Q&A: Senate District 20 Candidate John C. Morton

  • NAME: John C. Morton
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Retired U.S. Air Force and retired federal employee
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: John C. Morton … has made Albuquerque his home for over 36 years. He has lived in District 20 for over 20 years… John served in the USAFR for over 20 years, and rose to the rank of major. During the majority of his military career, John served as an intelligence officer… In addition, John served in support of Counter Drug Operations with several federal law enforcement agencies fighting the illegal drug threat in our communities. … After his Air Force career, John worked … with the U.S. Department of Energy adjudicating security clearances. Since retiring in 2018, he has been involved with the Boy Scouts of America as a unit commissioner and with the Republican Party…
  • EDUCATION: Bachelor of general studies in May 1981 from the University of Idaho
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: mortonfornm.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?

With the recent fall in oil prices New Mexico has lost a considerable amount of revenue for the state budget. The Legislature and governor have a duty to balance the budget by cutting spending. There needs to be a state rainy-day fund because of falling oil prices, COVID-19 and other disasters.

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

I will propose legislation to hold school districts accountable for failed results, and offer vocational education to the level of apprenticeship certification for all New Mexico high school students. This will help make students job ready and help to reduce dropout rates. Parents and students also deserve school choice.

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

When comparing New Mexico with other states within our region, New Mexico has a burdensome tax code. The gross receipts tax should be reduced or eliminated by replacing it with a state sales tax.

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

I oppose legalization. Marijuana is a cause of concern due to the risk of respiratory issues. Over 50% of state workers are employed with the federal government and marijuana is illegal under federal law. Revenue that might be generated will end up being spent on increased medical and drug treatment costs.

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 don’t believe any governor should have the extensive emergency powers the governor currently holds. This governor has abused these powers, without oversight from the legislative branch. I believe changes need to be made to ensure cooperation with other branches and oversight of how these powers are implemented.

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

I’m opposed to repealing the 1969 New Mexico State law. Abortions should be rare and only in the most extreme cases such as the life of the mother, incest and rape. I’m opposed to late-term and after-birth abortions. Abortion cheapens human life and lowers our morals as a society.

Do You support or oppose enacting a new state law that would allow officers and other public officials to be sued individually by abolishing the defense of qualified immunity?

I do not. Police officers need responsible safeguards from frivolous and repeated lawsuits that would make doing their jobs impossible. At the same time, we should ensure that those law enforcement officers who abuse their policing authority face swift punishment and/or removal from their positions.

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 oppose a constitutional amendment. The permanent fund is primarily funded by the oil and gas industry which is used for education in New Mexico. Taking more money from the fund will only result in its depletion and will result in its loss to future generations of New Mexicans.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary systems? Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I oppose the mass mailing of ballots to voters who have not requested them. “Vote by Mail,” opens the door to voter fraud without regard to the accuracy of the voter rolls. I oppose open primaries, due to many unintended consequences.

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?

1) Yes, I would support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding. 2) Yes, I believe in transparent government, every legislator should be required to disclose which projects he or she 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?

We need to make New Mexico a business-friendly state by eliminating burdensome regulations, wasteful spending, and taxes on social security benefits. These actions will incentivize corporations to do business in our state and encourage individuals to stay and/or relocate to New Mexico.

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?

1) No. 2) No, not at the expense of economic prosperity and jobs in New Mexico. The elimination of fracking would have no significant effect on climate change because the vast majority of man caused pollution is coming from Asia and the less advanced nations of the world.

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

I will propose stricter penalties for violent offenders and to stop the revolving door of “catch and release.” I will enforce current state laws and regulations to end sanctuary/immigration friendly cities and counties and hold those responsible for sheltering illegal immigrants who commit violent crimes.

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 want to ensure that such footage isn’t released during the pretrial period in a way that taints the jury pool or, in the absence of other evidence, gives the public a false view of the incidents the video recorded.

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 make New Mexico more business friendly. Lowering the corporate tax rate would be an immediate boost for our state’s economic standing with our neighbors. A review of burdensome regulations would also help.

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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