Q&A: House District 42 Candidate Linda Calhoun
- NAME: Linda Calhoun
- POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
- OCCUPATION: Real Estate Broker and small retail gift shop owner
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Red River
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 2006-present mayor of Red River, vice-chair New Mexico Mayor’s Caucus, 2014-2015 New Mexico Municipal League president, business owner, served on various local and state boards and committees including Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham’s transition team and the Governor’s Mayors Economic Recovery Taskforce.
- EDUCATION: 1978 Graduate with B.S. in nursing from WTAMU, completed Municipal Official Leadership Institute as certified municipal official, real estate broker
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: lindacalhoun.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 Legislature is going to be forced to look at all outstanding projects and expenses and evaluate the validity of each moving forward. Every state department needs to be closely examined for areas that can be adjusted, like reducing unfilled vacant positions and budget items that will not affect productivity.
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?
The state needs to continue looking at ways to accommodate those students with greater needs. We need to make sure that the money allocated for early childhood education is available for all districts. We need to support our teachers and give them the resources they need.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico tax code is extremely complex. Tax reform has been on the table for many years. We need to look at ways to broaden the base and lower the rate.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Recreational marijuana is a potential economic benefit to our state and with the current economic crisis, we need to explore all options to boost our state and local economies. I will support giving each municipality the option to decide if they want to allow the sale of recreational marijuana within their local jurisdiction.
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 think it is appropriate for the governor to have immediate, limited emergency powers during a pandemic or crisis. I think it is especially important to bring in the Legislature after the initial period expires. Checks and balances should exist, even during a crisis.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
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?
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 think in the current volatile economic situation, we need to be incredibly careful about withdrawing additional funding from the Land Grant Permanent 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?
I support open primaries.
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?
Capital outlay is very important for our counties and municipalities and I think they need to be involved with their local Legislators to determine the priorities of those projects. I think transparency in government is always appropriate.
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?
With the current pandemic, we need to focus on supporting existing businesses and ensuring they have the resources to survive during this crisis. Looking to the future, renewable energy has an important role. We need to focus on our tourism industry and outdoor recreation opportunities. By providing fast, reliable internet, we can attract innovative-driven 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. The state shouldn’t impose additional mandates that will hurt New Mexico businesses during this economic crisis.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need to look at underlying causes including joblessness, housing issues, widespread drug and alcohol use, a seriously challenged education system, poverty and mental and behavioral health issues. I think it is important to ensure law enforcement has the training and resources needed to do their 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?
Police video should be withheld in cases that involve minors, victims of abuse, or when it might jeopardize an investigation.
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?
Reduce regulations that are burdensome to small business owners. Improve our state infrastructure from broadband to roads. Increase the availability of a skilled workforce.
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.