Q&A: House District 36 Candidate Nathan Small

  • NAME: Nathan Small
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Conservation
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Two-term state representative, House District 36, elected in 2016 and 2018, serving on the House Appropriations Committee; sponsored and passed bipartisan legislation for renewable energy, value added agriculture, protecting New Mexico’s freshwater and Independent Ethics Commission constitutional amendment.
  • EDUCATION: Bachelor of Arts in philosophy and English from the College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: nathanpsmall.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 continue utilizing federal Covid-19 resources, including distributing funding to New Mexico cities, counties, communities and sovereign tribal nations. We must utilize legislative directed savings and the governor’s prudent cost cutting measures. And we must support economic recovery, with additional budget cuts only when absolutely necessary.

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?

We must continue supporting investment in the at-risk index, bilingual education services, and extended learning. We must stop penalizing school districts serving Native American students that receive federal impact aid. We must continue working with diverse advocates including sovereign tribal nations, Hispanic educators and culturally competent education experts.

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

I support building a more fair tax system for New Mexico. This includes looking to reduce unnecessary tax loopholes, leveling the playing field for small businesses and New Mexico families, and focusing on a tax system that is fair, sufficient, and simple.

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

I support legalizing recreational cannabis use for adults over the age of 21. We must institute a strict regulatory and tax structure that puts the safety of New Mexicans first, while bringing needed revenue and expanded economic opportunity.

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 am open to updating New Mexico’s emergency powers. We must study Covid-19 challenges that highlight shortcomings in emergency powers while also addressing the unlimited duration currently allowable for emergency declarations. Our system of checks and balances is vital, and we must make sure that it is balanced.

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

We can all hold our own moral values about abortion, but a woman’s decision about reproductive healthcare – including abortion – should only be between a woman and her health care provider.

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?

I would need to see how the specific legislative language addresses this issue. Public safety is paramount, and we must support our first responders and law enforcement officers while bringing urgently needed reforms. These reforms should address inappropriate uses of qualified immunity, to safeguard all New Mexicans.

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?

A small increased disbursement from the Land Grant Permanent Fund can provide a much-needed sustainable source of funding for quality, early childhood programs. I support, and have voted for, the constitutional amendment giving New Mexicans the opportunity to vote to support investing in early childhood education.

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?

I support allowing all voters, regardless of party registration, to participate in primary elections. When the state funds primary elections, as we do in New Mexico, it is our responsibility to provide appropriate ways for all voters to participate in primary elections.

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 support additional measurement and evaluation opportunities, as part of a merit-based system, to guide capital outlay spending. I have disclosed all capital outlay infrastructure investments (please visit my website), and believe that this important information should be publicly available.

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 should expand existing industries, including value added agriculture, energy, tourism, and international trade. Applying innovation in water technology and management, leading advances in energy management and hydrogen powered energy and applications, and focusing on education and infrastructure upgrades–including broadband connectivity–will support sustainable budgets and expanded economic opportunity.

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 oppose a moratorium on fracking and support developing our renewable energy resources, including critical energy transmission infrastructure. I will continue working with all stakeholders in collaborative approaches to reduce carbon emissions, protect our environment, and expand economic opportunity.

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

During this time of budgetary challenge, we must support basic government functions that enhance public safety, including education, health care, behavioral health and infrastructure. Additionally, we must prioritize first responders and law enforcement officers with sufficient funding, equipment, and training to carry out their difficult and important jobs.

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?

Yes. Building connections between residents and police is important for safety. Accountability and transparency from police departments is important. I am sensitive to, and supportive of, safety and privacy issues for law enforcement officers and those they encounter, including crime victims, and think that should be considered when releasing footage.

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?

Cooperation makes us more competitive. I passed the Produced Water Act with diverse stakeholders to safeguard fresh water, support water research, and create jobs. Now, more recycled produced water will be used in oil and gas operations, NMSU is leading international research, and new opportunities are ahead for New Mexicans.

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.

Over 10 years ago a State Police officer pulled me over for speeding. I was arrested because I had an outstanding bench warrant for failing to pay a traffic ticket. Deeply embarrassed, I paid the traffic ticket at the station and was released.

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