Q&A: House District 27 Candidate Marian Matthews

  • NAME: Marian Matthews
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Retired; state representative
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Current state representative HD27; retired lawyer, child advocate, criminal prosecutor, educator, entrepreneur, deputy attorney general to then Attorney General Tom Udall
  • EDUCATION: B.A. political science, Missouri State University; J.D. University of New Mexico
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: marianmatthewsforhd27.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?

Everything should be on the table: revenues, expenditures, federal funds, permanent funds; while protecting priorities like health care, public safety, education. Focus on economic recovery, continued support of local businesses, putting people back to work, and child care for working parents. Must focus on diversifying economy and tax reform.

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?

Encourage resolution of the lawsuit and focus on transforming public education to ensure all our children receive a quality education. Allow the voters to decide whether to increase income distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to repair the devastating cuts in the last decade.

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

Originally GRT taxed all goods and services at low rate. State share still low, but local governments add amounts resulting in too-high rates, regressive and business adverse. Need total tax overhaul: GRT, corporate, and income to achieve equitable tax burden, steady revenues, and system where all pay their fair share.

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

Legalization must protect children from possession, address situations like driving under the influence, and tax-structure must discourage a black market. I don’t support destroying lives by criminally prosecuting recreational marijuana, but, as with alcohol, there must be rules, including ensuring those who depend on medical marijuana are part of the discussion.

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’s emergency powers come from seldom-used statutes passed in 2006 and 2007. New Mexico has the best record on deaths/infections among the entire southern tier of states. But the economic impact is substantial. Legislative oversight and a process for reasonable review and input should be possible consistent with public health.

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

Support. The 1969 statute empowers two members of the hospital medical staff to decide whether a woman is entitled to an abortion, effectively silencing the woman’s voice, turning this very personal decision over to strangers, and at odds with the majority of New Mexicans who support safe and legal abortion.

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?

Court decisions have made it virtually impossible to overcome qualified immunity, even in egregious situations. Changes may result in serious unintended consequences for law enforcement and all public employees. I want to see the recommendations a legislatively-created commission is making on this difficult issue. We need to get this right.

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?

These programs provide much-needed and documented help to families and children, particularly those with lower incomes. I support the people’s right to vote on this issue and would support an increase in the distribution of income from the fund with appropriate criteria and controls to assure responsible management and decision-making.

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?

We should repeal the change made in the special session requiring independent (DTS) voters to join a major party to vote in the primary election, and allow them to participate in primaries regardless. Voters have a right to choose not to be registered in one of the two major parties.

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 and yes. Most capital outlay should be determined by a nonpartisan body that identifies critical state-wide and/or regional infrastructure needs. Most capital outlay should serve to meet those needs and by doing so provide the infrastructure needed for economic development and public services. The current system fosters silo-thinking.

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?

Public/private/nonprofit partnerships for achievable economic development projects; improving capital resources; improving technological, organizational, and structural infrastructure, including installing affordable high speed broadband, rural development hubs and expanded LEDA (Local Economic Development Act) projects; major investment in public education, public safety, and health care to create a supportive environment for business and people.

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 support a moratorium on drilling horizontal fracking wells near Rio Rancho in the Albuquerque Basin which has highly fractured geology that creates a high risk of groundwater contamination. Climate change is real. The renewable energy mandates the state has imposed are an effective way to address it.

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

Protect our first responders with better access to services/treatments like the PTSD bill I sponsored this year. The criminal justice system needs better-financed resources, including police, DA and public defenders, judges, anti-recidivism programs, probation/parole, and firearm policies. Rebuilding our behavioral health services, decimated in the last decade, is critical.

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?

I support the public’s right to inspect the footage except in situations where it would compromise an ongoing investigation or result in the disclosure of confidential information, including the identity of undercover agents and/or confidential informants.

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?

A really good start would be to install affordable high-speed broadband, change our capital outlay system, fix our tax code, broaden the availability of some of our economic development tools, improve our public schools and public safety, and expand child care for working and in-school parents.

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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