Q&A: Senate District 26 Candidate Jacob Candelaria

  • NAME: Jacob R. Candelaria
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Attorney
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: State senator 2013-present; member, Senate Finance Committee
  • EDUCATION: AB, Princeton University (2009); JD, University of New Mexico School of Law (2016)
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.senatorcanderlaria.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?

A dramatic reduction in government spending would cause significant and immediate harm to our state economy, at a time when we can least afford to suck money out of the economy. I support all reasonable options to solve this crisis, including rolling back income tax breaks given to the richest among us when budget times were good.

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 better track how dollars are spent. Last session, I sponsored and passed legislation that dramatically increases the public’s access to school district spending information. If we are going to invest in education, we need to be sure the dollars are getting to the kids who need them.

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

I have consistently voted against any new GRT credits or deductions over the last eight years in order to stop passing the burden of GRT unfairly onto others. I will continue to do so and encourage my colleagues to join me in committing to broad based GRT reform.

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

Support. I also support additional measures to end the war on drugs, including defelonization of simple possession of all controlled substances. Convictions for simple possession of a controlled substance should also not count for the state’s habitual offender sentencing statute.

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 believe the governor has exercised her emergency powers thoughtfully and responsibly.

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

100% support. I do not, and will not, support any attempt to criminalize access to abortion. I respect New Mexico women to make their own decisions about their own health care.

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?

100% support.

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?

100% support. However, I believe that our current budget situation may require that, for at least the next few years, any additional distributions from the LGPF be used to avoid draconian cuts in the K-to-higher education system.

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 allowing independents to vote in either the Democratic or Republican party; without requiring that an independent first re-register with either party in order to 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?

A lot of capital outlay is already spent using a merit-based evaluation system. Those processes need to be strengthened and better coordinated. Legislator capital outlay ensures that all taxpayers have a voice in how their tax dollars are spent. I disclose my annual capital outlay appropriations.

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?

Legalize the adult recreational use of cannabis. Double down on our commitment – most recently represented by passage of the Energy Transition Act – to build our renewable energy infrastructure, from research to energy production and sale to the region.

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 end the racist war on drugs and direct those law enforcement and court resources to investigate and prosecute violent crime. We should no longer incarcerate, as felons, our family and community members who suffer from addiction.

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 the public’s right to access body-cam footage. I have not heard any good argument, to date, that would lead me to believe that any of these videos should ever be exempt from public disclosure.

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 can build our economy back better by investing in our strengths: our outdoor economy, research, our green energy transformation, tourism, the art and culture.

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?


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.


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