Q&A: House District 26 Democratic candidate Eleanor Chavez - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 26 Democratic candidate Eleanor Chavez

Eleanor Chavez

NAME: Eleanor Chavez

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Executive director National Union of Hospital and Health Care Employees District 1199NM

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: State Representative District 13 2009-2012, Public Education Commission District 1 2015-2017

EDUCATION: Master of Social Work, University of Washington

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: eleanorchavez.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?

New Mexico has been successful in developing the film industry, tourism and most recently the cannabis industry and we should continue to develop those areas. I believe that we should also expand renewable energy, (solar and wind) and support local agriculture as well as eco-tourism.

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?

We can’t lose sight of the fact that one is innocent until proven guilty. If there is sufficient evidence that one will reoffend, then that may justify holding them until their trial. But each case must be judged on its own facts and merits.

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

(Suburbs and rural districts) If we are going to feel safe in our community then we must address the root causes of crime by providing drug abuse treatment and mental health programs. When considering funding for police and fire departments we must include funding for social workers and mental health counselors.

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

Our current system of taxation is regressive. While New Mexico reduced the gross receipts tax in the last legislative session, we need to look to eliminate other loopholes that can be closed to make our tax system fairer.

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 absolutely support a paid Legislature. This would increase the diversity of the legislature and those who are able to serve their community.

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 Legislature made improvements in increasing educator salaries and funding for early childhood education, we must continue to do so. Addressing the teacher shortage will ensure we have the best teachers in our classrooms. This includes focusing funding for Native American students and students whose first language is not English.

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?

The Health Security Act is one way that we can strengthen health care while reducing costs. New Mexico should pursue bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals. We should also implement a “grow your own” program for health care workers who currently work in hospitals who wish to pursue their nursing degrees.

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 constitutional amendment.

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 limiting greenhouse gas emissions with the goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050.

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?

This is a good example of local homegrown businesses that should be given equal or more consideration as multinational corporations that may want to enter the cannabis industry.

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?

We don’t need to make any 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?

Our laws must punish those who harass election workers and voters. We need an option for automatic mail ballots and drop boxes for absentee ballots. I oppose opening primary elections to voters not 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?

I think how the state spends its capital outlay funding should be 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?

I support authorizing an independent redistricting commission.

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.

I have been arrested twice, both in planned acts of civil disobedience. One was fighting for labor rights against a corporate hospital and the second was being arrested with a Catholic nun and one other woman protesting former Governor Susanna Martinez.

 

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