Q&A: House District 24 candidate Liz Thomson - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 24 candidate Liz Thomson

House District 24 candidate Liz Thomson (Courtesy Liz Thomson)

NAME: Elizabeth “Liz” Thomson

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Pediatric physical therapist (retired)

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 8 years in House, chair of House Health and Human Services Committee, vice-chair of New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee. Currently serve on Disability Rights of New Mexico and SYNCRONYS (Health Information Exchange) boards. Previously served on the N.M. Autism Society, N.M. Developmental Disabilities Planning Council, Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs, N.M. Chapter of the American Physical Therapy Association boards.

EDUCATION: Crownpoint High School, UNM physical therapy

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: lizthomsonfornm.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?

Investing in human capital (education for all ages) will prepare our workforce for jobs in renewable energy, high tech (in cooperation with higher education and Labs), film and other growing industries. An educated workforce will bring industry/jobs to the state.

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?

The original legislation was intended to prevent people from being held behind bars solely because they did not have enough money for bail. I agree with that premise. I will evaluate the data and listen to the experts. My position will depend on the what the facts show.

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 crime problem isn’t new — there are no quick and easy solutions. Investments are currently being made in education (particularly early), behavioral health, including for substance use, family support, job training, housing, health care and more. The best crime prevention strategy is a job that pays enough to provide a decent life.

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 a woman’s right to make her own decision in consultation with her family, medical provider and others as desired. Abortion is health care. Politicians do not belong in medical decisions.

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 common-sense gun legislation. I would support age 21 to purchase certain guns. Since gun violence has become the leading cause of death in children 1-19, mandating safe storage seems like a necessary step. I don’t believe weapons of war belong on our streets, nor do massive magazines.

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?

This is a tough and long-lived problem. I would invest in measures to help the department to become fully staffed. Overworked, underpaid and overstressed staff are not able to do the difficult and necessary work. Caseload limits must be reasonable and followed. Transparency is needed.

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

The tax committees are doing a deep dive into tax policy. I will support what these experts recommend.

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 salary, as our current system prevents most New Mexicans from serving. Our Legislature should reflect our people, and it currently does not. A study by non-legislators should determine salary, perhaps the Ethics Commission or a different entity.

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?

Kids with disabilities are also included. I started, and have been working, with a team of experts, including the secretaries of the Public Education Department and Early Childhood Education and Care Department, family members, educators and state staff to develop a strong plan for the education of students with disabilities. My bill created the special education ombud program.

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?

Strongly support as a primary co-sponsor. The best way to affect a myriad of costly problems (including crime, child abuse, poor educational outcomes, poverty, substance use) is to prevent them. Investing in our youngest and their families is a proven strategy with a great return on investment

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.

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?

In a state with such a part-time Legislature, it would be nearly impossible to be nimble enough in an emergency. If the Legislature changes to become more “professionalized,” emergency powers should be reviewed.

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

I support the concept but as always, the proof is in the pudding. Devising a fair system will be difficult but necessary.

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?

Making it easier to vote via automatic registration with an opt out. Mail-only elections a possibility. Continue with paper ballots. A “holiday” on Election Day to encourage more people to vote.

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?

Yes. As an independent contractor, I had a dispute. It was resolved.

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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