Q&A: House District 31 Candidate Julie Brenning

  • NAME: Julie Brenning
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Small business owner and policy researcher
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Small business owner: research consultant and professional service small business owner. Policy researcher: Albuquerque ABC Community Schools, international organizations and nonprofits, Bernalillo County Commission assistant.
  • EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Brigham Young University; master’s degree in Asian Studies from University of Utah
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: JulieforNM.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 cannot afford to cut education or public safety; we need to look at other areas for cuts. Long term, we should continue to support economic diversification by endorsing new, small, and local businesses such as growing tech firms, hemp production and sale, film industry expansion, renewable energy technology.

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?

My education plan includes increased funding for struggling schools, salary increases for educators, and increasing high school graduation rates. I support customized programming, initiatives to identify and retain qualified teachers, vocational and college-credit programming, and community schools. Education is key to a healthy democracy.

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

I will be a champion for small and entrepreneurial business in New Mexico. Gross receipts tax can hurt firms with low profit margins and high production volume. As a policy researcher I will ensure gross receipts tax scales to and does not overly burden NM startups, entrepreneurs and small businesses.

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

I support the use of medical cannabis. When recreational cannabis is legalized, I support strict regulation protecting youth and public safety. Cannabis should be regulated similarly to tobacco and alcohol, with a minimum purchase age of 21. New Mexico should glean from neighboring states, recommended policy that protects public safety.

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 support the governor and her actions to reduce the spread of Covid-19. The governor’s emergency powers should neither be reduced nor expanded. They should allow the governor to deal with public safety and life threatening health issues and enable guidance that is consistent for similar businesses and services.

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

The U.S. Constitution should serve as guidance on this issue. The abortion issue was decided in Roe v Wade in the U.S. Supreme Court. The 1969 NM state law is not enforceable and repealing it is aligned with the court’s ruling. I do not support laws that cannot be enforced.

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 are a litigious society and I believe there are better ways to hold guilty police officers accountable for bad behavior, beginning with system changes such as comprehensive training and demilitarization.

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?

Education is key to a healthy democracy. Improving education in NM is part of my policy platform, with an emphasis on supporting community schools as one part of my vision. When feasible to do so, we should investigate the option of withdrawing more money from the Land Grant 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?

Voting is at the heart of our democracy. I’m an advocate of safe, legal mail in voting, particularly during a public health crisis. I’m supportive of opening up the primary to all voters and encouraging civic engagement. We must combat voter suppression and federal election crimes on all fronts.

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 believe in total transparency of governance and accountability to constituents and when elected, will place this information front and center on my web page. Legislators should absolutely be required to disclose the projects they fund. I also support having a mechanism to ensure that critical projects get funded.

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?

We must continue to diversify the state’s economy away from oil and gas dependency by endorsing new, small, local businesses; growing tech firms; hemp production and sale; film industry expansion; and renewable energy technology. I support initiatives that increase the number of jobs in the State and fund innovative industries.

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?

Hydraulic fracking in the heavily faulted Albuquerque Basin threatens the quality of drinking water and should not be allowed. As we rely on oil and gas revenue for our public services, an abrupt ban is impractical. What’s needed is a step-by-step path to renewable energy that mitigates adverse economic impacts.

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

Public safety is my top priority. With my research background in national security, I believe we must work to eliminate the revolving door of repeat offenders, expand the number of officers and training in community-based policing, rebuild our behavioral health system, confront poverty and end violence against women.

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 contrast to my opponent, I support body cams when they are used for safety of citizens and safety of officers. I would leave it to the discretion of the courts to determine when videos are suitable for public viewing.

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?

As a small business owner, I will work with small business owners to make our State more business friendly. We must cater our tax code to attract more investment in innovative and booming industry. We must also attract new employers with continued focus on a highly educated populace.

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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