Q&A: House District 24 Candidate Liz Thomson
- NAME: Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Pediatric physical therapist
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Nearly six years as representative. Almost 30 years working in public schools, service on a number of non-profit boards from Disability Rights NM to the NM Health Information Collaborative and many more
- EDUCATION: University of New Mexico B.S. PT
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: lizthomson.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?
The June special session adjusted the FY21 budget. For FY22, we must look at all spending and cut programs that aren’t working. We must continue to invest in education and health care, especially in these times of pandemic. We may need to have lower reserves in these extraordinary times.
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 continue the education moon shot. We also need to reform the special education program, as students with disabilities are included in the lawsuit. This is the area where I have concentrated my work, as I have many years of experience as a professional, a parent and a volunteer advocate.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
We need to take a hard look at what is currently happening and make decisions based on data. We have dozens if not hundreds of “special interest” loopholes. We cannot make smart decisions until we know what is working and what is not. Get rid of what isn’t working.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Support. It is an opportunity to diversify our economy and will help our tourism industry. It must be done correctly and carefully, to protect children, keep our roads safe, use taxes wisely. Use the experience of other states to avoid mistakes and make it the best it can possibly be.
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?
Since our Legislature is volunteer, and meets few days every year, we must give these powers to the executive, in order to be able to be nimble and able to react to rapidly changing circumstances. Getting 112 legislators and staff in the case of an emergency is a tall order.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
Support. I believe women are responsible enough to make decisions about their own bodies, with the counsel of her health care provider, and family.
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?
We need to wait to get the info from the groups studying it. In general, I am not in favor of blanket immunity for anyone. As a PT, I have always carried malpractice insurance. Large payouts by public entities, due to irresponsible employee actions, hurt all of us.
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?
Yes. Investing in our youngest will provide a great return on investment, with decreased drop outs, crime, child abuse, need for special education and more. It is our best hope for improving New Mexico.
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 want as many New Mexicans as possible to vote, in every election. Any changes we make toward that goal are positive. In primaries, I am in favor of allowing declined to state to vote in any major party primary.
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?
I would support a merit-based system if we could be sure that it is fair, nonpartisan and nonpolitical. Capital outlay project funding should be made public.
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?
Invest in renewable energy, including producing the “hardware” for wind and solar. Maximize and multiply our high-tech industries, taking advantage of the labs, and great higher education institutions. Tourism will always be an important industry and we should continue to develop it.
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?
Support fracking ban, as the long-term effects are not yet well known, as in earthquakes in Oklahoma. Also, the amount of water ruined in the process is water we cannot afford to lose. I believe climate change is real and we should do all we can to slow it.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
Investing in early childhood education will help with this in the long term. In the short term, dealing with substance use disorders, alcoholism and behavioral health issues will also help. The best crime prevention is a good job so education and job development are also part of the solution.
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?
In general, I do support making footage available to the public. The identity of victims, children and witnesses should be protected. Information protected under HIPAA must also be protected. Blanket refusals such as ongoing investigation must not be allowed except perhaps with judicial oversight, in rare cases.
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?
The number one thing I believe companies look for is quality of life, including a great public education system, adequate primary and specialty medical care, fair tax programs, an educated workforce and recreational activities. We need to stress our positives – weather, natural beauty, multiculturalism and great outdoor recreation.
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 ?
Yes, as a contractor, I had a disagreement with the state on taxes owed but with more information provided, it was resolved.
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.