Q&A: Senate District 42 Linda Calhoun
- NAME: Linda Calhoun
- POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
- OCCUPATION: Real estate broker and small retail gift shop owner
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Red River
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 2006-present mayor of Red River; vice-chair New Mexico Mayor’s Caucus, 2014-2015; New Mexico Municipal League president
- EDUCATION: B.S. in nursing from WTAMU, 1978; completed Municipal Official Leadership Institute as certified municipal official; real estate broker
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.lindacalhoun.com
- What steps should the Legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak?
The Legislature is going to be forced to look at all outstanding projects and expenses and evaluate the validity of each moving forward. Every state department will have to be closely examined for areas that can support cutbacks. It is especially important to make sure we are collecting the appropriate amount from internet sales.
- What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students?
The state needs to continue looking at ways to accommodate those students with greater needs. We need to make sure that the money allocated for early childhood education is available for all districts. We need to support our teachers and give them the resources they need.
- What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico’s tax code is extremely complex. Tax reform has been on the table for many years. We need to look at ways to broaden the base and lower the rate.
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Recreational marijuana is a potential economic benefit to our state and with the current economic crisis, we will need to explore all options to boost our state and local economies. I recognize that each community views this issue differently, and I will support giving each municipality the option to decide if they want to allow the sale of recreational cannabis.
- In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. 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 think in the current volatile economic situation we need to be incredibly careful about withdrawing additional funding from the Permanent Fund.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
- Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I am pro-life.
- Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding? Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded?
Capital outlay is very important for our counties and municipalities and I think they need to be involved with their local Legislators to determine the priorities of those projects. I think transparency in government is always appropriate.
- Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
I can see arguments for and against this. I think they owe a duty of confidentiality to their client, but they would need to disclose any conflict of interest to all parties involved.
- New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What are the things you would do to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?
With the current pandemic, we need to be focused on supporting our existing businesses and ensuring they have the resources to survive during this crisis. Looking to the future, renewable energy has an important role. We need to focus on our tourism industry and outdoor recreation opportunities. I also believe that we should revisit our state’s film incentive plan.
- 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?
- Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?
Oppose. The state shouldn’t impose additional mandates right now.
- What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need to look at underlying causes including joblessness, housing issues, widespread drug and alcohol use, a seriously challenged education system, poverty and mental and behavioral health issues.
- Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
I support transparency in government.
- Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
- Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
- 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.