NM House District 33 candidate Micaela Cadena

  • NAME: Micaela Lara Cadena
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Research Director
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: ​Formerly the Bureau Chief of the New Mexico Corrections Department, Recidivism Reduction Bureau, I am currently the Research Director at Young Women United, working towards a New Mexico where girls, women and families can thrive.
  • EDUCATION: Masters of Community and Regional Planning, University of New Mexico; BA, International Studies, Trinity College.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: lara-cadena4nm.com

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

I will continue working on efforts to train, recruit and retain a high quality health care workforce in New Mexico, by creating jobs and growing the economy we can also address New Mexico’s health care provider shortages. I will also work to bring more of New Mexico’s vibrant film economy to District 33 and southern New Mexico.

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

Too many families are living in generational cycles of trauma, substance use and incarceration. We must invest in programs that disrupt harmful cycles so that young people have opportunities to be safe and thrive. We must also support law-enforcement officers, making sure they have resources needed to do their jobs.

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

We need to address the high rates of addiction in New Mexican communities through comprehensive evidence-based substance use treatment and programming. Multi-component community interventions integrating smarter policy, policing and education to decrease drunk driving rates and increase effectiveness of law-enforcement can improve public safety over the long run.

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 increasing funding for early childhood programs, and will vote in favor of a constitutional amendment that sends this proposal to voters of New Mexico. I will also be open to exploring other mechanisms of funding early childhood education, as these programs are an important investment in New Mexico’s children.

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

I support legalization of recreational marijuana in New Mexico. With thoughtful legislation, marijuana has potential to provide New Mexico with much-needed tax income, decrease rates of marijuana related incarceration and allow us to better study the effects of marijuana use.

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

I support opening primary elections to unaffiliated voters. Recent success with ranked choice voting in Santa Fe municipal elections indicates that voters are open to measuring the merits of candidates outside of their major party affiliation. This move helps promotes democracy and better voter engagement.

Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7. 50 per hour? If so, by how much ?

I support raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, and ultimately making sure workers in New Mexico have cost of living adjustments.

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

I oppose using test scores to evaluate teacher performance. Evaluation measures must be vetted by experienced educators who understand first hand the needs of New Mexico schools, teachers and students and then approved by the New Mexico legislature.

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 ?

I oppose merit pay, it’s divisive and does not serve to fairly pay our hardworking educators in New Mexico. The current evaluation system is harmful and ineffective. Educators are one of New Mexico’s greatest assets with great responsibilities in the classroom, and they should be paid commensurate to those responsibilities.

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

An extensive network of higher education institutions is essential to ensuring students have access to higher education programs that meet their needs. Teacher certification, nursing training, IT training and other direct-entry professional programs encourage young people to stay in their communities while increasing their earning potential and stimulating local economies.

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

Solvency may be possible when we build a broad-based conversation that includes expertise of students leader, higher education administrators and lottery representatives – in the long run we must keep tuition costs down and consider the possibility of a needs based program.

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 making New Mexico a “right-to-work” state. In “right to work” states, wages are lower and job safety is compromised. I will stand in strong opposition to any legislation that diminishes worker rights. I will speak and vote against “right to work” in committee and/or the House floor.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state ?

Yes, I favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state. Now more then ever, we must uphold public safety by ensuring immigrant and refugee children and families who are seeking a better life in this country do not live in fear of losing their loved ones to deportation.

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

I believe in government transparency and accountability. I support making ethics complaints public upon substantiation of ethics violations by due-process.

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

I believe that transparency in law enforcement is an essential part of community policing and public safety. I also support the implementation of appropriate protocols for the release of sensitive information to the public for the protections of both law enforcement and victims of crimes.

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, I support continued operation of the Rail Runner alongside smarter investment in public transportation across District 33 and New Mexico.

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

Yes, I favor imposing a GRT on all internet sales, as a means of creating a fair business environment for local and small businesses in New Mexico. This proposal supports brick-and-mortar stores in being more competitive in both online and in-person marketplaces.

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 ?

Our tax system in New Mexico is in need of reform. In the long run, we must think beyond a piecemeal approach to exemptions and deductions, yet make sure we consider the vital role that farm, ranch, film, extraction industries and health care organizations play in our shared economy.

What would you support to make New Mexico schools safer? Would that include changing New Mexico’s gun laws ?

Students should be safe in their homes, our communities and most certainly in their classrooms. We must craft common sense gun laws to protect our children and grandchildren, including requiring background checks and pushing for legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of those who are dangerous.

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.