NAME: Cherise D. Quezada
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Most recently, assistant to District 26 state Rep. Georgene Louis (the seat I am running for), policy analyst to ABQ City Councilor Klarissa Peña, have worked at N.M. Municipal League and YDI.
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Assistant to state Rep. Georgene Louis, District 26; committee assistant to the House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee at the Legislature; policy analyst to Albuquerque City Councilor Klarissa Pena, District 3; Route 66 West Neighborhood Association, president, since 2014; Southwest Alliance of Neighbors, Executive Board, since 2010; voter registration agent since 2013; Youth Development Inc. (YDI), executive assistant to Chris Baca, former president/CEO, 2010-2016; N.M. Municipal League, 2000 – 2010
EDUCATION: High school equivalency diploma
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: cherisefornm.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?
Continue to invest and expand the film industry; expand renewable energy industry using wind and solar; invest in our workforce to make New Mexico attractive to industry; expand universal early childhood education and the job opportunities this industry creates.
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. The law currently allows judges to hold violent offenders behind bars pending trial. The courts need to focus more on public safety when the allegations involve murder and other violent crimes including domestic violence or child abuse.
3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?
Implement pretrial supervision by enforcing all court orders and 24-hour GPS monitoring devices; increase salaries and staffing levels for public safety (police officers, firefighters, paramedics and guards); invest in new technology for DA offices; invest in behavioral health and rehabilitation programs; invest in crime-fighting technology; replicate community policing model.
4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Lower the Gross Receipt Tax rate to help small businesses. I support recent proposals to close tax loopholes in the tax code as well as making it more progressive to keep money in the pockets of low-income workers and locally owned 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.
I support a salaried Legislature and firmly believe it would diversify our leadership so elected office is not limited to retirees or people of wealth. A reasonable salary would make serving in the Legislature more appealing to the younger generation and regular community members.
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 must close the achievement gap for our state to succeed. We need to recruit and retain the best teachers and work with our tribal leaders. The state should consider implementing and investing in statewide dual language classrooms or bilingual education to make learning equitable.
7. What should be the priority as New Mexico seeks to strengthen its health care system?
I would create a “LEDA-like” program for health care. We need to incentivize doctors and nurses locating to rural New Mexico. N.M. needs a dental school so our best and brightest can study medicine in-state. We need more school-based health centers and I will fight for a new hospital on the West Side.
How should the state address a shortage of nurses and other health care workers?
Expand and incentivize nursing academic programs; grant certifications for spouses of our military so nurses can start work immediately; offer rental assistance for health care workers; incentivize health care workers practicing in rural areas; expand broadband and incentivize telehealth to maximize resources. Strengthen assault and battery laws to protect health care providers.
8. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and childcare 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 Early Childhood Constitutional Amendment. The annual distribution from our $26 billion Permanent Fund is currently too low. With the creation of the new Early Childhood Education & Care Department the accountability structures are in place to build a world class early childhood system for future generations.
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?
Strongly support. Increase incentives for homeowners and businesses to invest in renewable energy; be the leader of demand for an energy economy; incentivize telecommuting as an energy conservation effort; incentivize electric cars and invest in adequate infrastructure needed to sustain them; I support the closing of San Juan Generating Station.
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? We must monitor the cannabis industry between now and the next session to improve on existing law.
Prohibit public consumption to help keep our roads are safe. Cannabis legalization is long overdue, and we can learn from other states to ensure it’s done the right way.
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?
I think that we need the University of New Mexico and Legislative Council Services to study the pandemic, once we have the information, we can make any necessary changes.
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 believe in making voting more accessible to all members of our community, including same-day voter registrations which would allow anyone to join the Democratic Party and participate.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?
I support the reforms that were made requiring legislators to publicly disclose capital outlay as it allows the voters to determine if their elected official is adequately representing their district.
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. I believe the process should be led by a diverse group of citizens that redistricting lines will affect rather than lawmakers and adjusting the counts of those who are in prison or living in homeless shelters by using their last known address so the population counts aren’t as skewed.
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. I was involved in a personal bankruptcy upon divorce.
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.