Q&A: Senate District 15 Candidate Sandra ‘Sandy’ B. Rausch

  • NAME: Sandra “Sandy” B. Rausch
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Heath information technology consultant (retired); registered nurse
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have spent my entire career working in public service. As a registered nurse, U.S. Air Force veteran, and past federal service professional, I have extensive leadership experience in civilian, military, and federal sectors. I worked for John McCain’s presidential campaign. I am currently president of my local Rotary club.
  • EDUCATION: B.S. nursing; master’s, business management
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: sandyrauschnmsenate.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?

New Mexico will face tough choices because of the current budget situation. We will have to make cuts and adjustments to how things are done while meeting the constitutional obligation to education. The Legislature needs a balanced approach with consideration of established checks and balances to develop a viable budget.

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?

New Mexico is ranked 17th in the country for educational funding but consistently ranks near the bottom in most national rankings. Fundamental changes need to be made to the education system with funds going directly into the classrooms. Our focus should be investing more money in teachers rather than administrators.

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

There needs to be a complete overhaul of the current dysfunctional New Mexico tax system. The current tax system adversely affects small businesses. Tax pyramiding through the use of GRT is unfair and inherently flawed. We need to move toward an economically neutral tax system.

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

Oppose.

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?

A system of checks and balances is intended to make sure that no branch of state government be allowed to exceed its bounds and to guard against fraud. Emergency powers should not be expanded. I support a process for the bipartisan review of emergency decisions by the governor.

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

Oppose.

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?

I oppose enacting a new state law that would allow police officers and other public officials to be sued individually while working in an official capacity by abolishing the defense of qualified immunity. We will lose police officers, which will adversely affect public safety in our communities.

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?

Oppose. Recent studies have not shown a substantial improvement in third graders’ proficiency of math and English. We need more accountability in our education system before we spend more money for continued poor results.

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 oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who are not affiliated with either major political party.

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 would not support a merit-based evaluation system as each district’s needs are unique for the types of projects that merit funding. There should be a system of transparency for disclosure of what district projects are funded.

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?

New Mexico is a beautiful state with a lot to offer. We must first address the current crime, education, and economy issues in New Mexico. This will lead to more businesses being attracted to locating here.

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 do not support a moratorium on fracking while I do support growing state renewable energy resources. New Mexico should not be subsidizing these industries, at the expense of the current oil and gas industry.

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

I support changes to the laws to actually to keep the most violent offenders behind bars and eliminate the prevalent “catch-and-release” system. I also support funding police departments for better training, recruitment, and community policing programs.

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 law enforcement officers wearing lapel cameras. It provides oversight and protection against false accusations. There may be a case where the district attorney needs to withhold the video footage due to its sensitive nature. Legal oversight and training are needed to ensure the integrity of the video recordings.

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?

I support a thorough review of license and regulations as too many constraints on businesses could reduce New Mexico’s economic competitiveness.

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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