Q&A: House District 70 Candidate Ambrose M. Castellano

  • NAME: Ambrose M. Castellano
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: General contractor, and ranching
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: (No response)
  • EDUCATION: High School Diploma

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?

It is vitally important that we diversify our economy. Yes, oil and gas are the heart and soul of many communities in this state. However, putting all our eggs in one basket is irresponsible and bad stewardship of the public trust.

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?

A child’s success and wellbeing should not be dependent on his or her zip code. We need to use all the state resources and assets at our disposal to invest in the future ofthis state. That means paying teachers more, reducing class sizes, parent participation in school administration. We also need a hear from students directly.

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

I will spend time learning about our different tax codes. I have no response at this time.

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

I support it if laws are in place that will regulate the use, just like we do with alcohol . recommend support for the legalization and ties the sales tax question to how to help fund schools. Also include language that ties the legalization of marijuana to reforming the criminal justice system.

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 would recommend saying that the emergency powers are adequate, and they don’t need to be expanded on. The Governor … she has used her powers with poise and respect with the Constitution of the state. (Existing powers) have worked to make New Mexico the region leader in reducing COVID spread.

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

I recommend supporting in repealing the law. New Mexico must acknowledge that Roe v. Wade was decided over a half-century ago. If New Mexicans want to change the abortion laws at that time I am open to discussion, but I am a devoted Catholic.

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?

This is an issue for municipalities to decide for their own police departments. New Mexicans have the right to feel safe in their homes and neighborhoods. It is the duty of the police to ensure the safety of citizens.

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?

Yes. The Land Grand Permanent Fund is the state’s “rainy day” fund. Well, guess what? It’s raining right now, it’s pouring, and if we don’t act with haste and due diligence then our children will drown as a result.

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?

Voters should not be punished or disenfranchised because they are unhappy with the two-party system. Many states have adopted a semi-closed primary system that allows for independents and decline to states participate in one of the major party’s primary.

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?

Yes, too many state tax dollars are being wasted on projects with little to no return on investment from the community they were intended to support. Often legislators use the current capital outlay to spend state resources on frivolous endeavors that often get scrapped and abandoned.

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?

The first step in to invest in our children, educate future entrepreneurs, and encourage them to stay in New Mexico to build their business and their families. We need to build for an economy for the 21st Century. That means bring green new jobs in wind and solar here in our windy desert 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?

Yes, there are far too many unanswered questions about the safety and environmental impact of hydraulic fracking. We need the moratorium as a pause to study the potential effects of this extraction technology.

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

Absolutely. Year after year, violent crime continues to make the headlines and scare families watching the evening news. We must tackle the fundamental root of

crime – lack of opportunities and broken communities. We need legislation that calls for smart community policing. We must balance the criminal justice system with punishment, mercy, and rehabilitation.

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?

Support. The public has the right to full transparency. Only if the footage is too graphic for public media consumption it should be censored. However, the full uncensored video must be released to oversight bodies, journalists, and the courts.

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?

We need to incentivize small business growth especially from our young entrepreneurs and family businesses. We need to look at our tax code and make a serious effort to cut loopholes that only benefit a few. Once those programs are cut we need to offer tax credits and rebates to a local business that hires local talent.

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?

Yes, we have come to compliance with this issue.

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.

Yes I was arrested for fighting in public.

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