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Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal
Ask Janice Arnold-Jones about the effectiveness of the current Congress, and she laughs.
“Oh, man,” she says, “Could they do better? Yes, that’s why I’m running. They need me.”
The Republican candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat says she holds true to the Republican national platform on most issues, but Arnold-Jones said she isn’t afraid to disagree with her own party.
During her eight years in the state House, Arnold-Jones recalls, “I got equally bashed for being too Republican and not Republican enough. Does that put you pretty much in a place where you can solve problems? I think so.”
After serving in the New Mexico House from 2003 to 2010, Arnold-Jones is making a second bid in November for the 1st Congressional District seat, which covers Albuquerque and central New Mexico.
In 2012, she lost to Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat who is running for governor this year.
Arnold-Jones, now 66, also served on the Albuquerque City Council in 2013 to fill the unexpired term of a councilor who had resigned. And she ran for governor in 2010, losing in the GOP primary to Susana Martinez, who went on to be elected to two terms.
The political process has left its mark, she said.
“I think I’m a little tougher than I used to be,” she said. “It’s still very interesting that I remain in that niche in being open and believing that every citizen should know what is being said and being willing to seek the truth. If we go in just thinking that you alone are smart enough to have the only answer, that’s probably not right.”
Arnold-Jones says she tried not to take personally the reaction by some after she appeared to question the potential for her Democratic opponent, Deb Haaland, to make history as the first Native American woman elected to Congress. When asked by Fox News about the potentially historical nature of Haaland’s campaign, Arnold-Jones responded, “That’s what they say, yes.”
She said she wasn’t questioning her opponent’s lineage. But she said the two candidates’ backgrounds are the same by virtue of their military moves with the family.
“You have to kind of live in the community to claim that community,” Arnold-Jones told the Journal. “It doesn’t change her heritage one iota at all.”
She later apologized when the All Pueblo Council in New Mexico told her it was offended by her comment.
“Everybody and their brother from the East Coast was calling me a racist,” she said. “I know better. But it hurt my feelings. It did.”
Also in the race is Lloyd Princeton, a Libertarian candidate.
In a recent Journal poll, Janice Arnold-Jones had support from 41 percent of those surveyed in the 1st Congressional District race, while Haaland, a former chairwoman of the state Democratic Party, had support from 49 percent of likely, proven voters in the telephone survey, conducted by Research & Polling Inc.
Arnold-Jones said she is proud of her reputation as an advocate for government transparency, noting that she was once so frustrated that she took her own video camera to a legislative committee meeting, because other lawmakers refused to broadcast their work to the public. She irritated colleagues by streaming video of the proceedings online.
These days, the state House and Senate are providing an online video stream of meetings, along with archives of committee and floor action.
Arnold-Jones held a fundraiser last month with Dinesh D’Souza, a controversial conservative commentator convicted of campaign finance fraud who was pardoned by Trump this year. Arnold-Jones in a Journal interview defended her decision to invite him to the event, which drew about 400 people.
She said he was a “historian with a particular perspective. I thought he was interesting.”
Arnold-Jones said she flinches at President Trump’s tweets at times but has been “much more pleased with his policies. I can only cheer the president for doing things that I actually thought were not possible,” including opening discussions with North Korea, instituting tariffs and enacting a more competitive tax rate.
She backs immigration reform, including a partial solution of creating a short-term program that expires in 2036, for children, under age 18, who are in the United States illegally to be granted a path to citizenship upon graduation from high school.
Moreover, Arnold-Jones said, “It’s ironic that the focus is on the border, because hundreds of thousands of foreign nationals regularly violate their visa status. I favor a comprehensive approach to enforcement utilizing a wall and technology where appropriate but focusing on illegal employment, because jobs attract illegal immigration.”
She believes the federal government has no role in setting policy or funding for public schools, is pro-life, supports the Second Amendment, removal of firearms in domestic violence cases and holding Russia and others accountable for misdeeds.
Arnold-Jones received a bachelor’s degree in speech communications from the University of New Mexico in 1974. She became active in several community organizations, including Boy Scouts of America and the PTA. She also worked in the private sector as a small-business owner and contractor to Sandia National Laboratories. She received the William S. Dixon Freedom Award from the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government in 2010.
Politics is a family affair. Her husband, John Jones, is the Republican candidate seeking the state House seat in District 30 on Nov. 6, running against Democrat Natalie R. Figueroa.
Q-and-A’s online: To find out the candidates’ positions on key issues, go to ABQJournal.com/election2018. The site also includes links to Journal stories on statewide, legislative and county-level races, district maps, key election dates and other voter resources. It will be updated regularly with new candidate profile stories and other information.