Q&A: House District 36 candidate Nathan Small - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 36 candidate Nathan Small

House District 36 candidate Nathan Small (Courtesy Nathan Small)

NAME: Nathan Small


OCCUPATION: Conservationist


RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: State representative, House District 36, since 2016; vice-chair, House Appropriations and Finance Committee; member, House Agriculture, Acequias, and Water Resources Committee. Member, Legislative Finance Committee. Recipient of Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce Start to Finish Award, N.M. Association of Commerce and Industry Focus Award; two-term Las Cruces City councilor.

EDUCATION: B.A., English and philosophy, College of Wooster

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: nathanpsmall.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?

With record revenue, we can afford generational investments. Investing in education, infrastructure, health care, and public safety alongside diversification efforts like film, water conservation and reuse, value-added agriculture, renewable energy, eco-tourism, trade, and high tech manufacturing. As these industries grow, we must build a fairer tax system for New Mexicans.

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?

We must invest sufficient resources to ensure there is equal and swift access to justice. Our justice system rests on the innocent until proven guilty principle. I am open to improvements that ensure dangerous defendants can’t commit crimes while awaiting trial.

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?

We need more law enforcement officers, well trained and well equipped, to catch and dissuade criminals. We need a well-resourced judicial system to swiftly administer justice; and we must expand and improve health care and services for New Mexicans facing substance use disorder, behavioral health challenges, and other risk factors.

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 support people’s access to all reproductive health care, including abortion. We must ensure patients are safe, aware of their rights and are able to get the care they need. I will oppose any attempts to restrict the rights of New Mexicans to make health care 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 am a lifelong gun owner and hunter. I know how important gun safety is. That’s why I supported universal background checks for gun purchases and creating a common-sense Red Flag law to prevent gun violence. I welcome conversations about how to protect our schools and communities from gun violence.

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?

CYFD must improve child safety by filling vacant positions, supporting frontline workers, engaging New Mexicans in collaborative solutions, and rebuilding trust. Differential response expansion, stronger community partnerships, cross agency collaborations, and a willingness to do whatever is necessary to safeguard kids from dangerous situations are vital.

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

I support eliminating existing loopholes and was proud to reduce the GRT as New Mexicans weathered some tough times. I think we can go further and reduce the gross receipts tax even more, while ensuring New Mexico can afford sufficient support for education, health care, public safety, natural resources and infrastructure.

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?

I support a paid legislature so that New Mexicans of all backgrounds can afford to serve. I support paid staff to work directly with New Mexicans and ensure they receive the support they deserve. I support proposals to develop an independent commission to determine an appropriate salary for legislators.

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?

I supported substantial raises for all educators that prioritized Native language educators, and growing the educator pipeline so that our students will have teachers who truly reflect them. I support working with sovereign tribal nations, parents, educators and principals to identify replicable best practices for New Mexico students.

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 am dedicated to making New Mexico the best Southwest state for raising a family. Passing our early childhood constitutional amendment is a key part of this effort. I strongly support this year’s constitutional amendment. This amendment will finally invest in our future leaders now, and our children deserve it.

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?

New Mexico is producing more energy than ever before. We are also reducing emissions through smart laws, common-sense regulation, and innovation-driven public-private partnerships. I support achieving net zero emissions by 2050. Federal investments will help us create thousands of new jobs, slash emissions and safeguard New Mexico’s future.

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?

I support the current system of emergency response to address critical challenges like recent catastrophic wildfires, subsequent flooding and other disasters.

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

We need more analysis to ensure capital outlay spending is effective and efficient, combined with other funding sources to solve community challenges instead of sitting idle. However, I strongly support local involvement in decision making, and would not want capital outlay decisions to be made without strong local guidance.

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)


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

I support the expansion of early and absentee voting and increased protections for election workers who face harassment or intimidation.

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?


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.

In 2011 during a traffic stop, I was taken into custody because of a bench warrant for forgetting to pay a traffic ticket. Embarrassed, I paid the traffic ticket at the station and the issue was resolved.

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