Q&A: House District 59 Candidate Kimble Lee Kearns
- NAME: Kimble Lee Kearns
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Qualifying broker and owner of Lincoln County Realty, and retired high school math and science teacher
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Capitan
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Trustee (councilor) and mayor pro tem, Village of Capitan
- EDUCATION: Master of Arts degree from New Mexico State University, and Bachelor of Science from University of New Mexico
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: KimbleLeeKearns.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?
Capital outlay needs to be limited to the most immediate infrastructure needs until the economy improves. We should rebuild the economy better than before by promoting tourism and small businesses, including those that create clean energy jobs, and by raising the minimum wage; providing more income tax revenue.
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?
Resist pressure from Republicans to cut spending on education. New Mexico needs to continue investing in children so they are ready to compete for high paying jobs. Math, science, and computers should be essential to their curriculum. Improving education is the best investment in our economy, jobs, and state revenues.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Gross receipts taxes create an unfair burden on working families. Like groceries, other items and services essential to family health and well-being should not be taxed. The quality of life for all New Mexicans will be lifted when we seek to be a kinder, gentler society concerned with the well-being of those families at risk.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
As an added tax revenue source, I support legalizing recreational marijuana use. Colorado raised $302 million by taxing sales in 2019. California legalization provides warning of problems New Mexico can avoid, for example continuing illegal sales. It is important, too, that the well-being of minors is protected by law.
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 governor’s emergency power orders related to COVID-19 saved lives and kept our infection rates low. One need only compare our rates with Texas and Arizona, where orders were less restrictive, to know that is true. Our lower infection rate will allow our economy to recover sooner. Keep emergency powers unchanged.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
Roe V Wade decision of 1972 provides a good balance between a woman’s right to control her body and the rights of the unborn. For 49 years the New Mexico law that outlaws abortion has been considered unconstitutional and it should be repealed because if Roe V Wade is overturned, women’s rights will not be protected.
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?
My wife and I, as real estate brokers, follow the golden rule; treat people the way you want to be treated. In 20 years of public service we have made many friends and never been sued. We could be sued as we are liable for how we treat people. Public servants, police included, should be liable for how they treat people.
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 am a retired high school math/science teacher. I know early childhood programs work by preparing young children to learn, and involving young parents in their child’s education. The parent-teacher team grows through the school years, benefiting children and families. This important program must be funded.
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?
Voting day should be a holiday so working families have time off to vote, and they should be able to register and vote on the same day. These two changes would make it easier for busy working families to exercise their democratic right to vote. I do not support allowing independents to vote in party 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?
As a city councilor and mayor pro tem, I have seen legislators fund capital outlay for one community while ignoring requests from another based on politics; not the needs of citizens. I support a funding system that serves citizens according to need, and includes mandatory disclosure of which projects a legislator funds.
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?
Promote CLEAN ENERGY: it creates good paying jobs. Promote TOURISM with internet ads, which are inexpensive: New Mexico has much to offer vacationing families and the money they spend is from outside our state; the best kind. Promote SMALL BUSINESSES: offer low-interest loans to families with a good business plan.
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?
We must stop climate change that threatens the health and well-being of our families. The Energy Transition Act, which I support and my opponent voted against, effectively closes coal burning electric plants, which add to climate change, and paves the way for clean, renewable energy, which saves the climate and creates good jobs.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
Most people will choose a productive life over a life of crime if they are provided opportunities for success. State-funded job training and opioid/alcohol treatment is how good societies lift unfortunates up, deter crime, and improve public safety. Stiff penalties for habitual, unrepentant offenders are also necessary.
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?
Public trials are a cornerstone of democracy, and video evidence should not be withheld from the public. Pre-trial public viewing of video promotes transparency, which is also crucial to democracy. If there is misconduct, the people have a right to know. Editing of videos may be necessary to protect the innocent.
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 schools rank near the bottom of the 50 states. Businesses considering moving here are discouraged by our ineffective schools. CEOs will not move their families to a state where their children cannot receive good education and managers doubt they can find an adequately educated workforce. Improving our schools will attract businesses.
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.