would surely lead to huge numbers of casualties, civilian and military. Such action would be both dangerous and reckless.

 

ECONOMY

1. How would you make New Mexico less dependent on federal spending?

I would focus on building local businesses, particularly in the technology sector. We need to make it easier for technology transfer from the labs to make it into the community. As U.S. Attorney, I worked with the laboratories and the university to try and build a closer relationship between the students and work opportunities.

We need to leverage whatever resources we have locally to grow our economy and businesses.

I would also advocate for an investment of federal funds into our educational system, from pre-k thru college, to build the type of workforce that larger companies are looking for as they expand and grow.

2. Do you support or oppose President Trump’s imposition of higher tariffs on China? Why or why not?

Oppose. Trade wars rarely benefit American workers and families.

If President Trump wants to grow the middle class and truly support American working families, he should instead work to pass better labor protections, raise the minimum wage, enact paid leave, and improve working conditions.

 

OTHER

1. Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax

dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions?

I do not support limits on when a woman should be permitted to make the best decision possible for herself and her family. Late-term abortion is often emotionally heartbreaking and medically complicated, and it is best left to a woman, her physician, and any family or faith support system she chooses to include. The State Supreme Court has upheld the practice of using Medicaid to pay for abortions to ensure lower-income women have a meaningful right to control their own bodies, and I agree with this stance.

2. What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction?

We cannot prosecute our way out of the heroin opioid epidemic. The HOPE

Initiative, which I started in partnership with UNM Health Sciences focusing on treatment, prevent, and education, is a model program that should be adopted nationally.

As someone whose family has been personally affected by this epidemic, I am committed to fully funding such programs. We also need to hold the pharmaceutical companies, who created this epidemic, accountable.

3. Do you favor or oppose a national single day payer health system? Explain.

Yes. Lack of access to health care only exacerbates the behavioral health and substance abuse crisis our state is facing, which is fueling our crime problems, increasing child abuse and domestic violence, and straining our education system. These chronic health problems would be greatly alleviated by a single payer system as they can often only be treated through long-term comprehensive treatment programs, which requires expanded health insurance and funding.

4. What would you do to rein in health care costs?

We must first address how big pharmaceutical companies’ current patent system protects them from competition and makes it difficult to purchase pharmaceuticals at a cheaper price. I would also incentivize state and health systems to invest heavily in primary care and behavioral health to forestall issues that become more costly as diseases progress. I also support the shift

to value-based health care, which will rein in costs long-term.

5. If elected, are there any issues you could work with President Trump on, and would you be willing to do so?

President Trump would first need to earn our trust and convince policymakers that he comes to the table in a good faith effort to improve the lives of everyday Americans.

Having been fired by President Trump, and having found out about it from the Washington Post, I find it unlikely that he is interested in making good policy. If he were though, we would start by addressing the opioid crisis.

6. If you had to decide today, would you vote to impeach President Trump?

It’s critical we do nothing to compromise Robert Mueller’s investigation.

That said, I see evidence of obstruction of justice in President Trump’s firing of James Comey, threats to the Department of Justice, and ongoing efforts to undermine the rule of law.

I would support the House of Representatives beginning impeachment proceedings, and, as a former prosecutor of organized crime, I would look forward to taking an active role in these proceedings.

 

7. Should the federal government play a role in setting education policy for the nation’s public schools? Explain your answer.

Yes. Education is the bedrock of our democracy. When voters are not critical thinkers, when they do not know what questions to ask, understand science, or respect history, they cannot make good electoral choices. The federal government must play a role in this core piece of our democracy, and as such, should set appropriate national standards and provide the funding necessary for students to achieve success.

8. Why do you want to be a member of Congress?

When President Trump fired me as U.S. Attorney, our office was in the midst of critical work improving our communities and holding bad actors accountable.

Now, this President is not just rolling back our progress, he is attacking our bedrock institutions and eroding trust in our democracy. In Congress, I’ll bring serious, experienced leadership to the ongoing fight to end gun violence, defend our environment, and protect our civil rights.

 

PERSONAL BACKGROUND

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

No.

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

No.

3. 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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