Q&A: Senate District 17 Mimi Stewart
- NAME: Mimi Stewart
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
- OCCUPATION: Retired public school teacher
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I was orphaned at 17 years old but I put myself through college by waiting tables; 25 years of classroom teaching; 6 years of teaching teachers; 26 years serving in the Legislature—all of these experiences have made me an educated, well-rounded person still interested in serving the public by focusing on education, health, and good government.
- EDUCATION: BA, Boston University, cum laude, Sociology/History, 1971;
- MS Wheelock College of Education (now part of Boston University), 1977
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: mimistewart.org
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?
New Mexico needs a more diverse revenue source to adequately fund education, healthcare and needed state services. Our state is ripe for a renewable, clean energy industry, and with the passage of the Energy Transition Act, we are enticing solar, wind and geothermal companies to NM.
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?
We should continue working towards a more multicultural focus on student achievement by improving our curriculum and using high-quality, evidence-based teacher training. We must continue increasing salaries to attract, train, and retain all education employees, and focus on school climate improvement and ensue students social-emotional learning.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Our gross receipts tax code has too many exemptions and has a pyramiding effect on small businesses. The GRT should be broad based, with lower rates so that more people and businesses pay but at a reduced rate. The Legislature has been looking at these ideas; now is the time to institute changes.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I support this idea, with protections and education of young people and treatment programs for drug abuse. We have the experience of 12 other states that offer regulation and control of this industry. These states have set robust tax levels and are benefiting from the industry; we should follow.
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 support increased funding for early childhood. The Legislature is going to have to re-think our revenues. Our new trust fund was supposed to provide for early childhood care and education but the crash of oil revenue has severely impacted all our permanent funds and our pension funds.
Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
The best way to allow more voting is to allow same-day registration. If an unaffiliated person wants to vote in a primary, they can just make that change on Election Day.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support repealing this law. Most Americans, regardless of their personal views, want abortion to be safe and legal and want the decision to remain between a woman and her healthcare provider, not intervening by the state or a judicial review committee.
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?
Yes, I would support that type of evaluation system, and yes we should all disclose. I’ve disclosed mine on my website.
Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
Most lobbyists are open about which bill or ideas they are working for or against. I’m not sure how much more information a law like this would give us.
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?
Our Energy Transition Act has set very high renewable energy standards; NM is the 2nd sunniest state in the nation. We could jump start our economy with a focus on solar, wind, geothermal, even hydro-electric energy that would attract clean businesses (Facebook), besides improving air and water quality.
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 updating this prohibition to allow well-regulated aid in dying provisions to take place.
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?
I do not support a moratorium on fracking. Our decades long experiment with oil production will reach a peak and drop off on its own accord.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
Provide adequate salaries, benefits and training to law enforcement; continue to encourage body cameras to regulate the use of force; continue to address root causes by increasing the minimum wage and providing sick leave and good healthcare to all workers.
Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
In general, I believe the Legislature should have open, transparent meeting access for all of our meetings with the exception of executive sessions on personnel matters.
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.
Twenty one years ago, I pled guilty to DWI, apologized to family, friends, and constituents, completed DWI drivers training, performed hours of community work and went to counseling. I continue to work with my colleagues on changing our DWI driving culture.