NM gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca - Albuquerque Journal

NM gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca

  • NAME: Jeff Apodaca
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Business Consultant: Media Industries, Local New Mexico Industries, Business Incubation and Start-Ups.
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Executive level management of national and regional multi-billion dollar media companies.
  • EDUCATION: B.A. in Broadcast Management – University of New Mexico (1986)


1. What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?

Invest 5% from our $23 billion Permanent Funds back into New Mexico, creating 225,000 new jobs by providing loans for start-ups and small business expansion. Work with Federal Delegation to invest $1 billion in infrastructure development. Honor and expand requirements for government contract awards to Veterans and in-state businesses.

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

We must be tough on violent criminals, yet one-third of criminal justice resources are allocated to non-violent cannabis-related and repeat offenders. First: decriminalizing certain non-violent offenses, and second: promoting rehab and job training programs for drug offenders, would free up $220 million to enable law enforcement to combat violent crime.

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

We don’t have a DWI problem by itself, we have an alcohol abuse problem. We must fully fund alcohol treatment and DWI prevention programs. We must impose tough penalties on multiple DWI offenders. Anyone who takes a life while under the influence will serve a very lengthy prison sentence.

4 . 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 support spending 1% of Permanent Funds to expand early childhood programs. Early family intervention and in-home programs are especially effective. Until the legislature takes action, I will immediately reallocate dollars from programs with unsubstantiated benefit to our children, and will collaborate with non-profits to implement research-based, proven-outcome programs.

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

I support legalizing adult recreational cannabis use, and immediate expansion of medical use and hemp production. We will create 32,000 new jobs, generate $200 million in new tax revenue, and lower prescription opioid deaths by 25%. My opponents do not fully support legalization, instead requiring lengthy studies that delay implementation.

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

More than a fifth of New Mexico voters are not registered as Republican or Democrat. We are not a democracy if we keep that many people out of the electoral process. I support open primaries and same-day voter registration, allowing even more citizen participation in the right of voting.

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

I support a living wage of $15/hour, with regional adjustments in rural areas. The wage increases must complement economic growth and be phased in at a rate to not hurt small businesses – 50 cents every 6 months. A living wage will result in doubling consumer spending in New Mexico businesses.

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

No. Test scores vary from year to year based upon factors beyond teachers’ control. Student scores are biased due to schools’ geographic, racial, and income disparities. Poorer, rural schools have already been hit hard by funding cuts. Tying school funding to test scores and teacher evaluations will widen existing gaps.

9. 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?

Teacher base pay needs to be raised across the board to $43,000 $47,000 and $55,000 – because New Mexico’s teachers deserve to be compensated at a professional rate of pay. Rather than bonuses, pay increases should be tied to educational achievement, length of service, quality of classroom observations, and additional training.

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

Yes. We can save an estimated $250 million per year by consolidating programs within New Mexico’s research universities. Our community colleges, universities, film, and trade schools all play a vital role in providing multiple paths for student success beyond high school.

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

I stand firm that 30% of lottery sales will go to scholarships. Our investment in job creation will boost state revenues; we’ll be able to afford returning to full college scholarships. Other politicians talk about their commitment to education but sat idle as cuts were made to lottery scholarship funding.

12. 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 oppose right-to-work laws. I have seen no data demonstrating that right-to-work states have better economies. In fact, 8 of the top 10 states with booming economies are non-right-to-work states.

13. Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?

No. As Governor, I must think of all New Mexicans. We cannot risk the loss of federal funding. However, I will not deny city and counties their right to determine sanctuary status. I do not support building a border wall; I support building more trade agreements with our southern neighbors.

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

Complaints should be public upon filing unless this is within 21 days of an election involving the accused. As New Mexico Ethics Watch advocates, the Commission should be transparent in its operations. If the Commission takes timely action, there will be sufficient time to clear a person’s name.

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

Yes. Unless disclosure reveals confidential sources, methods, or information that would seriously interfere with the effectiveness of an investigation, or if publicity could reasonably create further harm for victims of a crime, the public has the right to know about crime and police activities.

16. 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?

I support continued operation of the Rail Runner. We need to pay off the debt and move on from carrying that financial drain. Rail expansion will be an integral part of trade growth with Mexico and neighboring states. We need to look forward rather kicking debt down the road.

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

Yes. We need to level the playing field for New Mexico businesses. New Mexico businesses are already subject to 5 or 5.125% internet GRT. We must update our tax laws to accept out of state internet sales taxes. We estimate New Mexico will receive well over $120 million per year.

18. 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?

Yes. Right now we have a tax rate structure that favors certain industries. This is part of the reason why many small businesses and start-ups don’t prosper. We need a fair tax rate for all, instead of carve-outs costing New Mexico up to $1 Billion a year.

19. 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 will fund programs requested by local communities. Suggestions I’ve heard include: radios in all classrooms; mandatory bullying, aggression, and “see & tell” programs; expand school behavior and mental health counseling services; restorative justice programs.

I support: banning military grade weapons; more extensive background checks on gun purchases.


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


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


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.


NM gubernatorial candidate Jeff Apodaca

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