Q&A: House District 46 Democratic candidate Andrea Romero - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 46 Democratic candidate Andrea Romero

Andrea Romero

NAME: Andrea Romero

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Law student, entrepreneur

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Santa Fe

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected to serve HD46 in 2018; I have a record of international and local public, private and community service.

EDUCATION: Law student, University of New Mexico (graduation May 2022); Stanford University, Bachelor of Arts in political science, 2009; Santa Fe High School graduate, 2005

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: andrearomero.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 need to make way for industries that are environmentally, culturally and socially appropriate, helping us to grow our opportunity with high-paying jobs that allow families to thrive here. Along with supporting industries and holding them accountable like cannabis, we should do more with renewable energy, fintech, local food production and film.

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?

It is unconstitutional to be considered guilty until proven innocent. The law proposed last session was fundamentally unconstitutional, disregarding the criminal justice system which is founded on a rule of law and providing everyone their day in court. Accused violent offenders, murderers and first-degree child abusers with proper evidence against them should absolutely be held until trial.

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

Law enforcement and first responders must be fully trained and funded to respond to our community’s needs. The shortage of mental and behavioral health services, and alternative response units, is inextricably linked to the rise in crime. We must focus on hiring social workers and mental health professionals who can respond to the root causes of crime.

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

In the coming year, our tax system must be overhauled to ensure the highest earners, including corporations, are also paying the highest taxes in the state. Today, that system remains regressive and taxes the poorest among us the harshest. We must get rid of loopholes and replace revenue with progressive taxation.

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?

Strongly support! This current legislative system, derived in the 1930s, makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for those who need to work for a living to run for legislative office. This shuts out important diverse voices, who truly represent the fabric of New Mexico, from running for 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?

We have made great strides in addressing the legislative shortcomings uncovered by the Yazzie-Martinez case and we must do more. We’ve increased educator salaries, focused on and funded early childhood education, and are providing free college to all. Equitable and culturally relevant access to each of these endeavors will be the true test.

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?

Just as we have done with teaching, we must offer competitive salaries and incentives for nurses, doctors, social workers, and the staff that support them. We must bring down the cost of prescription drugs. Ultimately, free health care is the goal, starting with a public option or Medicare for All.

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?

Strongly support. Investing in our children’s future is the best investment we can make. It follows neuroscience data and proof in the economic returns. It’s a win-win for all.

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! We can do much to accelerate our way to this goal by continuing to invest in our renewable energy future as a state, such as promoting programs like community solar, and continue to support the exportation of clean energy to surrounding states.

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?

Our cannabis program is the most progressive and equitable cannabis legalization effort in the U.S. We have already proposed minor improvements to the law, such as ensuring that micro-growers can increase their plant count from 200 to at least 1,000 plants. We must utilize our record-breaking revenues to reinvest in New Mexico and support micro-business growth.

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?

The current system is working well and has worked well to keep New Mexicans safe.

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 strongest election laws in the country, and there’s more we can do. I’m for anything we can do to promote our democracy through convenient, safe and undoubtedly secure elections. The primary system today is simple and it works. If you register with a party, you can vote in its primary.

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

I strongly support capital outlay being fully transparent. Anything we can do to ensure the funds distributed are meeting the needs of our local communities, I am on board.

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?

The current system worked really well in its first year. I think we should give it a subsequent chance to succeed.

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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