Q&A: Senate District 23 Candidate Harold Pope Jr.

  • NAME: Harold Pope Jr.
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Retired Air Force Officer
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: U.S. Air Force Officer serving 20+ years as a Dental Technician, Project/Program Manager, Chemist, and Foreign Military Sales Advisor. May 1993 –May 1997 and May 2002 – June 2018Appointed as Facilities Transition Advisor for the Municipal Development Department by Mayor Timothy Keller. February 2019 – June 2019

    Chairman of the Board, March of Dimes, January 2018 – December 2019

    Board Member, Community Policing Council, City of Albuquerque, January 2018 – January 2019 and July 2019 – Present

  • EDUCATION: B.S. biochemistry (UNM, M.A. operational leadership (Air University, Maxwell AFB), M.S. pharmacy (pharmaceutical chemistry concentration) (University of Florida)
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: popefornm.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?

We immediately have to work with the federal delegation to get relief, but looking ahead we must make smart targeted investments in order to diversify our economy by investing in small businesses and startups in order to increase revenue and create new sustainable jobs.

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?

The Legislature must come up with a comprehensive plan that invests in the public education system to address the inequities facing low-income families, students with disabilities, English language learners, and Native American students. New Mexico students have a constitutional right to an education that makes them college and career ready.

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

We must look at different tax reform measures to address how non-competitive this tax is making New Mexico compared to other states. We must find a replacement that is more equitable and still provides revenue for the state.

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

Support. The time is now to legalize and properly tax recreational marijuana. At the same time, we must protect minors, provide funding for drug counseling and programs, and prioritize licensing to NM residents. This is one way to diversify our economy and bring needed revenue into the State.

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?

No. I believe that the governor does hold emergency powers in a pandemic such as this one. Going forward, I believe strongly in the Legislature’s role to consider and create new laws.

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

Support. New Mexicans have been clear in their respect for a woman’s personal decision and abortion and for keeping the decision between a woman and her health care provider, without the government interfering.

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?

Support. While this is typically a federal issue, I do believe in accountability at all levels. The citizens of New Mexico should not have to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in tax payer money in settlements for the actions made by bad actors.

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?

Support. Early Childhood Education is a game-changer and the mechanism for how we make improvements in child well-being and boosting our economy. It not only prepares our children for their futures, but supports families.

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?

We need legislation that would provide safe voter access and the ability to automatically receive an absentee ballot during a public health or state of emergency order. I support opening up primary elections to non-party affiliated voters as those voters pay taxes to fund the primary elections.

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. We need a system that will not be influenced by special interests but a system that analyzes the states priorities and authorizes spending on these projects. Yes. We should have full transparency on the projects being sponsored and funded by each legislator.

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?

We must move to renewable energy sources as well as the manufacturing of components and invest in small businesses, entrepreneurship, and the leveraging of tech transfer from our labs and universities. Industries like aerospace/aviation, bioscience, cybersecurity, advanced manufacturing, value-added food processing, and sustainable industries must be included.

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 support not giving new permits until we have enough information regarding the chemicals being used in the process or the long-term environmental impacts. At the same time, the current price of oil makes the process not profitable.

Yes. We should be making long-term investments in alternative energy.

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

We must provide the resources and take a multifaceted approach that encompasses community and neighborhood policing, drug treatment and counseling, behavioral health, neighborhood watches, justice system reform, and restorative justice practices to hold offenders accountable, decrease recidivism, and decrease the school-to-prison pipeline.

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 video should never be withheld from the public but time should be allowed to address the privacy and safety concerns of individuals who may have been recorded unintentionally as well as ensuring the investigation will not be jeopardized.

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 must always be willing to evaluate our laws and regulations in order to evaluate those that are archaic, or not relevant anymore. At the same time, we must ensure that we always keep the safety, well-being, and the health of our citizens first and foremost.

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.

Yes. Before joining the military at age 18, I was charged with conspiracy menacing but the charges were dropped.

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