Q&A: House District 28 Candidate Melanie Ann Stansbury
- NAME: Melanie Ann Stansbury
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Consultant and senior adviser for policy and community programs
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have 20 years of experience working on community development, natural resources, and science issues in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. This includes working in the White House Office of Management and Budget, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and on projects with federal, state, tribal, local, and non-profit organizations. I have extensive experience working in communities across New Mexico and in developing policy, legislation, budgeting, and working with diverse stakeholders to get things done. Elected to the state House in 2018, it is the honor of a lifetime to serve our state and our community.
- EDUCATION: Master’s degree and Ph.D. candidate in development sociology, Cornell University; bachelor’s degree in human ecology and natural science, Saint Mary’s College
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: MelanieforNM.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?
As a native New Mexican and former budget analyst, I strongly believe we must balance our budget responsibly, while supporting our communities, who are facing the most significant economic downturn in a generation. As we craft the budget, we must prioritize these investments, while aggressively rebuilding and growing our economy.
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?
Good teachers, well-funded schools, culturally appropriate curricula, and wrap-around services that help kids thrive are the keys to success. The Legislature has a critical role in ensuring that we are investing in our teachers, schools, and kids from early childhood, to K-12, trades, university, and lifelong learning.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico needs major tax reform. The state needs to lower taxes for families and local businesses, eliminate taxes on social security, and level the playing field so our local economy can grow. I strongly support GRT reform and creating a more business-friendly environment for New Mexico’s local businesses.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Efforts to decriminalize cannabis need to be carefully weighed in terms of public policy, health, and safety. With appropriate safeguards, including oversight and protections and use of revenues for critical services (including behavioral health and safety), legalization could provide millions in revenue, which is why I have voted in favor.
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?
As New Mexico is navigating an unprecedented public health crisis, the use of emergency powers has come under scrutiny. What is clear is that New Mexico has succeeded in reducing transmission and is reopening. Moving forward, we will need to reexamine executive and legislative authorities to appropriately respond to future crises.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I believe family decisions of this nature are deeply personal and should remain between a woman, her family, and her faith and that the government should not interfere in personal health care decisions of a woman and her 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?
Our law enforcement and public officials give so much of themselves every day to help and serve our community. A bipartisan civil rights commission is currently reviewing the state’s approach to qualified immunity and will provide recommendations in November. We must follow data and ensure we protect our communities.
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?
The data are clear – one of the most important investments we can make is in our children and their education. Investments in early childhood education yield improved educational, economic, and socio-emotional outcomes. I continue to support thoughtful, evidenced-based investments in early childhood education, including from our Permanent Fund.
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’s election laws and voting systems need to be modernized to ensure our elections are open, fair, and easy to navigate. I support opening primaries to all voters in New Mexico so that everyone can participate in the political process, which is critical to our democracy.
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?
Absolutely. New Mexico’s approach to capital outlay funding is in need of major reform across the board. The current approach results in ad hoc and piecemeal funding of projects and prevents our state from prioritizing infrastructure projects that are critically needed in communities across the state.
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 needs a comprehensive economic development plan that builds on our strengths, grows local businesses, and puts our people to work in meaningful jobs. Investing in areas such as science and technology, the arts, agriculture, natural resources, health care and others will enable us to grow our economy and revenue.
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?
Addressing climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our time. I have worked on climate and water issues for years and believe New Mexico is poised to rise to the challenge by developing more renewable energy, working with industry to address emissions, and building a more resilient future.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
Crime in our community is a systemic issue that needs to be addressed on all fronts. We need to continue to make investments in public safety and behavioral health, address substance abuse issues, invest in youth, education and economic development, and improve and reform our criminal justice systems.
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?
Studies show that use of body-worn cameras has multiple benefits – it enhances the transparency and effectiveness of policing, trust by the public, and reduces complaints and use of force – thereby saving public resources. As with all public records, camera footage should be made available as appropriate.
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?
New Mexico is rich in history, culture, beautiful places, and amazing people – people who are creative, entrepreneurial, and full of hustle. Investment in New Mexican businesses, fostering economic hubs and ecosystems, pipelining our own people into jobs, and cutting red tape will enable our economy to flourish and compete.
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.