Q&A: House District 52 candidate Doreen Gallegos - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 52 candidate Doreen Gallegos

House District 52 candidate Doreen Gallegos (Courtesy Doreen Gallegos)

NAME: Doreen Gallegos

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Executive director, Mesilla Valley CASA

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have represented District 52 since 2014 and am the only Doña Ana County New Mexico Representative in House leadership. I serve as the executive director of Mesilla Valley Court Appointed Special Advocates. We advocate for abused and neglected children who are in foster care.

EDUCATION: B.A. and master’s in social work, NMSU

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: doreengallegos.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?

Renewable energy has already begun to diversify our economy, especially in our rural areas. We need to boost tourism, hotels and restaurants, and continue to expand the film industry through local crews and infrastructure. The Santa Teresa area can be the economic driver for the next decade and deserves support.

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?

I opposed recent changes to bail statutes. It is important that judges have all the tools available to protect public safety. I do not think a one-size-fits-all approach to pretrial detention is workable. Judges need options.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety as New Mexico faces one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation?

Much of the crime in Las Cruces has its roots in addiction and mental health — we need more funding for services and facilities. Additionally, jobs and early childhood education deter crime. Lastly, police need the tools to be safe and protect us.

4. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, do you support or oppose codifying abortion protections in state law? And do you support or oppose enacting any restrictions on abortion in New Mexico?

I am a strong supporter of codifying abortion protections in state law. We must protect access to abortion in our state, and I will oppose any attempts to restrict the rights of women to make decisions for themselves.

5. New Mexico has already implemented several gun control laws in recent years. Would you support or oppose legislation that banned or restricted the sale of AR-15-style semi-automatic weapons, such as raising the age limit for purchasing such weapons? And what about legislation making it a crime to fail to safely secure firearms around children?

I do not support weapons of war for public purchase. I support raising the age of purchasing some firearms. These laws, along with red flag laws, a ban on ghost guns, and preventing domestic abusers from owning a gun are common sense reforms that will make our community safer.

6. The state agency tasked with keeping New Mexico children safe has faced recent scrutiny over transparency issues and its handling of high-profile child abuse cases. What changes would you support to improve the operations of the Children, Youth and Families Department?

As one who works with children and families and worked at CYFD, I know how important and difficult this work is. CYFD is woefully understaffed. Nearly every cabinet secretary has tried to change the culture there. It’s time the Legislature steps in with oversight capabilities and forces change.

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

We must make changes to our gross receipts tax that promote businesses and especially small businesses in New Mexico, while keeping an eye on revenue. There are some loopholes that can be closed. I support further reductions to the gross receipts tax if we can make those reductions revenue neutral.

8. 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?

There is a proposal currently to develop a commission to conduct research and recommend a salary level that would be appropriate for New Mexico. I support that type of study to modernize our Legislature.

9. 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’ve worked hard to prioritize education in recent state budgets. We invested in our teachers to ensure their wages outperform neighboring states. We must make the money we’ve invested work by recruiting Native language and Spanish speaking educators while ensuring that the classroom experience is culturally and linguistically relevant.

10. 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?

I sponsored the Early Childhood Trust Fund, which is estimated to grow to $4 billion by 2025 derived by surpluses in revenues. My legislation ensures that all New Mexico kids are “trust fund babies.” I have supported this amendment in the past.

11. 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 support limiting greenhouse gas emissions and reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, if not sooner. Reducing the impact of climate change is critical for all of us and especially for those in agriculture.

12. 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 statute is old. I am not opposed to examining the statute for possible modifications.

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

I believe capital outlay decisions are best left to the elected representatives of the voters. These representatives know their own community the best. I would not want lawmakers from other parts of the state dictating to small communities like Anthony, Berino and Mesquite what their needs are.

14. Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election? (Yes or No answer only, please)

No.

15. What changes, if any, would you support to New Mexico’s election laws?

I support legislation which provides for ballot security and strengthened protection for election workers who face increasing harassment and intimidation. These individuals must be allowed to implement elections for our democracy. I also support efforts making it easier to vote early or absentee.

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.

Home » 2022 election » Q&A: House District 52 candidate Doreen Gallegos

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