Q&A: House District 38 candidate Tara Jaramillo - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 38 candidate Tara Jaramillo

House District 38 candidate Tara Jaramillo (Courtesy Tara Jaramillo)

NAME: Tara Jaramillo

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Speech language pathologist, CEO of Positive Outcomes, Inc. (Founded in 1999)

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Socorro

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: CEO, Positive Outcomes, LLC, 1999-current; Socorro Consolidated School Board member, 2021-current; chair, Socorro Democratic Party, 2018-2020; chair, New Mexico Next Generation Council 2020-Present;

EDUCATION: New Mexico State University, B.A. in special education, 1993; New Mexico State University, Masters in speech language pathology, 1995

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: tarajaramillofornm.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?

As with all good business practices, New Mexico must diversify by building on our strengths like film, cannabis, renewable energy, outdoor recreation, tourism, local food production and support for local businesses. I support repealing tax cuts on the wealthiest and exempting income tax on military retirement.

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?

As a family and child advocate, I believe that our focus must be on children’s safety and welfare. I believe judges should have discretion, based on the facts before them, when determining whether to keep dangerous individuals in jail until trial so that victims and our community are protected.

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?

First, local law enforcement departments must be fully funded and staffed. Second, violent criminals must face swift and certain punishment. Third, to reduce drug-related crime we need to add more behavioral health and drug treatment centers in rural communities and small towns.

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 believe that reproductive rights are freedoms that should be protected and these very personal decisions women make must remain with her, her family, and her doctor, without government interference or restrictions.

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 believe owning a firearm is a right, but it also comes with responsibilities. These responsibilities are to ensure that they are used and secured safely and sold to responsible individuals.

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?

We must increase prevention and intervention for parental drug abuse as well as mental health support for families. Increased transparency and collaboration with community partners such as schools, income support programs, and juvenile justice delinquency prevention providers must exist so that all involved advocate for the child’s needs.

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

We need to lower the gross receipts tax, get rid of loopholes, and replace that revenue by repealing the tax cut that the wealthiest New Mexicans have benefited from for over a decade. I support exempting income tax on military retirement.

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?

Support. When our leaders look more like the community they represent, the better we will be. Right now only retired or well-to-do people can afford to serve in the Legislature. We need working class people involved in government who understand what New Mexico families need.

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?

Although we have made great strides to increase educator salaries and early childhood education funding, more must be done. The Martinez-Yazzie lawsuit established priorities that all students — regardless of geography or race — should have access to the best education. These agreements must be enforced, timelines maintained, and results reported to the public.

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 strongly support this constitutional amendment to increase funding for early childhood programs while also holding the institutions to a high evidence based standard of education.

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?

Support.

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 system is working well.

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

I strongly support capital outlay becoming fully transparent. Although a merit based system seems equitable, the unique infrastructure needs of rural communities and small towns often don’t get the attention and funding they deserve.

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?

New Mexico must do more to make voting more accessible. A focus on safe, secure, and varied voting options should exist, including drop boxes in each county and more early voting options in rural and tribal lands.

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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