Q&A: House District 45 Candidate Linda Michelle Serrato
- NAME: Linda Michelle Serrato
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Business owner
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Santa Fe
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: More than a decade of legislative, advocacy, political, and nonprofit experience
- EDUCATION: Stanford University with a bachelor’s in public policy
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: lindafornm.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?
Having worked on Capitol Hill for New Mexicans during the Great Recession recovery, I know successful states invested resources into getting federal grants. Also, we need to revise our budget to diversify our revenue beyond oil, increase taxes on out-of-state property owners, and end recent tax cuts for top earners.
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?
I’m proud to be endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and believe our diverse communities require innovative, local solutions. Schools need more support staff and research into flexible education models. We should compensate our teachers with competitive packages and incentivize our local teachers to continue professional development.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico has a beautiful and rich small business culture. To maintain it, we must tax internet sales at the same rate as local businesses pay. The GRT code is designed to punish brick-and-mortar businesses keeping New Mexico unique. We need to expand our tax base and support local businesses.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I support legalizing recreational marijuana for individuals over 21 years old, not marketed to children, with regular monitoring to prevent widespread problematic addition and other restrictions included in this year’s Senate bill. This would help balance our budget like Colorado which had a $302 million tax bump last year.
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?
2020 has revealed that New Mexico needs a year-round legislature to work closely with the governor, protect our communities, and deliver services to families. A year-round legislature is fundamental to adapting to the constantly changing emergencies of the 21st century, such as the COVID-19 pandemic or this year’s oil bust.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
We must repeal this law infringing on private decisions between women and their doctors. I’m proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico because as a mother, I believe my daughter and all women deserve to make the best decisions for our health without politicians exploiting the issue.
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 must eliminate qualified immunity and ban chokeholds and other dangerous tactics that have resulted in the deaths of New Mexicans. Our law enforcement is accountable to our community and police officers who abuse the community’s trust, betray their duty, and violate the law must be held responsible.
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?
Our children deserve a chance to succeed. We need to prioritize support systems for young families, investments in early education, and efforts to identify issues early on. To that end, I would support increasing the disbursement percentage.
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?
More than ever we must engage as many voters as possible, decrease cynical outlooks on our democracy, and remove any obstacles to voting. This issue deserves to come before New Mexicans for a vote.
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 believe all legislators should disclose their capital outlay requests and, if elected, I would make my capital outlay requests public. I believe a merit-based evaluation should be a part of the decision-making process, but policymaking is an imperfect science. We should allow for the unpredictable.
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 can attract new businesses to New Mexico with improved educational systems and expanded broadband. We can tax high earners and out-of-state property owners their fair share and tax recreational marijuana (ensuring protections are in place). I refuse fossil fuel contributions because New Mexicans deserve a smart budget without bias.
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?
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need more preventative efforts. Addressing the working poor crisis, increasing short term housing for homeless populations, and increasing early education programs will help our families identify and address issues early. Our police officers deserve the tools they need to protect and increase trust among our community.
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?
The footage should only be withheld in cases where minors are involved, the footage jeopardizes an ongoing investigation, or the lapel footage could endanger those filmed. Transparency will help increase trust between our communities and the police who serve them.
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?
New Mexico’s tourism industry is strong because our state has much to offer those visiting. Now we must do more to invest in our infrastructure to encourage job creators to stay. By mirroring efforts of states that recovered from the last recession quickly, we can not only attract new businesses but foster home-grown innovation.
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.