Q&A: Senate District 5 Leo Jaramillo

  • NAME: Leo Jaramillo
  • OFFICE SOUGHT: NM Senate–District 5
  • OCCUPATION: Chief of Staff
  • In 2019 I was elected to the Rio Arriba County Commission and currently serve as Commission Chair. I have worked in collaboration with State, County, City, and Pueblo elected officials as well as non-profits to find solutions to issues affecting our community in the areas of homelessness, mental health, residential care for the elderly, and community health and wellness. More recently, I have worked on protecting the acequia community in the Espanola Valley. Outside of the commission, I am an Administrative Officer/Chief of Staff (COS) at Los Alamos National Laboratory where I serve as a member of the Associate Laboratory Director of Facilities and Operations team advising in the areas of human resources, management, finance, and strategic planning.
  • EDUCATION: University of New Mexico August 1995 – May 2000, Bachelor of Arts, Mass Communication and Journalism, Focus Area: Broadcast Journalismm Awarded: May 2000, College of Santa Fe August 2001 – December 2003, Master of Arts, Education, Focus Area: Curriculum and Instructional Leadershipm Awarded: December 2003
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.leojaramillo.com

1. 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?

Of course, we can’t look at the impact of a drop in oil prices in a vacuum. State leaders will need to look at other options to diversify New Mexico’s economy. State leaders will need to be flexible to respond to fast-changing conditions to balance the budget which could include cuts to programs.

2. 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?

New Mexico needs to comply with the state and federal laws regarding the education of Native American, English Language Learners (ELL), and students with disabilities. The state to meet New Mexico students’ rights to a sufficient education.

3. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax, as it has been revised through the years, has choices. Small business is not generally a favored stakeholder. The implementation of this tax has proved regressive on both goods and services. Pyramiding continues on business-to-business transactions directly impacting New Mexico companies’ ability to compete with out-of-state companies.

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

It should be legal for both medical and recreational purposes. It will attract new industries to the state and trim New Mexico’s heavy economic independence on oil production. The legalization of recreational cannabis will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. The legalization of marijuana would be one step in a new direction.

5. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and childcare 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 understand the need for high quality early childhood education and support the constitutional amendment to take an additional 1% from the LGPF. The return on investment in taking at least $150 million a year from the endowment would have a tremendous impact on our students and the future of New Mexico’s workforce.

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

Closed primaries are the biggest form of voter suppression in the country. In 75% of elections, the outcome is determined in the first round of voting—the primary. An open primary lets voters focus more on candidates’ credentials on views and issues while benefiting all voters, not just two political parties.

7. Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaw’s abortion, except in limited circumstances?

A decision about abortion is personal. This healthcare decision needs to remain between a woman and her healthcare provider, and without politicians, or a group of strangers, interfering.

8. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

No. The capital outlay process is the way the state funds infrastructure and other projects every year are determined. Its significance, particularly for rural areas that can’t fund their own projects, can’t be understated. For decades, this is how towns have gotten their Little League fields, counties obtain badly needed road repair, etc.

Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded?

Yes. Unfortunately, the current process is too rushed and too secretive, and that results in a lack of coordination among the Governor’s Office, legislators, and local officials about which projects are the most urgently needed and how to fully fund them. Transparency is a state leaders’ responsibility to their constituents.

9. Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?

Drastically expand disclosure of lobbyist activities and influence campaigns by requiring all lobbyists to disclose any specific bills, policies, and government actions they attempt to influence; any meetings with public officials; and any documents they provide to those official.

10. 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?

It is important to diversify our economy so that we have stronger sectors such as technology, agriculture, renewable energy, the legalization of recreational marijuana, etc. contributing to our economy. Reaching those goals could take a long time but must be acted upon. As a smaller state (in regard to population), New Mexico has the greatest challenge.

11. 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 support allowing a terminally ill, mentally capable adult residents of New Mexico the option to request, obtain and take medication—should they choose—to die peacefully in their sleep if their suffering becomes unbearable.

12. Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking?

We cannot allow the lure of short-term profits to blind us to the risks of irreversible climate change and damaged and depleted aquifers undeniably posed by fracking.

And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?

The Energy Transition Act, SB 489, moves power companies to solar and wind. It mirrors the legislation on the timeline for transitioning to renewables and adds provisions to help communities recover from the jobs and tax base. Now wind and solar are cheaper than coal, which seemed impossible at one point in time.

13. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?

Criminal justice reform does not require tougher sentences which do not deter crime and I believe the solution for the state with the highest rate of property crime in the country must address New Mexico’s high rates of poverty as well as access to mental health care/treatment.

14. Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?

A list of projects is decided and approved by the budget-writing committee, but there is no disclosure as to which legislator requested the money or why some projects were selected while others were not. The legislators were not elected to find ways to keep the levers of government hidden behind closed doors.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?


2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?


3. 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.

Nearly 25 years ago at the age of 18, I was arrested for DWI as a college freshman attending the University of New Mexico (UNM). As a young man away from home for the first time, I took responsibility for my action and sought counseling from a licensed councilor at UNM and I completed all requirements of the sentence.

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