Q&A: House District 42 Candidate Kristina Ortez

  • NAME: Kristina Ortez
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Executive director of the Taos Land Trust
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Taos
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have been an advocate for our public lands, clean air and water for 17 years, working at the local, state and federal level. I draft and adhere to budgets, and manage a staff of 7-30 employees (some seasonal). I serve as a commissioner on the Vigil y Romo Acequia Association.
  • EDUCATION: B.A. from Harvard University; Masters of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Ortez4NM.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?

It is critical that the Legislature work with local communities to identify new sources of state revenue while reducing spending. We must diversify our economy by investing in good paying jobs in the clean energy economy and support our small business owners and entrepreneurship.

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?

As the mother of two young children in public schools, I am committed to ensuring equitable access to education for any and all who seek it. To do this, we must identify, train and mentor educators and support school districts with additional funding to meet the needs of their communities.

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

We must take a critical look at how we can reform the gross receipts tax code to support our business AND working families. Every year, more than a billion dollars in GRT is not collected – this is money that can be used to support families, education and invest in small businesses.

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

I support the legalization of recreational marijuana. This will put our state on a path for economic prosperity, increase tax revenue, and support our local agricultural economy. By regulating and taxing marijuana we can support community health, and fund education.

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?

Our governor made decisions swiftly and efficiently with the emergency powers vested in her office. The governor should continue to have this authority to keep New Mexicans safe in time of a public health crisis or natural disaster.

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

I stand with women and families. A majority of New Mexicans SUPPORT getting rid of this old law that would require every woman to ask for permission from strangers in a hospital before seeking an abortion. Abortion is health care and must be kept safe and legal

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 need to address this issue thoughtfully using an evidenced-based approach. Whatever legislation is introduced must protect our citizens and our law enforcement officers.

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?

We must invest in our children’s future, and this starts with early childhood. I support a constitutional amendment to withdraw additional funds from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to support our state’s working families and our youngest and most vulnerable New Mexicans.

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 open primaries. This allows for greater participation in the democratic 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. Capital outlay funding is taxpayer money. I support transparency at each stage in the capital outlay process.

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 face an unprecedented crisis with COVID-19 coupled with a sudden drop in oil revenues. We need to invest in the things our state does well: renewable energy, local agriculture, and outdoor recreation. We must invest in our small businesses and we must also increase corporate taxes.

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 support only if constitutionally enforceable and with a comprehensive plan that addresses economic concerns for communities dependent on fossil fuel extraction AND plans for diversification of our state’s economy. We can achieve 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2050 and we must pass legislation that helps us do this.

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

In collaboration with local law enforcement and government, the Legislature needs to actively tackle the systemic issues that contribute to crime rates. Investing in behavioral health, job training, drug treatment programs and public education will have a positive impact.

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 from body cameras. This results in better transparency and accountability this will improve law enforcement accountability and help rebuild the community trust. In many communities, there is a lack of trust and confidence in law enforcement.

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?

Investing in workforce housing, broadband, and affordable renewable energy and leveraging our great landscapes, will attract businesses that can also hire local talent. Our higher education institutions should be tapped to train our local workforce. We can do this while also protecting local economies and local traditions.

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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