Q&A: House District 20 Candidate Meredith Dixon

  • NAME: Meredith Dixon
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Small business owner
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Field representative for Sen. Tom Udall; actively involved in the Albuquerque community; and coordinated statewide Jobs Listening Tour events for Speaker Brian Egolf.
  • EDUCATION: B.A. Chatham College, M.A. University of Pittsburgh
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: meredithfornewmexico.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 must double-down on efforts to diversify the economy and build a broader, more stable revenue base. We need to ensure that our small businesses are receiving the support, like the loan program passed in the special session, and tools they need to succeed today and grow long term.

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 legislature should ensure funding targeting at-risk students is having a positive impact; encourage additional funds to be spent in classrooms; support community school models that successfully engage parents and the community; and invest in our educators through recruitment, training and mentorship programs, and continual professional development.

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

Gross receipts tax reform is critical and will help level the playing field for New Mexico small businesses. We can lower the rate by broadening the base and removing the hundreds of exemptions. Also, we should evaluate tax credits and deductions more frequently to ensure they have their intended effect.

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

I support legalizing recreational marijuana use and taxing its sales. Legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana can result in more jobs and a sustainable source of revenue for the state. We should have a roadmap to legalization that incorporates best practices and experiences learned from neighboring states.

Do you believe changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other time of crisis. If so, do you believe such powers should be expanded or reduced and in what specific ways?

The governor needs the authority to respond quickly to public emergencies such as natural disasters, homeland security incidents, or public health crises. However, we should consider proposals for routine, formal consultation between the legislative and the executive branch during lengthy or severe emergencies.

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

I support repealing the 50-year-old abortion ban that criminalizes a woman’s ability to make her own personal medical decision. A majority of New Mexicans support repealing this outdated and destructive law and keeping this very personal decision between a woman and her doctor.

Do you support or oppose enacting a new state law that would allow police officers and other public officials to be sued individually by abolishing the defense of qualified immunity?

During the special session, the legislature established a commission to examine statutory changes and review qualified immunity. I look forward to their report and I want to evaluate the recommendations and data before deciding on specific changes.

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?

New Mexico’s child poverty rates and adverse childhood experiences (ACES) are among the worst in the nation. Investing in early childhood services is a proven, efficient, and cost-effective way to invest in our future. The proposed constitutional amendment would ensure reliable funding for early childhood development and education.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? 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 primaries to voters who are not affiliated with either major party. I believe that having a strong, participatory democracy is good for society and we should encourage voting and make it as convenient as possible for all New Mexicans.

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 believe that it is time we modernize the funding process for infrastructure so that we spend our dollars as strategically and efficiently as possible. Yes, I support transparency in the capital outlay process.

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 steps should the state take to diversify its economy and revenue base?

New Mexico should diversify by leveraging competitive advantages, like aerospace, intellectual capital, and renewable energy; supporting existing and new businesses with proven economic development tools like JTIP (the Job Training Incentive Program) and LEDA (the Local Economic Development Act); increasing community readiness programs; expanding access to early and mid-stage capital, and helping small businesses receive the tools they need.

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 believe an immediate moratorium on fracking is impractical for consumers, industry, and budget priorities like funding for New Mexico schools. However, I do support additional aggressive renewable energy investments and mandates, methane capture efforts, retrofitting residential and commercial buildings, and incentivizing consumer transition to solar and electric energy.

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

The legislature should address crime and improve public safety in two ways: first, by tackling systemic issues that lead to higher crime rates and second, by investing in capabilities for law enforcement, such as crime-fighting technology, community policing councils, and partnerships with academia, technology industries, and other local experts.

Do you support or oppose the public’s right to inspect footage taken by cameras worn by law enforcement officers? Under what circumstances, if any, should police video be withheld from the public?

Law enforcement agencies have to follow the Inspection of Public Records Act and that law generally requires disclosing video, with exceptions; but those really should be exceptions and disclosure the rule. We must balance the need for transparency with privacy issues such as interviews of children and vulnerable victims.

Members of New Mexico’s business community contend some state laws and regulations need changing so the state can better compete with Texas and Arizona when it comes to attracting companies. What steps do you believe should be taken to improve New Mexico’s economic competitiveness?

Many factors determine economic competitiveness – from quality of education and high rate of poverty to our low cost of renewable electricity. The legislature must increase financial support for strategic recruitment efforts right now, when we need outside capital brought into the state along with high-paying jobs with good benefits.

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?

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

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