NM House District 46 candidate Carl Trujillo

  • NAME: Carl Trujillo
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Owner of a successful homebuilding business; Los Alamos National Laboratory Senior Material Science Researcher.
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Nambé (born and raised).
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Three terms as a citizen legislator, vice chair of Taxation & Revenue Committee.
  • EDUCATION: Pojoaque Valley High School; 3 years, UNM (mechanical engineering).
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: CarlTrujillo.com

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

One way is to create a viable infrastructure, including high speed broadband access. New Mexico consistently ranks about 48th in internet access, which is why I do a lot of work on broadband issues. The second is education to create a skilled workforce, which requires more emphasis on vocational education.

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

Drug habits drive a lot of the crime rate. This session, I was able to help establish sustainable funding for drug court, which has been very successful at helping people get off drugs. We need to address underlying causes – the hopelessness that comes from lack of educational and career opportunities.

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

I’ve been a leader in bringing more money to the LDWI (Local Driving While Intoxicated) program. Most recently, I sponsored HB35, which uses 45% (almost $20 million) of the liquor excise tax for prevention, education to change generational thinking and sobriety checkpoints & detox centers throughout the state.

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’ve supported this concept every single time it’s come up because it’s a worthy goal. That said, it’s important that the money goes to programs that work. More money is part of the solution, but it’s not going to solve the problem by itself.

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

I support both of these things.

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

I’m undecided. There are merits to opening up the primary system to encourage candidates more representative of the majority, rather than the two extremes that primaries often favor. But I see lots of opportunity for political shenanigans – members of opposing parties voting for weaker candidates on the other side.

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

I’ve co-sponsored multiple bills raising the statewide rate to $9. 25 (the governor wasn’t going to go higher). This wouldn’t undo the higher levels that many communities have, and in communities where the rate is below $9.25, most working people would prefer a smaller raise to nothing at all.

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

Most professions evaluate and reward people based on performance, there’s no reason for teachers to be an exception. The problem is, “teaching to the test” is bad for everyone and I don’t think anyone has come up with how to fairly evaluate teaching performance. So the answer is yes, but no.

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 ?

If I thought there was a fair evaluation system, yes, although of course a raise is more empowering than a bonus. Either way, teachers are leaders in our community and a hard working and effective teacher should be rewarded just like in other professions.

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

I don’t believe “efficient” is the right standard. People in more remote and rural areas need access to higher education. Online education is a great way to do that, but we need to be careful not to underestimate the unique value of in-person education that brick-and-mortar colleges allow.

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

I sponsored a bill to put more money from the liquor tax into the fund, but it’s a hard sell at the Legislature. The other options are: 1. to sell more lottery tickets (which so far isn’t working), and 2. to raise eligibility requirements, either income or academic.

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 have consistently voted against past right to work bills.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state ?

Of course, I support the idea of sheltering families from a cruel federal immigration policy. My concern is, New Mexico is the most reliant on federal funds in the country. Money shouldn’t come before doing what’s right, but what will we do if the federal government pulls their funding ?

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

Ethics reform has always been a top priority for me. To keep a Commission from becoming a political weapon, ethics complaints should become public when the person filing is recognized (meaning not anonymous) and after a preliminary hearing to ensure that the complaint has validity.

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

For transparency and accountability, it’s important to make as much public as possible. But I have a concern with violating the sacred principle of “innocent until proven guilty” by broadcasting the identity of someone who is arrested but not charged.

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 ?

We’re living with the fallout from the Gov. Richardson days of sweetheart deals and cronyism at our expense. That said, public transportation is public transportation – by definition, it’s subsidized. I think we need to dig in and find a way to make it work, whether we like it or not.

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

I not only support it, I’ve put the bill through the legislature two times (it’s been vetoed both times). An online gross receipts tax creates fairness for local businesses and helps us to stop sending so much of our money out of state to huge online retailers.

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. Accountability is what I strive for and exemptions are largely sweetheart deals left over from past administrations. I would favor eliminating some of them to lower the base rate. What’s worse, exemptions aren’t reported, so we have no idea how much money we’re losing.

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 think our kids deserve better than to have schools turned into prisons. The answer is reasonable, common sense limits on firearms, just like we have reasonable, common sense limits on every other amendment in the Bill of Rights. Banning assault weapon sales and stronger background checks for a start.

Personal background

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.