Q&A: House District 27 candidate Marian Matthews - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 27 candidate Marian Matthews

House District 27 candidate Marian Matthews (Courtesy Marian Matthews)

NAME: Marian Matthews


OCCUPATION: Retired; state representative


RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Current state representative; retired lawyer, child advocate, criminal prosecutor, educator, entrepreneur, deputy attorney general to then AG Tom Udall

EDUCATION: B.A. Political Science, Missouri State University; J.D. University of New Mexico

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: MarianMatthewsForHD27.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?

Create and implement both a statewide infrastructure plan that supports economic development (broadband, roads, renewable energy, etc.) and a workforce development plan to fill the new jobs. Encourage small business. Build out the changes we will need to adapt and survive a warmer climate and stressed water resources.

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. I was the lead sponsor of the “presumption” bill in the last session. Recent disclosures regarding lack of real time monitoring and other issues with the GPS monitoring system underscore the need for more stringent criteria to protect public safety.

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?

Reduce pretrial release and require real-time monitoring of those released with GPS. Update and strengthen laws on shoplifting, crimes committed with guns. Provide speedy trials, prioritizing trial for detainees. Implement a joint city-county mental health, addiction plan and programs. Adopt stronger gun safety laws consistent with the 2nd Amendment.

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.

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 support legislation to restrict the sale of assault weapons. I would add a mandatory one-year enhancement to the sentence of anyone convicted of contributing to the delinquency of a minor that involved allowing the minor access to a gun.

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?

Change the culture of this often secretive, unresponsive agency by creating an ombudsman office, requiring disclosure of comprehensive information, including key safety metrics, about neglect and abuse cases, consistent with the privacy rights of the children and families, and codify program improvements required in the Kevin S. litigation.

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

The original idea of the GRT was a low tax rate on virtually every sale. Today the rate is high and regressive, and the application to virtually every sale (pyramiding) discourages economic activity and development, and has encouraged numerous special interest exemptions. It’s time for a complete overhaul.

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?

Today’s Legislature requires year-round work. The current sessions are too short. The lack of pay and year-round staffing is a major impediment to developing sound public policy. The salary should not be set by the Legislature, but by an independent commission or as a percentage of the governor’s salary.

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?

COVID set back our children’s education even more. The plan submitted in the lawsuit appears to lack measurable goals, realistic timelines, and a roadmap for change. Change may require legislative help to resolve ongoing friction between local districts and the state Public Education Department, and grow broadband services.

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 support the proposed constitutional amendment. The change should help assure more adequate, reliable and consistent early childhood funding. That increased stability and predictability should help improve our kids’ outcomes, educational achievement and ultimately their futures.

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?

Climate change and air-quality issues are not respectful of a state’s boundary lines. While New Mexico’s goals are admirable, we’re not in this battle by ourselves. Hopefully we can be a model for the region and even our entire country and continent, thereby multiplying the impact of our actions.

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?

We can’t predict what kind of crisis might arise or what extraordinary powers might be necessary to deal with it. However, those adversely impacted by the exercise of emergency power should be able to get a quick review of whether the use of the power is appropriate as to them.

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

I support a statewide infrastructure plan with priorities for the entire state, fairly divides funds for the entire state, is appropriately updated, and would be entitled to X% of the overall capital outlay. The remaining percentage would still be divided among legislators to focus on their districts or local projects.

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?

Open primaries. Continued protection of Native American voting rights.

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.


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