House District 38 Candidate Karen Canaday Whitlock

  • NAME: Karen Canaday Whitlock
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Social worker
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I am a social worker and an educator, and I can see what hard working families in New Mexico need.
  • EDUCATION: B.S. political science, American University; MSW Western New Mexico University

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?

New Mexico is too dependent on oil and gas. Suggestions for new revenue include, legalizing cannabis to bring in additional revenue to our state. In addition, New Mexico needs to start selling renewable energy. We also need to bring new companies to our state to improve and stabilize 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?

New Mexico should continue to implement evidence-based practices and support all children, including those students in rural areas and students of color, in order to bring us out of poverty and improve our 50th in education status.

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

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax code needs to be completely reformed, including eliminating many of the exemptions to this code.

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

As stated in question one, I am a strong supporter of legalizing marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales. New Mexico needs the revenue and we can use examples from other states to address the corresponding issues that come along with cannabis legalization.

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 believe that the emergency powers that are constitutionally given to the governor should remain as they are. We have had a much lower transmission rate than many other states and this has benefitted New Mexicans with less illness and fewer deaths.

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

I support repealing the 1969 law that criminalizes abortion.

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 support enacting a state law that would severely restrict the qualified immunity defense. It will be critical to ensure that the law is written to minimize police criminal action and include full investigations when an officer takes action that subjects them to the criminal code.

In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and childcare 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?

I strongly support increasing the percentage of funding from the Land Grant Permanent Fund. We are 50th in the nation in education. This is not acceptable. In order to get out of this hole we need to provide our children with the necessary resources to get out of poverty. It is our obligation as a state.

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?

If someone does not want to be associated with a political party that is fine. But when opening the primary it is too easy to sabotage the voting system and get a candidate elected that they believe would be easier to beat from another party.

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 a merit-based system for capital outlay funding and each legislator should be required to disclose the projects they funded. This allows important projects in rural areas to receive the same consideration as projects in urban areas.

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?

Our current dire economic situation is why we need to diversify our economy. We need to legalize cannabis, support small businesses, bring new business into the state, and make everyone pay their fair share of taxes. We do not have a budget problem; we have a revenue problem.

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?

New Mexico depends on oil and gas for over 30% of our annual revenue. We cannot afford to stop fracking. I support no new fracking permits, but I would not support a ban on fracking permits currently in existence. I support additional renewable energy mandates to address climate change.

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

There need to be huge criminal justice reforms in order to address crime and public safety. I support responsible changes: more police training in de-escalation, banning chokeholds, and embedding social workers in police departments. These changes, and other transformations will reduce crime and increase 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?

I support the public’s right to inspect footage taken by body cameras. However, under certain circumstances, the public’s right to know needs to be taken into consideration with individual and family rights to privacy. This needs to be well thought out between police and the community.

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?

Improving New Mexico’s economic competitiveness needs to begin with strengthening our schools. Businesses do not want to move to a state where education is 50th in the nation. In addition, having an educated workforce is another thing that attracts business to a state. These are economic development issues.

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?


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.


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