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2020 general election: N.M. House of Representatives, District 57

Jason C. Harper, Republican 

Jason C. Harper

Community of residence: Rio Rancho

Education: Ph.D. (University of New Mexico), Master of Science (Purdue University), Bachelor of Science (New Mexico Tech); all degrees in Chemical Engineering

Professional and political experience: State Representative, 2012-present; Research Engineer at Sandia National Labs, 2004-present

Have you ever been charged with a felony or DWI? No

How can people reach you if they have questions?

Personal Cell: 505-554-7970; Email: JasonHarperNM@gmail.com; Facebook: JasonHarperNM; Website: www.HarperNM.com

1. What restrictions or requirements should the state government be allowed to enact in public-health emergencies, and what should be the procedure for enacting them?

Our founders wisely created a system of checks and balances, but current NM law ignores this, giving all power to one person—the governor. Your representatives—the legislature—should co-create and ratify these actions.

And while we should certainly wear masks and physically distance to flatten the curve, we should not be applying health orders inequitably, allowing big box stores to open, but killing mom-and-pop stores. Some people can’t even support their families anymore! We can stay safe while also respecting our constitutional rights.

2. What, if any, changes should be made to funding and regulation for law enforcement in New Mexico?

First, I’m grateful for those who risk their lives to keep us safe. But our laws must also help to reduce crime.

“Catch and release” is for fish, not criminals! We must change bail guidelines to keep dangerous criminals from being released. And addressing root causes of crime, like drug addiction, requires meaningful help—not pseudo-help, like free needles.

Unfortunately, my legislation to create “Mental Health Community Engagement Teams,” which connects people with behavioral health services, has been repeatedly ignored, and not signed into law.

3. What, if anything, should be done about the issues of racism and racial equality in New Mexico?

One of the most troubling problems arising from racial inequality is poverty. We can tackle this issue with long-term solutions by focusing on education, since increased educational attainment is linked to higher income and wealth. By providing better opportunities for college and technical training, we can decrease these inequalities. That’s why I’ve worked tirelessly to protect the Lottery Scholarship, keeping it afloat without tax dollars, and ensuring all students have equal access to it.

4. What should be done to help New Mexico’s economy recover from the pandemic?

Let’s face it—New Mexico’s economy was a disaster even before the pandemic. Now it’s a dumpster-fire! But we can put out the fire and transform our economy with a bold step: we need to reform our tax code so that everyone wins, instead of the select few that government regulations favor.

Our current tax code is like Swiss cheese—too many holes! Let’s melt it down, close the loopholes, then broaden the base and lower the tax rate for everyone. Our kids shouldn’t have to leave NM to find a good job.

5. What are your views on universal health care?

There should be universal access for everyone to high-quality, affordable healthcare. However, a universal healthcare government monopoly would lead to the exact opposite and take away important choices from families. We need to reform our tax code to lure new businesses into NM—ones that bring high-paying jobs, so everyone can have high-quality, affordable health coverage and be self-reliant, not dependent on government.

6. What would be your top priorities in the upcoming legislative session?

Creating more jobs in Rio Rancho. For that, new businesses need another major road into our city. So, I’ve partnered with other legislators to secure $20 million for rights-of-way for Paseo del Volcan to connect with I-40. I’m now working to secure funding to pave PDV from Unser to Rainbow.

Fair school-funding. While Rio Rancho students’ performance is near the top, we’re near the bottom in state per-student funding. This inequity must stop—the current “equalization” formula is anything but.

I’ll also work to close a legal loophole that prevented a troubled boy, who brought a gun to school, from getting the help he needed.

 

Billie A. Helean, Democrat 

Billie A. Helean

Community of residence: Northern Meadows, Rio Rancho

Education: B.A. and Masters of Education – UNM

Professional and political experience: Candidate for HD 57 in 2018, current educator and President of Rio Rancho School Employees Union

Have you ever been charged with a felony or DWI? If yes, please explain.  I received a DUI in 1992 and accepted the consequences, and I am a strong advocate for anti-dwi programs including MADD.

How can people reach you if they have questions? Visit www.votehelean.com or email billie@votehelean.com

1. What restrictions or requirements should the state government be allowed to enact in public-health emergencies, and what should be the procedure for enacting them?

The Governor has the power under the Public Health Emergency Response Act to make the mandates that she has. Since the Legislature only works part time, I believe that the Governor does need the flexibility during emergencies such as Pandemics to do what is necessary to keep people safe. However, those mandates must be checked by other branches of government including the legislature, which will have a key role going forward.

2. What, if any, changes should be made to funding and regulation for law enforcement in New Mexico?

I support finding additional resources to help de-escalate situations that involve mental health issues where police are not necessarily trained. Most of our law enforcement do an amazing job, and deserve additional resources and trained agents to deal with tricky situations. We need to make sure that law enforcement is properly funded and that money is used wisely to ensure that officers use the least invasive methods possible to deescalate any confrontations.

3. What, if anything, should be done about the issues of racism and racial equality in New Mexico?

I believe the core of inequality is based in education. We as a State need to invest in Early Childhood Education programs so we can make sure that every child has the chance to succeed. This will not only help our underserved areas get on more equal footing, but will also provide an immediate solution to the Yazzie v. Martinez case. Additionally, we need to address inequality in our criminal justice system.

4. What should be done to help New Mexico’s economy recover from the pandemic?

The time is now to diversify our economy. While I appreciate the need for oil and gas revenue, we cannot continue to rely solely on it. We should take advantage of our natural resources by investing in wind and solar energy and safely legalizing and taxing recreational cannabis in order to bring in more revenue for our State and close the budget gap that we are likely to see in 2021.

5. What are your views on universal health care?

I believe that every New Mexican should have affordable and quality healthcare. We cannot function as a State if people go broke from surprise billing or because we aren’t protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions. Families need options for healthcare, but the cost of healthcare should never force someone into bankruptcy.

6. What would be your top priorities in the upcoming legislative session?

Investing in early childhood education and infrastructure — to include broadband; protecting individuals with pre-existing conditions in the event that the ACA is overturned; and, diversifying our economy in order to minimize any potential budget cuts due to the Oil and Gas downturn.



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