NM House District 46 candidate Andrea Romero

  • NAME: Andrea D. Romero
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Entrepreneur
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Consultant, Director, CEO/founder.
  • EDUCATION: Stanford University, Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, 2009; Santa Fe High School graduate, 2005.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: andrearomero.com

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

First, expand opportunities for Northern New Mexico that build on our strengths: food production, science and technology, arts and cultural works, hunting and fishing, outdoor recreation, tourism, and entrepreneurialism. Second, increase solar and wind production in Northern New Mexico, providing better paying jobs in tech, construction, transmission, and energy storage.

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

We must focus on early childhood education programs, which are proven to increase graduation rates and salary earnings later in life, and second, provide more drug and alcohol treatment programs, which are often the root cause of much of the crime wave we see today.

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

The majority of New Mexico’s DWI fatalities are the result of repeat offenders – those with second or third offenses. They should be the focus of enforcement of DWI laws. The adoption of ignition interlocks has helped reduce DWI rates, but NM still has some of the highest fatality rates in the country.

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 ?

Support. Pre-K and other early childhood programs are essential so children entering kindergarten are ready to learn. It is has a $5 return on every $1 invested. Pre-K programs have been proven to create longer term benefits – reduced incidents of special education, higher graduation rates, and higher earnings as an adult.

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

I support. With the right policy, legalizing recreational marijuana will allow police to focus on violent criminals, reduce overcrowding in prisons, make an easily accessible drug safer, and will add hundreds of millions of dollars to the state budget.

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

Support. Open primaries have been proven to increase voter participation, which is always a good thing.

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

Women and minorities make up a disproportionate number of minimum wage workers – so raising the minimum wages helps address unfair wage gaps. It’s been almost 10 years since the legislature raised the minimum wage, yet costs continue to rise. I support phasing in a minimum wage of $15 per hour.

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

Oppose. There are so many factors that go into students’ test scores. Basing teacher performance evaluation on a test score ignores these factors and creates a one-size-fits-all system that doesn’t account for the unique conditions of New Mexico’s neighborhood demographics.

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 ?

Oppose. So-called “merit pay” creates an unfair environment and could devolve into favoritism and patronage. Determining factors for raises should be based upon additional training, length of service, and performance of job responsibilities. I believe unions deserve a seat at the table.

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

We should focus on the quality of education, not the number of institutions we have. We can make sound decisions on how to make higher education more efficient through annual assessments that analyze number of New Mexicans served, enrollment and population trends, and other available funding.

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

Tuition has increased, due to state budget cuts – Governor Martinez even vetoed funding for higher education last year. We need to restore funding for higher education which will lower the need for the scholarship, and then prioritize scholarships for qualified students who would not otherwise be able to afford college.

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 ?

Strongly oppose. When employees bargain collectively, they see higher wages, better benefits, and more safety regulations, which translate into a stronger middle class for New Mexico.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state ?

Support. I will defend immigrant communities from the home-wrecking methods used by federal ICE programs. I will stand against all efforts that tear families apart and attempt to deport productive, law-abiding, tax-paying members of NM communities.

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

Ethics complaints should be made public when there is enough evidence to warrant an investigation, similar to a grand jury proceeding. Due process of the law must be trusted, and we should have a system that respects that process.

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

Yes. My brother is a State Police officer in Northern New Mexico and I believe video technology and transparency in reporting are essential for the safety of all police officers, and for accountability to the community.

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 ?

Support. The Rail Runner should be seen as part of a larger effort to promote mass transit options for New Mexicans.

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

Support. Many states currently have a tax on internet sales and New Mexico should collect gross receipts tax as well. An internet gross receipts tax will also help homegrown small businesses to compete, which is essential to our economic well-being.

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 ?

New Mexico needs tax reform, including the GRT system, to make the tax structure fairer. The best way to do this reform is to institute a tax expenditure budget that analyzes all loopholes and carve-outs, so our state ends playing favorites to industries and their well connected lobbyists.

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 support strong, common sense gun laws, which is why I’m a “Moms Demand Action” Candidate. To protect New Mexico’s kids in school, I support gun violence restraining order legislation so a family member or law enforcement official can petition the court to temporarily restrict a dangerous person’s access to guns.

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.