Q&A: House District 52 Candidate Doreen Gallegos

  • NAME: Doreen Gallegos
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Nonprofit executive director
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have represented District 52 in the New Mexico House of Representatives since 2013 and am proud to serve southern New Mexico as House Majority Whip. I also serve as the executive director of Mesilla Valley CASA, helping children in foster care. I am a sixth generation New Mexican with family roots are in Berino, Anthony, and Las Alturas.
  • EDUCATION: I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees in social work from New Mexico State 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?

Our state constitution mandates a balanced budget and 91% of the budget is spent on four items: public education, higher education, health and human services and public safety. We must provide assistance to our small businesses and create new revenue from tourism and renewable energy.

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?

We need to fully fund public education and early childhood programs like Pre-K and home visitation. In the 2020 Legislative session, I sponsored and passed a nation-leading early childhood fund endowment, with an initial $300 million investment. This fund will provide millions of dollars for early childhood programs in perpetuity.

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

I support closing existing loopholes. As a member of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, I am committed to examining all viable proposals that fairly tax New Mexicans.

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

As a mother of a 16-year-old, I want to ensure that there is a strong educational component within the legislation. I could strongly support a bill with that provision.

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 emergency powers laws need to be reviewed. Second guessing is not a worthwhile exercise. We need to ensure that our laws are current and can work well in an emergency.

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

Support.

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?

Police officers risk their lives every day. When there are cases of illegal activity, they must be held accountable, like all of us. We cannot create a situation where police are nervous to perform their duties, either. I support a review of qualified immunity with all stakeholders, including police, at the table.

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?

I have supported this legislation in the past and will continue to do so.

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 creating primaries for other political parties, so like-minded voters who choose a party can select the candidate of their choice.

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 think a merit-based system, while maybe a good idea, would be difficult to make fair. My small communities that I represent like Anthony, Berino and Vado might not ever receive any capital dollars. I disclose my capital outlay allocation for anyone to see in the interest of full transparency.

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?

Renewable energy like wind, solar, and battery storage is key. We can fuel our energy needs but export this energy to surrounding states. Cannabis provides an opportunity as well. For ranchers, wind and cannabis can create opportunities for profitable ventures. We also need to boost our tourism programs post-COVID.

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 want to do everything I can to protect our environment, but we cannot stop fracking without a plan to help families and businesses who work in that industry and replace its revenue. I supported the Energy Transition Act, which sets aggressive targets for wind and solar energy.

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

The best crime program is great public schools and better-paying jobs. Much of the crime I see in Las Cruces has its roots in drug and alcohol abuse and mental health. We are not going to incarcerate our way out of that. We need more addiction and mental health facilities.

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 greater transparency to discourage abuse. Any withholding from the public should be to protect the victim.

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 needs to export more, particularly our wind and solar power. We also need to find ways for our small businesses to compete. Post-COVID, we need to rebuild our tourism efforts which will assist restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues.

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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