Q&A: House District 40 Democratic candidate Roger Montoya - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 40 Democratic candidate Roger Montoya

Roger Montoya

NAME: Roger Montoya


OCCUPATION: Artist/nonprofit founder


RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 2018 CNN Hero, co-founder of Moving Arts Española (2008); co-founder of Española Pathways Shelter (2019); co-founder of La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences (2011); founded ‘Arts in the Schools’ program for the Española Public Schools (2002)

EDUCATION: Long Beach City College, A.A.; attended California State Long Beach

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: rogerfornm.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?

An immediate shift away from oil/gas would be a mistake. We need a clear transition to renewables — wind, solar and geothermal technologies that follow science, address climate change and diversify our economy. The fixation on hydrogen, which uses precious water and natural gas, is a false solution as carbon reducing technology already exists.

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?

The safety and well being of every New Mexican is paramount. I believe that violent offenders who commit heinous crimes such as murder or first-degree child abuse should not be released before trial.

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

The high level crime rates must be addressed with increased law enforcement with a strategic focus on appropriate training and compensation. We must also provide an array of team members with skills in crisis intervention, social work and mental/behavioral health. We must address the root cause(s) of criminal behavior, support community policing and LEAD programs and allow CPSWs to support those with addictions.

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

Our state is sitting on record revenues. We need a revamp of our tax code that provides substantial tax incentives for small businesses to thrive. I would propose suspending the GRT for small and start up businesses with less than 10 employees and eliminating taxes that severely harm our rural communities.

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 with paid staff. As a legislator outside of leadership with professional staff, I plan to introduce legislation that professionalizes our body. The lack of pay for members of our body correlates to our state’s ranking across all sectors and bars great New Mexicans from serving.

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?

We must design systems that celebrate culturally and linguistically relevant curricula to reflect local institutions and communities. It is time our legislative body fully funds all recommendations of the Yazzie/Martinez case, embraces the tribal remedy framework and allows communities to have a role in the education of their children.

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 uplift our health care system and give voice to those who fully understand the gaps and remedies required. We must build early elementary, high school, college and dual credit programs to mobilize a new generation of health care providers and expose young minds to this thriving industry.

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?

Yes I do. I have seen the positive results of prenatal parenting classes — as a child takes their first breath and after. This critical 0-3 year period of childhood growth and development is when a child bonds with parents or caregivers with authentic attachment. This essential brain stimulation sets the stage for maximized life long learning.

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?

Yes, I support such legislation.

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?

The current laws gave substantial advantage to large scale growers and producers over upstart entrepreneurs. I would like to see resources and technical support for rural businesses to enter and thrive in this new industry. I would like to see a percentage of revenue from cannabis taxation used for youth development programs that target 12-20 years old.

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 believe our governor should have every tool available to keep the residents of New Mexico safe during a time of crisis or in an emergency. COVID-19 was an unknown challenge none of us were prepared for. Limiting the governor’s authority at that time would have resulted in the deaths of more New Mexicans.

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?

Yes, I would support including independents and others to participate in primary elections.

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

I believe the capital outlay funding system could benefit from a merit based system.

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?

Yes, but only if we could ensure that the independent body was indeed unbiased.

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?

Yes. I have paid off a personal state income tax lien of $8,200.

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.


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