Q&A: Senate District 20 Candidate Martin Hickey
- NAME: Martin Hickey
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Chairman of the Board, True Health New Mexico, Retired Physician
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Founding CEO, True Health New Mexico, among others; associate professor of medicine, medical director of the faculty practice; internist and director of rural health, Albuquerque Veterans Administration; internist, medical director, diabetes coordinator, Indian Health Services, Navajo Nation, member of several public health and health care boards
- EDUCATION: Masters of Science in preventive and administrative medicine, University of Wisconsin, primary care internal medicine residency, University of Rochester, M.D., Rush Medical College, B.A., Social and Behavioral Health, Johns Hopkins University
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: MartinforSD20.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 must diversify the state’s revenue by bringing more fairness to the tax code and doubling down on economic development and investment that takes advantage of New Mexico’s strengths: outdoor recreation, wind and solar power, retirement, tech entrepreneurialism, hemp and cannabis.
What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide sufficient education to all students?
Early education, K-12, and higher education must be fully funded. Teachers should be compensated at the national average of $60,000, and they should have access to aggressive, proactive training. Wrap around and case management practices in the school system can reduce drop-out rates, lower crime and improve health outcomes.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
It’s a patchwork with inconsistent judicial interpretation and application. We should seek to reduce the myriad exemptions that benefit special interests or industries so that the tax base broadened, the code more equitable to small business, and rates are overall are lower.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I support legalization, taxation, and thoughtful regulation. As a physician, I know marijuana legalization has lead to 1/3 drop in opioid overdoses in other states (a significant issue in our state). And, legalization will free our court system to deal with violent crimes.
Do you believe changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other times of crisis? If so, do you believe such powers should be expanded or reduced, and in what specific ways?
COVID was unprecedented, and I support freeing up resources and emergency funding during crises. However, I strongly believe in checks and balances in government. The Legislature should have the power to review and override with a supermajority vote how money is spent.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
Support. While we all may have differing or complex personal opinions on this issue, I believe we can all agree that these highly personal healthcare decisions should be made between a woman, her doctor and her family without government interference.
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?
While I believe “qualified immunity” is a federal regulation, I do believe citizens should be able to sue if their civil rights have been violated. As a physician, I was required to gain a license, any complaints would be tracked, and insurance was required in cases of malpractice. I support a similar model for law enforcement officers.
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. As in health care, study after study shows that investing in early childhood is critical for long-term success. Eighty percent of 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds should be enrolled in high-quality, full-day Pre-K. Health costs will decrease, education and incomes will increase. The spiral will go up instead of down.
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?
Support. As party affiliation decreases, more and more voters are disenfranchised from the primary election process.
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?
Support. A merit-based system for capital outlay and full disclosure of projects funded will use state dollars most efficiently toward real community needs.
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 bring more fairness to the current tax code, which will increase revenue to the state budget. We should also stimulate new industries and businesses that New Mexico is ideal for, which will result in better-paying jobs and substantially attract and generate entrepreneurial start-ups.
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?
We must reverse climate disruption. But a fracking moratorium would cause a billion-dollar blow to public schools and enormous job loss. A better approach is the Energy Transition Act, which achieves nation-leading renewable energy goals while providing economic transition funding to communities dependent on fossil fuels.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We must attack the root causes: poverty, lack of behavioral health and substance abuse support, poor access to health care, and limited education. Addressing these will help reduce low-level and nonviolent criminal activity. For repeat offenders and violent criminals, we need to look at serious, more punitive measures.
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 transparency and allowing citizen oversight. However, there must be due diligence to protect victim identities and ongoing police investigations.
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 believe that skills-based education is the key to attracting businesses to New Mexico. We have significant opportunities to greenshore, but year after year high paying jobs go unfilled in New Mexico due to a paucity of skills. We need to increase skills, and businesses will follow.
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.