Q&A: House District 36 candidate Nathan Small - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 36 candidate Nathan Small

  • NAME: Nathan Small
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Conservation
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected State Representative, House District 36 in 2016; two terms on the Las Cruces City Council including serving as chair of the City of Las Cruces Economic Development Committee; one term on the Doña Ana County Planning and Zoning Commission.
  • EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and English from the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.nathanpsmall.com

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

My top priority is to create the conditions for real economic development and grow opportunities in New Mexico. That means making real investments at all levels of education from early childhood to job training. I continue to support expanding clean renewable energy, value added agriculture, and foreign trade related economic opportunity.

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

I support strong investments for our first responders and the entire criminal justice system. We must strengthen our education system and grow our economy to truly reduce crime and address the conditions that create crime. The borderland region I represent is relatively safe, but we must ensure that continues.

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?

The fund is at a healthy $14B and could provide a much-needed sustainable source of funding for quality, early childhood programs. We must do more to support opportunity in education and investing in early childhood education is a proven winner. I support proposals to ensure accountability and program outcomes.

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

Yes, if we properly regulate and tax marijuana, it could be a major revenue source to fund our schools and other priorities.

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. In 2019, the minimum wage in the City of Las Cruces will rise to $10.10 after a series of three targeted increases. This can be a model for raising the statewide minimum wage.

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?

We must keep all options open. We need to get more money into the pension funds. This can include increased employer and employee contributions. State workers and teachers paid the most during the last reform effort. We must keep our promises to our teachers, corrections officers, nurses, and others.

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

I strongly support opening our primary elections to voters unaffiliated with a major political party. We need to lessen barriers to voting and participation and ensuring unaffiliated voters can vote in primaries is very important.

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?

I oppose appealing the decision. Education is the key to reversing the cycle of poverty that impacts so many New Mexican families. We should embrace this opportunity to properly fund our public schools so that all New Mexicans can see increased opportunity, safety, and quality of life.

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?

Tying student test scores to teacher performance ignores the often-underlying socioeconomic disparities in our communities. Rather than encouraging our best educators to teach in our poorest schools, we penalize them for it. Teaching to the test doesn’t necessarily measure learning nor reflect the quality of a teacher’s work.

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?

I am open to changing state law regarding aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances. I acknowledge the very personal nature of this issue and the need for sensitivity and respect when entering into this important personal and familial issue.

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

It is positive that the lottery scholarship has been decoupled from a percentage of tuition. Continuing to pursue reform to ensure a strong lottery scholarship is important, and so is looking at all other ways to make the cost of higher education affordable for New Mexico students.

Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?

Enforcing federal immigration laws is a federal responsibility. There should be information sharing about violent criminals or those accused of violent crimes. However, our diverse families should feel safe because public safety resources are best spent protecting all families living in New Mexico, not enforcing federal immigration laws.

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

Yes. Building connections between community members and police is vital for community safety. Transparency from police departments is an important part of building that connection. I am sensitive to and supportive of officer safety and victim privacy and think that should be considered regarding videos of arrests and crime scenes.

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?

I support building a more fair tax system for New Mexico. As the personal income tax rate has decreased, the gross receipts tax has increased. Exemptions to the GRT keep increasing. We must reform our tax system and make it fair, sufficient, and simple.

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?

Stronger mental health services and a better overall education system are important. Appropriate safety measures in the building of schools are also appropriate. I’ve gone through background checks to buy guns. I support universal background checks and believe we should consider additional measures to prevent school shootings.

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?

Deep cuts to higher education have hit New Mexico very hard. With a stronger budget outlook, I will not support efforts that undermine other higher educational institutions, especially New Mexico State University. I am open to other options that help restore important academic and athletic programs.

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.

Over eight years ago a State Police officer pulled me over for speeding. I was arrested because I had an outstanding bench warrant for failing to pay a traffic ticket. Deeply embarrassed, I paid the traffic ticket at the station and was released.

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