Q&A: House District 30 Candidate John L. Jones

  • NAME: John L. Jones
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Retired
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired Navy commander (~23 years), retired CEO of a regional community water system (~21 years) – equates to experience in dealing with large bureaucracies and regulatory environments, and 20 years of experience in national, state and local policy dealing with water and wastewater issues.
  • EDUCATION: Santa Fe High School, BUS from the University of New Mexico, M.A. in international relations from Salve Regina College in Newport, Rhode Island, and an M.A. in strategic studies and national security affairs from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: JonesforNM.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 budget WILL balance – it is a constitutional obligation. The issue is matching income and expenditures. To restore income levels to support a larger budget – use science to facilitate restoration of commerce and fill job vacancies, take advantage of technology for changes in mining, etc.

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?

Our educational outcomes are poor, and the court has forced the state to fulfill an ill-defined standard for education, but it is needed. The Legislature MUST quickly and critically evaluate our educational failures, most of which are NOT financial in nature – and derive policies to correct the shortfalls. NOW!

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

Our gross receipt tax system is a mess. For the most part, the 2003 Blue Ribbon tax commission recommendations were NOT implemented, and they still have merit. We need to completely rewrite The Code and apply the philosophy of “low, broad, fair, easy to understand, easy to administer” for taxes.

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

Opposed, but I’ll listen and research. Data out of Colorado is sobering with respect to the social impacts, and the costs of those impacts. I’m also wary of a single “magic wand” solution to get the state more money, and marijuana is being presented in that light.

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?

We’ve always envisioned emergencies as significant events of relatively short duration requiring immediate decisive action. That remains, generally, the case but I’d like to see a clause that convenes the Legislature after 30 days of such an emergency for policy and budget considerations.

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

I like the dormant law that we don’t adhere to, but we also don’t adhere to Roe v. Wade which comes down on the side of the child in third trimester, late term, abortions. At the very least we need a New Mexico solution to improve what exists today.

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?

Oppose. We are responsible for our employees and their actions performing their jobs. We must keep the good ones, further train the ones who are struggling, and fire the ones that don’t get it. OVERSIGHT! They should be individually responsible for any criminal actions, we the people are responsible civilly.

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?

Oppose. The state has shown willingness to fund and expand these programs. The Land Grant Permanent Fund has a stated, valid, constitutional purpose to educate our children – an effort in which we are failing. We should NOT diminish that focus. Budgets express priorities.

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?

Primaries are essentially nominating events and should remain. That said, with 25% of our voters not identifying with a major party, perhaps we need a DTS primary and those not registered in a major party could select a general election candidate in that process.

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, but I’d like to see a legislator have the ability to target specific, important (to the district), relatively small projects that will improve public safety, education, infrastructure (economic issue). Regardless of merit, a large bureaucracy will miss important, small, “stuff.”

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?

Keep what we have, make New Mexico attractive for investment from multiple clean sources, create a reliable rural power grid, statewide communication upgrades, modified regulatory environment to be less of a make work scheme and eliminate duplication of oversight that adds no merit to good, clean, projects and businesses.

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?

Oppose and slightly. Fracking works without impairment in New Mexico, we shouldn’t discard technology that works. We have one of the most stringent renewable energy mandates nationally, but it excludes nuclear – micro-nuclear reactors distributed around the state would significantly improve our energy reliability and quality of power in rural areas.

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

First, readdress bail language; review existing criminal statutes and SIMPLIFY them – not convolute them (i.e. three-strikes rule); properly fund law enforcement AND the DA, courts, public defenders; better economic incentives and educational outcomes to reduce generational poverty; require law enforcement agencies to WORK together.

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?

Support, with limits. The new law goes too far and actually impairs the ability of an officer to do the job. Video outside of criminal contact should be withheld, and video of criminal contact should only be revealed IN court and after a court decision, or no decision.

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?

Improve our educational outcomes; require regulatory agencies to comport more closely to statute in their rule making; remove redundant levels of approval on permits; facilitate cooperative training opportunities in the trades; alter the venue statute for more local processing and narrow “consent by registration” laws.

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.

Arrested. As a 19-year old college student I was arrested for possession of a concealed weapon during a misguided act of chivalry. Charges ultimately dismissed, and every time my security clearances were renewed, I had to explain my stupid action. Fortunately, an inexpensive lesson of life.

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