NAME: Darrell Deaguero
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: President, LiUNA Local 16
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Labor leader with many years of experience working with the Legislature.
EDUCATION: Graduate of Farmington High, attended San Juan College but did not complete a degree.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: darrellfornm.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?
We must diversify our economy by continuing supporting growth industries like cannabis, film, renewable energy, and outdoor recreation. We must also build a fairer and more equitable tax code by increasing the corporate tax rate, repealing the tax cut for the wealthiest New Mexicans, and the capital gains tax cuts.
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?
Innocent until proven guilty is the bedrock of our judicial system. We must be thoughtful when holding someone behind bars before trial, with decisions reviewed on a case-by-case basis and a rigorous threshold for detainment, such as a violent criminal history or evidence that they will continue to commit crimes.
3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?
We must fully fund and staff our police, fire, and EMT services while also making sure we have social workers and mental health experts available to accompany our first responders on nonviolent calls. We must focus on reducing poverty and substance abuse in order to reduce crime.
4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico needs to build a fairer and more equitable tax code. The gross receipts tax is regressive. It needs to be lowered and its loopholes need to be closed. The difference in revenue can be made up with a more progressive tax code.
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?
The Legislature is meant to be a representative body, but the current compensation structure for legislators means only those who can afford to do these jobs can serve. We need to properly compensate our representatives with a living wage so that no working New Mexican is barred from holding office.
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 increased teacher salaries to retain and attract talented staff and funded early childhood education, but we still have more to do. As Yazzie v. Martinez showed, it’s our most disadvantaged children who need our help, and the Legislature must ensure these children are not left behind.
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?
Every New Mexican deserves quality, affordable health care. We must lower the cost of prescription drugs and decouple health insurance from employment, enacting real health care reform like Medicare for All. We must also offer competitive salaries to our health care workers, just as we have recently done with educators.
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 to leverage the Land Grant Permanent School Fund and increase funding for our children’s education.
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 legislation that addresses climate change and requires the state to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. As a labor leader, however, I will always prioritize workers and will work to ensure that any legislation that displaces hard working New Mexicans offers solutions that addresses their needs.
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?
Regulating and taxing cannabis was an important step to diversifying New Mexico’s economy. However, we need to make sure we’re prioritizing our local small businesses and giving them a chance to compete with the larger national retailers that are quickly coming to dominate the sector.
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?
No, I believe the current system worked, and is working, as intended.
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 has some of the most secure elections in the country, but in order to increase participation, we must push for automatic mail ballots and drop boxes for absentee voting. I also support opening our primary elections, giving as many New Mexicans as possible a voice in the process.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?
While I would consider a merit-based evaluation system, I am concerned that implementation would be extremely difficult if not impossible. Rather, I strongly support making the capital outlay process fully transparent, so our constituents can see what resources are going where, and how they got there.
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?
Now that New Mexico’s Citizens Redistricting Commission has completed its work, I would call the process a success. The final maps turned out either identical or only slightly modified from those proposed by the commission and are fair and just. I would support authorizing the committee in the future.
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.