Q&A: House District 5 Democratic candidate D. Wonda Johnson - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 5 Democratic candidate D. Wonda Johnson

NAME: D. Wonda Johnson

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Patient experience and cultural liaison

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Gallup

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Community development and grants management

EDUCATION: B.A.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: In progress

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?

I would be interested in a just transition to clean energy and creating jobs. I am focused on exploring solutions because of how complicated it is to transition away from uranium mining and other industries like oil and natural gas that generate revenue for state programs.

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, keeping the most violent criminals off our streets will assist in keeping our communities safe from the rise in crime seen throughout New Mexico.

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

The legislature took significant steps to address violent crime in the 2022 legislative session. As these laws are being implemented, we are going to need legislators who’ve been at the table making these laws to make sure they are working as intended.

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

As a Legislature this session, we passed the House tax plan that will reduce the gross receipts tax by 0.25% to alleviate the tax burden on New Mexico’s small and local businesses.

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?

While it’s not the largest priority in my district, I believe that a legislative salary would help break down the barriers of the different socioeconomic backgrounds that could serve in the Legislature.

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?

We made big investments in early childhood education so that our children are equipped for success before they enter K-12 and passed bills to ensure equity for our Native American students.

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?

In the 2022 legislative session, we passed HB2, which fully funds Medicaid and eliminates the long waitlist for people with developmental disabilities to receive in-home care. Monitoring these funds as they are implemented will allow us to decide on further action.

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?

I support the constitutional amendment. Gaps in access and quality of early childhood services, and K-12 education need to be closed and this constitutional amendment will help level the playing field for students to succeed in our schools.

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?

Climate change and air quality issues are deeply important to the people of my district. I do support legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions and require the state to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. However, any actions we take must consider and account for the just transition of jobs that will be impacted by such actions.

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?

Marijuana legalization presents disproportionately more challenges to a district like mine. With an already abundant problem of people driving while intoxicated, legalized marijuana could exacerbate the issue. Additional guardrails are needed to address potency, availability and public health education around the possible adverse effects of legalized marijuana throughout the state.

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?

It is my view that New Mexico has struck a healthy balance of the limits to a governor’s emergency powers.

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?

I support opening the primary elections to voters who aren’t registered with either major party. Preventing them from doing so prevents them from participating in our democracy.

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

The most intensive work I do is evaluating the need and delivery of capital outlay projects. I work on these projects with communities in Gallup and throughout the different Chapter Houses of the Navajo Nation. I do not support a change to capital outlay funding.

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?

Yes. Additional steps must be taken to depoliticize the process of drawing political boundaries.

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?

Yes, I had to file a personal bankruptcy many years ago.

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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