Q&A: House District 25 Candidate Sarah Rich-Jackson
- NAME: Sarah Rich-Jackson
- POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
- OCCUPATION: Realtor, contractor
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Operating business in New Mexico for 20 years
- EDUCATION: BA in Political Science from UNM
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: sarahrichjackson.nationbuilder.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?
We must review our administrative costs in running programs. Better oversight and program management can reduce costs dramatically without reducing the level of services to the public. We also have to review the efficacy of programs and cut those that do not produce results.
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?
Work with departments of education in non-failing states to see where their success lies and lean on partner states to help us improve our systems. We should evaluate the volunteering process and make it more accessible for family members, explore breaking APS into smaller districts, and shrink administration.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Changes to tax structure won’t address systemic deficiencies. Until we are able to boost our economy and stabilize our revenues, a reduction in GRT does not seem feasible. However, an increase is not feasible either, and we see increases almost every year, with some areas taxed up to 9.25%.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I support legalization, contingent upon a solid financial plan for revenues and clear and concise regulations that support businesses, especially with regard to employment issues. We also must look to other states and plan for issues that have become apparent when they legalized marijuana.
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?
I do not support an expansion of emergency powers. Reasonable, measured responses may be, at times, necessary and beneficial, but mental health, freedom of choice, financial issues, and long-term economic effects of any emergency declarations must be our first consideration.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support repeal of the existing law, to be replaced with new legislation that reflect current information and scientific data regarding abortion, pregnancy, and fetal viability.
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 should not allow police officers and public officials to be sued individually for doing their jobs and acting within the scope of policy and procedures.
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?
Early childhood development should be a top priority, but we have a true need for the Permanent Fund, which provides base funding for K-12 and university education in NM. Longevity of the Fund is the key to providing consistent future funding without having to increase taxes on struggling families.
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?
New Mexico should open primaries to unaffiliated voters. This increases the voter base, encourages participation, reduces disenfranchisement, and increases the likelihood of electing more moderate candidates. The polarization of our political system has resulted in two parties that, oftentimes, do not represent the majority of voters. Everyone should get to vote.
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, capital outlay projects should be evaluated on merits, weighing need, benefit, and cost. Legislators should disclose which projects they funded and information regarding who the money went to and any budget overruns should be readily available to the public. Transparency is key to governing fairly and instilling public trust.
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?
NM must take immediate steps to create a top-notch education system, favorable tax structure for families, business, and retirees, and overhaul our criminal justice system. That all begins with reviewing our current systems to see how they are ineffective and making appropriate adjustments. It requires a commitment to real change.
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 do not support a moratorium on fracking. NM is broke and there are times one must compromise for the greater good. Green energy initiatives are good, and certainly something we should explore, but the funding of green energy initiatives during a budget crisis is not prudent.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need effective programs for homeless and addict populations, reintegration services for recently released prisoners, and better ways for police officers to deal with our population. We must repeal the recently adopted “catch and release” bail reform that’s led to a dramatic reduction in police effectiveness and reduced public safety.
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?
The public has, and should have, the right to view footage. However, we have to consider whether the public (news or social media) release of the footage will affect public safety on a larger scale. Our public should have trust in law enforcement and that trust can be reinforced or eroded depending on transparency of departments.
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?
Look to Colorado, Texas, and Arizona for business-friendly tax codes and practices. Create urban infrastructure to attract workers and families. Support multi-use complexes to bring in small business and provide support for business startups, including free bookkeeping and marketing classes at CNM to support entrepreneurs. More business = more growth.
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.