Q&A: House District 29 Republican candidate Gregory Cunningham - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 29 Republican candidate Gregory Cunningham

Gregory Cunningham
NAME: Gregory Cunningham

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Self employed/retired

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Retired APD officer/detective, veteran U.S. Marine Corps, business owner

EDUCATION: 14 years

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: avoicefornewmexico.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 protect the Land Grant Permanent Fund by not overspending. New Mexico is blessed with plentiful oil and natural gas deposits. We must use this natural resource to benefit all of New Mexico. Only with an educated and skilled workforce will we be able to attract new businesses.

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?

Absolutely. Without question.

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

We must protect our law abiding citizens and families. An overhaul of our education system is essential, the state must force prosecutors to enforce the law and we must establish mandatory sentencing guidelines and reduce judicial discretion.

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

The New Mexico GRT should be abolished, and the necessary amount should be added to the sales tax. We should be honest about what consumers are paying in taxes.

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?

Yes, $30,000 per year.

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 is 50th in the country for education. We spend half of our state budget, $4.8 billion to fail all of New Mexico’s children. We must overhaul our complete educational system.

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 should provide financial incentives for nurses in New Mexico and create a high school career path to be nurses or other health care workers. This will accelerate educational priorities and we should have special educational grants for these students who graduate and serve in New Mexico.

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?

Our state spends $4.8 billion this year to be dead last in education. Our checkbook isn’t broken our educational system is. All the Pre-K money in the world won’t keep a 10th grader in high school. I will not support 350,000,000 more dollars for undefined programs on a Democratic spending spree.

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 oppose this legislation. Our state should be on par with other states and have a pro-business environment. This issue should be nationally regulated. We should be one country not 50 states with a patchwork of different emissions laws.

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?

Consumption on school property or at a daycare should be a felony. I do not believe there should be legal public consumption areas.

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?

All emergency powers that the governor has should not extend beyond 30 days without legislative approval.

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?

No, each party should be responsible for choosing their candidates for the general election.

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

No.

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 oppose a redistricting commission. It should be a transparent legislative process and we should hold legislators accountable for their choices.

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.

No.

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