Q&A: Republican lieutenant governor candidate Ant Thornton - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: Republican lieutenant governor candidate Ant Thornton

Ant Thornton

NAME: Ant Thornton

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Aerospace engineer, Sandia National Laboratories (retired)

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Sandia Park

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: The Lt. Governor is the president of the Senate. I served as an N.M. senate analyst for the 60-day 2021 legislative session. The Lt. Governor has the constitutional responsibility to serve as the state ombudsman. I am the only candidate who is a certified member of the International Ombudsman Association trained in alternative dispute resolution since 2016. My executive program management expertise leading multi-million dollar programs at Sandia National Laboratories and at Lockheed Martin allow me to be the “go to” person to lead and implement key initiatives tasked by the governor. In 2021, elected as 1st vice chair of Bernalillo County and led the effort to develop and deliver a six-year strategic plan for the Republican Party of Bernalillo County.

EDUCATION:

Ph.D., School of Aeronautics & Astronautics, Purdue University; M.S., engineering (aero/mech interdisciplinary), Stanford University; B.S., aerospace engineering sciences, University of Colorado

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: TheNextLG.com

1. 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 Legislature take to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?

Currently, New Mexico is a state that is hostile to business, causing entrepreneurs to flee our state. We should reform and eliminate the GRT tax code and reduce taxes on businesses to compete with our neighboring states (Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Texas).

2. During the last regular legislative session, there was an unsuccessful push to make it easier to keep certain defendants behind bars until trial. Should New Mexico law be changed to make it easier to hold individuals charged with violent offenses such as murder and first-degree child abuse behind bars until trial?

Yes, bail reform is much needed to deter repeat offenders. In addition, we need to return qualified immunity for law enforcement officers to do their job without concerns of being personally sued.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?

We must address recidivism. It is harmful and detrimental to the well-being of all New Mexicans if violent repeat offenders are allowed to evade the sentence they are due. Bail reform is an important step to make sure that violent criminals are not immediately released back into the population.

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

New Mexico’s GRT tax is an extreme disadvantage to businesses across New Mexico. Ask anyone who has to administer and pay these taxes and they will tell you it negatively impacts business. I support the repeal of New Mexico’s gross receipts tax.

5. New Mexico is currently the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, though lawmakers do get per diem payments and can qualify for a legislative pension. Do you support or oppose a salaried Legislature and, if so, how much should lawmakers be paid?

Oppose.

6. 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, especially Native Americans and those who don’t speak English as a first language?

The main thing that will improve the outcomes in our schools is to open schools to competition for students. The legislature should support a school choice bill whereby the money follows the student. Moreover, parents deserve the right to decide where their children will attend school.

7. What should be the priority as New Mexico seeks to strengthen its health care system? How should the state address a shortage of nurses and other health care workers?

Doctors are leaving the state because the cost of liability insurance in New Mexico makes practicing medicine in the state cost prohibitive. This is the result of recent legislation pushed by the Trial Lawyer’s Association, to make even more money in malpractice lawsuits.

8. 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 the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would withdraw more money from the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-12 education?

The permanent fund should not be used to fund miscellaneous programs. It was intended to be used as a significant resource for government funding and to last in perpetuity, to support K-12 schools and state universities. Increasing the withdrawal rate to fund pet projects will set a precedent that future legislators will utilize to empty the coffers.

9. In order to address climate change and air quality issues, do you support or oppose legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the state achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?

Oppose. The goal is irrational and unobtainable and will hurt the most vulnerable communities in New Mexico with rising energy costs. I support free-market research into alternative energy sources. However, currently, there are no available energy sources that can replace fossil fuels entirely and at scale.

10. New Mexico recently became the 17th state to regulate and tax recreational cannabis sales? What, if any, changes do you believe should be made to the existing law?

Aslieutenant governor, I represent the executive branch; our job is to execute the law. Personally, I would not have voted for the recreational cannabis law, but I do support the medicinal use of cannabis for some chronic issues.

11. 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?

Emergency powers should be authorized to the governor by the legislative branch and limited in scope (30 days) at which point the legislature could then reauthorize or remove the emergency powers as required by the conditions facing the public at that time.

12. 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?

Oppose. The parties should be able to choose their candidates that best represent their values and viewpoints. The general election will determine how well the parties performed in selecting their candidates.

13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

Absolutely. Representatives from every county should have a say in prioritizing capital outlay for the state.

14. Do you support or oppose authorizing an independent redistricting commission to perform the once-per-decade task of redrawing New Mexico’s political boundary lines?

Support.

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.

Over 25 years ago I was detained on a DUI charge. The case was dismissed by the presiding judge.

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