Q&A: Senate District 9 Brenda Grace Agoyothé McKenna

  • NAME: Brenda Grace Agoyothé McKenna
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Field Representative for Congresswoman Deb Haaland
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I proudly serve as a Field Representative for Congresswoman Deb Haaland. I have also served as Chair of the former Nambe Pueblo Gaming Enterprise Board; Examiner for Quality New Mexico; Public Relations Director for the League of Women Voters, Central NM; and as co-coordinator for the Nambé-Tewa Language Revitalization Program with the University of New Mexico Department of Linguistics on the development of the Program’s first dictionary and grammar handbook.
  • EDUCATION: M.S., Organization Development, Central Washington University
  • B.A., Psychology, Syracuse University
  • Pojoaque High School
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: brendamckennaforsenate.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?

We must end our dependence on the boom-and-bust cycle of oil and gas. I support reasonable tax revenue increases, such as the capital gains tax, while developing sustainable budgets and diversification of our economy, including renewable energy.

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?

We must increase overall funding for public education, including increasing educator pay to attract the best qualified to our state, invest more in early childhood education, and include high-quality, full-day PreK. There are few things better than high-quality, early childhood programs to improve educational and life outcomes.

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

We need to eliminate the numerous loopholes in the gross receipts tax code and also ensure that food and medicine are not subject to the tax.

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

I support legalization of cannabis as part of an overall economic diversification and jobs strategy and ceasing incarceration of those who have been convicted for minor possession. Other states have legalized cannabis and resulting tax revenue serves those states well.

5. 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 drawing 1% from the Permanent Fund for early childhood needs. There are few investments better than creating universal access to high-quality, early childhood programs. Every dollar invested in early childhood programs creates over $7 in savings in reduced crime and remedial programs.

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

I support opening up primary elections because all registered voters should be permitted to vote for candidates regardless of their political party. We need to increase voter participation–not depress it.

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

I strongly support repeal of the 1969 anti-abortion law. I am an ardent supporter of a woman’s right to choose the health care decisions that are best for her. Government should not insert itself in anyone’s health care choices.

8. 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 support a merit-based evaluation system for capital outlay and also strongly support full disclosure and transparency of capital outlay projects.

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

Yes. I strongly support full disclosure and transparency by lobbyists.

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?

Our state can both increase tax revenue through measures such as increasing the capital gains tax and ensuring the wealthiest pay their fair share; and diversify our economy through clean industries that meet our strengths, such as ecotourism, local foods and agriculture (including cannabis and hemp), and clean, renewable energy.

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 an individual’s choice for assisted suicide. An individual, in consultation with his/her physician, needs to have privacy and respect, and freedom from government for this decision. To deny this right means that those who want this option have to move elsewhere. We need to respect their decisions.

12. 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?

Fracking in culturally significant/environmentally sensitive areas should be forbidden. I’m indigenous; my ancestors’ home is in these areas. The Energy Transition Act is a step toward 100% clean energy by 2040. We must do more: passing electric vehicle credits, affordable home conversions to solar power, and increasing energy efficiency.

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

The best crime solution is a strong education, starting with early childhood education programs — abundant, better-paying jobs, and more treatment and addiction programs. We must start focusing on the root causes of crime to truly solve the problem and increase public safety.

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

I oppose closed-door meetings for the budget. All meetings should be open to the public.

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.