Q&A: House District 28 candidate Nicole Chavez - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 28 candidate Nicole Chavez

House District 28 candidate Nicole Chavez (Courtesy Nicole Chavez)

NAME: Nicole Chavez

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Director of Sales & Outreach, Presbyterian Health Plan

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 21 years in health care, homicide victim advocate, founder of Robbed New Mexico, 5 year previous PTA president; Jackson Middle School.

EDUCATION: B.S., business administration

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: Nicolechavezfornm.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?

New Mexico needs to create a climate that attracts businesses. That means better schools, safer communities and a regulatory climate that is more business friendly. Neighboring states have grown at record pace while we are losing talent and continue to atrophy because of the systemic issues our state faces.

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?

Yes. Sadly, it’s telling of where we are as a state when it comes to combating crime, and our failure to seriously address the problem of career criminals, when this question even has to be asked of candidates. Combating crime is paramount to resolving many issues facing our state.

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 to immediately address the pretrial release process to stop revolving door criminals. Speedy trials and certainty of sentencing outcomes must be a focus. Creating mandatory educational/vocational training to incarcerated juveniles and adults is vital for creating real job skills for reentry into society to prevent career criminals.

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?

Abortion is already legal in New Mexico up to the moment of birth. I support prohibiting late-term abortions, which the vast majority of New Mexicans agree on this point. I also believe there should be exceptions for instances of rape, incest and the health/safety of the mother.

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 would not vote to ban guns but do believe responsible gun owners should secure their firearms at home. My focus as a legislator would be keeping guns out of the hands of criminals who already do not follow our laws that are in place.

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?

I testified in support of an independent and autonomous ombudsman during the 2022 New Mexico legislative session. CYFD cannot continue to police themselves. There must be an external oversight agency. Child safety and department transparency must be top priorities for our state as children are dying under the current CYFD administration.

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

The tax code should be rewritten to replace Gross Receipts Tax with a straight sales tax and eliminate the numerous special interest tax incentives. A clean, broad based and fair tax code will promote business growth, employment opportunities, lower pricing, and stabilize state revenues while making New Mexico more competitive.

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?

No, I do not support paying legislators a salary. I do not believe paying legislators will result in better results and I believe maintaining a citizen Legislature is consistent with New Mexico’s heritage and culture.

8. 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?

New Mexico continually ranks at the bottom of education nationally, yet we elect the same leaders. Regardless of ZIP code, every child deserves a quality education. Ensuring quality teachers in the classroom is the foundation of a quality education, and initiatives like teacher mentorships and professional development must be supported.

9. 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?

The Early Childhood Trust Fund is expected to grow to $8.9 billion by 2027, not counting the proposed amendment. Clearly early childhood programs are not lacking in funding and the constitutional amendment is no longer necessary. The amendment itself is problematic, as community and faith-based providers cannot access these funds.

10. 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?

While a worthy goal, our families are suffering from inflation and high gas prices. My first priority is providing families with financial relief. Moreover, we have some of the cleanest natural gas in the world. Utilizing this resource in a clean way to prevent rolling blackouts must be a priority.

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 governor’s emergency powers should be reduced, as I strongly believe that the people through the legislative branch should be involved in times of crisis regardless of what party holds the governor’s mansion. At a minimum, extending emergency powers beyond 30 days should require legislative approval.

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

Yes. There are approximately $2.1 billion in unspent capital outlay funds. A merit-based system will better ensure that our taxpayer’s monies are being implemented more efficiently.

13. 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)

Respondent did not limit answer to yes or no as requested.

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

I support continued funding for more common-sense measures that ensure we have clean voter rolls and ensure secure elections in order to allow New Mexicans easy access to cast their ballot. I believe that most New Mexicans support laws that make it easier to vote and instill confidence in our voting and collection process.

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.

Yes. I was arrested but not convicted of DUI in 2006.

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