Q&A: House District 30 candidate John Jones

  • NAME: John L. Jones
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Retired
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired Navy commander (23 years), retired CEO of a regional community water system (21 years) – equates to experience in dealing with large bureaucracies and regulatory environments, and 20 years of experience in national, state and local policy dealing with water and wastewater issues.
  • EDUCATION: BUS from UNM, MA in International Relations from Salve Regina College in Newport, R.I., and an MA in Strategic Studies and National Security Affairs from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.Jones4NM30.com

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

Reduce barriers that make it harder for businesses to succeed (e.g., burdensome regulations, complicated tax code). Focus our efforts on developing a strong, well-trained workforce by combining public and private training sources.

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

One is to prioritize funding for the law enforcement system with stronger penalties for the most dangerous, repeat offenders. The second is to ensure we have a better educated workforce participating in a stronger economy.

New Mexico now spends about $300 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?

Oppose. Even as the state faced budget shortfalls, we have tripled the funding for early childhood programs over a six-year period. This proves we do not need to take the extremely short-sighted and irresponsible step of raiding the Permanent Fund. We need to know the results of our investment.

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

Oppose, until we have sufficient evidence from other states who have legalized it to evaluate the unintended consequences.

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

Oppose, but I’ll listen to reasonable proposals. Current proposals to raise it to $15/hour and index it to inflation would devastate the entry-level job market and make our economy even less competitive than it is currently.

What steps would you propose taking to ensure the future solvency of New Mexico’s two public retirement systems? Would you support making state workers and teachers pay more into the pension funds?

First, use excess cash balances in state to reduce unfunded liability. Second, keep our promises to current employees, but change how benefits are provided for future hires. Defined benefits aren’t sustainable. Third, examine when pensions start. “No” to current employees paying more.

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

Oppose, but they need a voice. Perhaps we should have an ‘other’ category in primary voting.

Do you support or oppose appealing a state judge’s recent decision that said New Mexico has fallen short of meeting its constitutional requirement to provide a sufficient education to all students? And what percentage of the state budget, in your opinion, should go toward K-12 public schools?

Support an appeal of this judicial overreach. Looking at funding for public education as a percentage of the state budget is irresponsible given the volatility of state revenues. We must stabilize them and ensure that more of the money the state already provides goes to the classroom instead of administration.

Do you support or oppose the current policy of including student test scores as part of teacher evaluations? If you support the policy, what percentage of the evaluation should the test scores account for? If you do not support using test scores, what should the teacher evaluations be based on?

I support evaluating our teachers so that we can reward those who are high-performing and provide assistance to those who are struggling. Student achievement is one part of that evaluation and we should work with teachers, administrators, and parents to revise the current system.

Do you support or oppose updating the current prohibition in the law on assisted suicide in order to allow aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances?

Oppose

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

Directing students who are not prepared for more expensive four-year institutions into less expensive two-year institutions or trade schools until they are ready will help maximize the lottery scholarship benefits for the largest number of students.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?

No.

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

The reports should ultimately be public, but evidence should be held for a trial to prevent the improper influence of a jury.

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 gross receipt tax system is a mess. For the most part, the 2003 Blue Ribbon tax commission recommendations were NOT implemented, and they still have merit. We need to completely rewrite The Code and apply the philosophy of “low, broad, fair, easy to understand, easy to administer” for taxes.

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?

Making schools safer begins with better security, including reducing the number of public entry points, better training of staff to recognize potential threats, hire more security personnel, address mental health. We should not be using the tragedies of school shootings as an excuse to infringe on legal Second Amendment rights.

In light of recent cuts, would you support or oppose increasing funding for the University of New Mexico athletics program, even if that meant possibly reducing funding for other institutions?

Oppose, if it means reducing funding for other institutions. UNM’s Athletic Department must be more responsible in managing its budget and administrators should be held accountable by the executive branch and the Legislature.

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.

Yes, as a 19-year-old college student I was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon during a misguided act of chivalry. Charges dismissed by Judge Robbins, and every time my security clearances were renewed, I had to explain my stupid action. Fortunately, an inexpensive lesson of life.

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