NAME: Melissa Armijo
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Executive administrator, National Hispanic Cultural Center Foundation
CITY OF RESIDENCE: South Valley, Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: My entire career has been in service to South Valley youth. I currently serve as the public education commissioner for the South Valley and West Side; served on the Central New Mexico Community College Governing Board; and am the board president of the Mark Armijo Academy Charter High School, named after my late husband.
EDUCATION: Attended New Mexico State University and the University of New Mexico. Completed two programs at the Executive & Professional Education Center at the Anderson School of Management at UNM.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: MelissaArmijoforNM.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?
The South Valley should lead in creating clean, better-paying jobs in new industries like film production, cannabis, local foods, and especially renewable energy. We must also bring fairness to our antiquated tax code. That means repealing the tax cut on the wealthy and the capital gains tax cut.
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?
Each case needs to be assessed on its own. Our system is based on being innocent until proven guilty. Pretrial detention must be held to a high standard, e.g., if an individual charged with a violent offense has a pattern of violent offenses.
3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?
Growing up in the South Valley, I believe that crime does not happen in a vacuum. Along with funding fire, police, and EMT, we must address the root causes of why people choose to commit crimes, such as having unmet basic needs and lack of access to education.
4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Gross receipts taxes are regressive. We need to lower the GRT, get rid of special interest loopholes, and create new revenue with a more progressive tax structure.
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?
I strongly support a paid Legislature. Right now, we have a Legislature full of individuals who can afford to be there. We need lawmakers who understand what South Valley families go through every day.
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?
New Mexico has done so much, particularly in raising educator salaries and raising funding for early childhood education, including Pre-K. Our next challenge is to recruit the best teachers and other educational employees, and support them to adapt curriculum to fit students needs.
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?
We must offer competitive salaries for all health care workers; encourage students to enter health care professions; and bring down the cost of prescription drugs. It is time to look at real reforms, like a public option or Medicare for All, because all other efforts to control health care costs have failed.
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 strongly support the constitutional amendment and urge all voters to vote yes.
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?
I strongly support zero emissions by 2050, and ideally, even sooner. Climate change is an area that absolutely cannot wait if we want a world that is inhabitable for future generations.
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?
I applaud our new law that recognized how harsh drug laws marginalized our communities for decades and expunged prior possession charges so that everyone can participate in this new area of business. We must do more to put homegrown, local cannabis businesses on equal footing with multinational corporations.
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?
The current system is working well.
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?
New Mexico should do more to make elections secure, convenient, and safe. That means strong punishment for harassment of election workers, absentee voting dropboxes, and an option for automatic mail ballots. I do support opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?
The idea of a merit-based system sounds good, but I think it would be impossible to implement. I strongly support capital outlay becoming fully transparent.
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?
The current system worked really well in its first year. I think we should give it a chance to succeed.
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?
Yes. When I was 18, I had to file for bankruptcy to help my family. All requirements from that bankruptcy have been met long 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.