Q&A: House District 44 Candidate Gary J. Tripp

  • NAME: Gary J. Tripp
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Education consultant
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Rio Rancho
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 38 years in public education
  • EDUCATION: B.A. and M.A. education administration
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.garytripp.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?

Diversify our economy by promoting solar, wind energy, and other green initiatives and by legalizing recreational cannabis. Boost small businesses, which are the heart of our economy and especially harmed by the coronavirus, and incentivize new businesses to come to New Mexico.

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?

Ensure our curriculum meets the 21st century needs of pre-K through high school students. Continually interconnect skills in our classrooms, bolster soft skills, teach history accurately, and promote financial literacy. Lengthen the school year with more classroom instruction and less time on high-stakes testing. Provide universal high-speed internet access.

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

Every county is different in New Mexico. This complex, regressive tax falls most heavily on low- and middle-income families and small businesses. The governor’s bipartisan Tax Policy Advisory Committee will make recommendations for improving the tax code. I favor approaches that are fair and equitable, promote economic development and job growth, and provide sufficient state revenue.

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

Legalized recreational marijuana can help grow and diversify our economy. New Mexico has learned a lot from states where recreational marijuana is already legal. We can use this knowledge to develop a comprehensive law that protects our citizens, generates tax revenue for our state, and advances our economy.

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?

The challenges faced by New Mexico and our progress in combating the coronavirus attest to the importance of the governor’s having strong emergency powers. Federal and state government emergency responsibilities need to be clearly delineated and agreed to. Ambiguities or conflicts can be resolved by the judicial branch, as necessary.

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

I would focus on preventing unwanted pregnancies through such approaches as easily available contraception, fact-based sex education, and economic support for poor women. I would support repealing the 1969 state law that outlaws 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?

A new state Civil Rights Commission, which includes law enforcement representation, will provide recommendations to the Legislature concerning qualified immunity. I would consider the commission’s recommendations and would favor legislation that makes law enforcement accountable for use of excessive force while protecting those who act reasonably and in good faith.

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 would support this amendment. We must make quality early childhood education a primary improvement goal. As an educator, I know that early childhood education and services are essential to ensuring that our children have the foundational knowledge, social skills, and emotional resilience needed for successful development and learning.

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 opening New Mexico’s primary elections and would ask other legislators to join me in drafting legislation on this topic regardless of their party affiliation.

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 funding should be merit based and made available for all constituents to see through the CPMA portal. Offering a view-only site to allow all citizens to see what projects were sponsored by their state legislators would provide transparency and demonstrate accountability.

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?

As stated in earlier answers, New Mexico needs to diversify its economy with more clean energy investments and legalized recreational cannabis. New Mexico needs to work with its counties to provide incentives to attract businesses that provide skilled jobs throughout the state.

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 moving away from fracking in areas of the state where fracking currently occurs. I support a ban on fracking in the central part of the state where 50% of our drinking water comes from the Rio Grande.

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

Ensure sufficient law enforcement resources as well as adequate resources for intervention and treatment. Promote community-based policing. Promote joint programs in all schools allowing police officers, students, and staff to work together for the safety and well-being of our communities.

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 cameras as a protection and means of accountability for police officers and for our citizens.

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?

Invest in local science, technology, research, and STEM education. Support small businesses through low-interest loans and grants. Implement more equitable tax policies including a fair self-employment tax rate and elimination of counterproductive tax loopholes. Invest in infrastructure, transportation, and renewable energy projects. Strengthen partnerships with space commerce companies

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?

I have never owned my own business.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

I have never been involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

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.

I have never been involved in a misdemeanor or a felony charge in New Mexico or any other state.

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