Q&A: U.S. House District 3 Teresa Leger Fernandez
- Name: Teresa Leger Fernandez
- Political Party: Democratic
- Occupation: Social impact lawyer
- City of residence: Santa Fe
- Relevant experience: Appointed by President Obama. Advised the president and Congress on cultural and historic preservation policy. Appointed by President Clinton to one of the nation’s most prestigious leadership and public service programs, appointed as special assistant to the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Leger Law and Strategy, LLC, worked for 30 years as counsel for tribes and their business entities…Commissioner, Las Acequias de Chupadero…
- Education: West Las Vegas High School; Yale University, B.A.; Stanford Law School, J.D., with distinction
- Campaign website: www.teresaforall.com
- What is your opinion of the coronavirus response packages passed by Congress and signed by President Trump? Is there anything you would have done differently? The packages were good first steps, but we must increase our focus on small businesses, provide support to state and local governments and hospitals, increase resources for Native Americans, include immigrants in the testing and economic programs, and consider monthly minimum payments until the pandemic and economic crisis are over.
- What actions to restore the economy, if any, do you feel Congress should take once the outbreak has been contained? We need a financial recovery package — similar to the effort used to come out of the Great Depression. If we reinvest in our infrastructure, address our inequality, make paid family leave permanent and tackle the climate crisis, we can build toward a healthy, just and sustainable future.
- What is your position regarding climate change? What actions should Congress take, if any, regarding the environment? Climate change is an existential crisis. Congress must act to reduce carbon pollution, invest in wind and solar, and pass clean energy tax incentives while reducing fossil fuel subsidies. The U.S. must rejoin the Paris Agreement. The Sierra Club endorsed me as the environmental champion in this race.
- What is your opinion on energy initiatives that have been introduced both on the federal and state level such as the Green New Deal and the New Mexico Energy Transition Act? I have spent years promoting renewable energy issues for New Mexico’s communities, and will act to protect our air, land and water in Congress. I fully support the principles outlined in the Green New Deal and agree with the ETA’s renewable portfolio standards and investments in the four corners region.
- Fracking bans have been introduced in Congress by Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, and presidential candidate Joe Biden indicated in a debate he would support a ban. Where do you stand on the issue? We must transition to green, clean energy and do so in a way that creates economic opportunity and honors and supports those coming out of oil and gas jobs.
- What is your position on the leasing of federal land for oil, gas and mineral development? Do you agree with the removal of energy development in a 10-mile radius around Chaco archaeological sites? Are there other areas of the state that should be considered for similar treatment? New drilling should not proceed within the federal lands of the proposed Chaco buffer zone. The existing Bureau of Land Management leasing programs do not adequately take into account the costs to our climate and should not proceed unless revenues exceed the costs to the public from the climate disruption — which they don’t.
- What are the most important actions Congress should take regarding people now living illegally in the U.S.? What about for those who want to come in? Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, keeps families together and treats everyone with dignity. Congress must also pass the DREAM Act, which must also extend to dreamers’ families.
- Do you believe the borders are secure enough? If not, what do you propose should be done to increase security? I strongly oppose Trump’s expensive, racist and ineffective border wall. We should deploy technology and intelligence to combat criminal activity and contraband which flows primarily through ports of entry. We should not punish or treat inhumanely asylum seekers who have a legal right to seek refuge at our borders.
- Do you favor a federal ban on the sale of military style semi-automatic rifles? If so, what would you do about the millions of such weapons now legally owned by American citizens? What other, if any, gun law reforms would you support? Yes. Existing assault weapons should be placed under the jurisdiction of the National Firearms Act, which regulates weapons like machine guns and balances rights of law-abiding gun owners with the need to protect our communities. I also support background checks on all gun sales, among other common-sense gun safety measures.
- Federal spending plays an important role in New Mexico’s economy. What should be done to increase other economic drivers here? New Mexico has incredible resources, from our abundant wind and solar to the technology at our labs to the talent and creativity of our local communities. We should use all our resources to tackle our climate crisis, build a green and innovation based economy while also promoting recreation and tourism.
- Congress passed the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement as a replacement for the North American Free Trade Agreement. Are there any other trade initiatives you’d like to see Congress pass if you’re elected? In Congress, I would support trade policy that protects workers and working families and prioritizes their wellbeing over that of corporations and special interests — while protecting our environment at the same time.
- Do you favor or oppose a national single payer health system? I support a single-payer health system with key principles: no discrimination for pre-existing conditions; lower prescription drug costs; no bankrupting copays or deductibles; increased funding for rural health centers and more equitable payments to doctors for similar services. This pandemic shows the dangers of tying health care to employment.
- Do you favor or oppose limits on late-term abortion, and do you believe tax dollars should or should not be used to fund abortions? I fully support every woman’s right to make her own health care decisions, and strongly oppose attempted restrictions on reproductive freedom. I support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which denies many women access to the health care that they need. I’m endorsed by Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List, and NARAL.
- What should be done at the federal level to address the crisis of opioid addiction? Any other drugs? We must treat the opioid/addiction crisis as a public health crisis, and ensure that treatment is considered and covered as health care. In Congress, I would support the CARE Act, which — over 10 years — would invest $100 billion to provide prevention services, treatment, and recovery services in deeply affected communities.
- Why do you want to be a member of Congress? I’ve spent 30 years working with New Mexico’s diverse populations to build healthy, thriving communities. I know I can have an even bigger impact in Congress. I’ve built health centers, worked on broadband and infrastructure, fought for voting rights, protected our water. I know what it takes to make progress here.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No.
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?No.
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. No.