Q&A: House District 28 candidate Pamelya Herndon - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 28 candidate Pamelya Herndon

House District 28 candidate Pamelya Herndon (Courtesy Pamelya Herndon)

NAME: Pamelya Herndon

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Nonprofit executive, attorney

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Currently serving in the New Mexico House of Representative representing House District 28 in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights. Served as a senior trial attorney with the Department of Treasury, Internal Revenue Service; served as assistant attorney general for the state of New Mexico; served as general counsel and as a deputy cabinet secretary in New Mexico state government; currently president/CEO of a nonprofit law center; certified public accountant and licensed to practice law in the states of Colorado, New Mexico, and before the United States Supreme Court.

EDUCATION: Howard University, B.S. business administration; University of Texas Law School, Juris Doctor

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: pamelyaherndon.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?

To diversify the economy and be less reliant on fuel revenue, let’s grow what already works in our state like aerospace, film and television, and green energy. Let’s also address misalignment between higher education and industry. Finally repeal income tax cuts that have not produced additional jobs or economic stability.

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?

Although the pretrial system was created by New Mexico voters in a constitutional amendment that passed with 87% of the vote, judges make the final decision on release pending trial. We need to process cases faster by fully funding our court system and retool the broken Public Safety Assessment algorithm.

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?

The 2022 legislature began taking steps to address crime and public safety with enactment of HB 68 by: (1) sentence enhancement when firearms are used in the commission of serious violent crimes; (2) increasing the statute of limitations for second-degree murder; and (3) creating the law enforcement retention fund.

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 codifying abortion protections in state law. I oppose enacting restrictions on abortion in New Mexico. I support giving women the right to make decisions for themselves about their bodies. These are private, personal decisions between a woman, her family and her doctor, made without governmental interference.

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 AR15-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 support legislation that will ban or restrict the sale of AR-15 style semi-automatic weapons. I strongly support legislation making it a crime, and imposing penalties against adults who fail to safely secure firearms, so they are out of the reach of minors.

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 an agency, CYFD is severely understaffed. I support more funding for CYFD to increase staff. The increased funding will also be used to provide salaries for CYFD employees that is more aligned with the stress and demands of the job.

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

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax is a complex system. We should eliminate destination gross receipts tax, increase transparency and usability of the system, and make it simpler for small and mid-sized businesses to understand.

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 salaried Legislature, together with a minimum of two paid staff members. Legislators should be paid a minimum of $35,000/year.

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 generally support the draft action plan with an emphasis on the need to retain the current teachers; recruit more teachers to join the ranks; develop a pipeline of home-grown teachers, encouraging them to live in the communities where they teach; and respecting home languages by implementing culturally responsive instruction.

10. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten, and childcare 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 support the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that will allow more money to be withdrawn from the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-12 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?

I support both initiatives.

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?

Emergency powers of the governor should be allowed to remain in place for 30 days in the time of crisis, with the Legislature allowed to grant continuance of emergency powers for an unlimited number of 30-day extensions. This allows for checks and balances on the use of power.

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

Yes.

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?

Voting should be straightforward, convenient and fair. First implement automatic voter registration; second, establish a permanent absentee voter list, giving voters the option of signing up once to receive absentee ballots; third, pass legislation to make Election Day a state holiday.

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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