Q&A: Senate District 39 Candidate Elizabeth ‘Liz’ Stefanics

  • NAME: Elizabeth “Liz” Stefanics
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Retired
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: County of Santa Fe, between town of Cerrillos and town of Galisteo
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: University professor; executive director of nonprofits; Santa Fe County commissioner (2009 – 2016); New Mexico state senator District 39 (1993-96; 2016-20); State Risk Management director; deputy secretary of New Mexico Human Services Department; executive director of New Mexico Health Policy Commission.
  • EDUCATION: BS — Eastern Kentucky University; MS — University of Wisconsin — Madison; Ph.D. — University of Minnesota; risk manager for public entities (AIPCU IIA); Professional Mediation.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: senatorlizstefanics.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 balanced budget is always a challenge because when you have tight revenue there needs to be cuts to some of the state’s basic services. Or a new immediate source of revenue needs to be enacted which is hard during this economy. Diversification of energy sources needs to be continued — wind, solar, geothermal.

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 more teachers with skills for disabled, Spanish speaking, native American, gifted, and other special needs students. Continue to ensure small class sizes and appropriate pay for all personnel in the education system. During this time of the virus, broadband is needed in all parts of the state and technology provided to all teachers and students.

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

Examine and review all tax credits and exemptions. Eliminate or repeal some of the $1 billion dollars of GRT.

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

Support legalizing, establishing a tax structure, allowing non implementation of growing and sales by governmental entities, and scheduling implementation for a future date to allow development of rules and regulations.

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?

Review, update, and expand the emergency powers if necessary. A small bipartisan advisory legislative committee could be established to work with the executive office on this matter.

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

Support repealing.

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?

HB 5 passed in the special session established a NM Civil Rights Commission. I would wait to review the commission’s recommendations as to how the issue of undue force, not following training methods, and breaking with established procedures should be handled. Some level of revision to qualified immunity is needed.

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 voted for it in the past.

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 opening the state’s primary elections to voters not affiliated with the major political parties.

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 believe water and sewer is most important and then followed by other infrastructure — public safety, etc. I do disclose the projects that I fund in my own newsletter and have authorized the Legislative Council to provide that information to requestors — ie. NM FOG.

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?

Continue to diversify to renewable energy.

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 understand that oil and gas is important to the state’s economy and the various regions of the state. I do have concerns about the impact of the industry on the environment — the amount of water used for the drilling, the chemicals in the produced water, the leakages to the earth, air, and water, the working conditions, the health care, etc.

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

Continue to address poverty, literacy, and training programs to assist employment. More emphasis on drug and alcohol assistance 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?

Definitely support.

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 am open to the requests of our small business community to enable them to do business in a more productive manner — we do need to include agriculture, farming, ranching, and dairy in this economic consideration.

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?

NA

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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