Q&A: House District 23 candidate Ramon Montano - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 23 candidate Ramon Montano

House District 23 candidate Ramon Montano (Courtesy Ramon Montano)

NAME: Ramon Montano

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Senior account manager Honeywell

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Rio Rancho

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: President New Mexico School Boards, president Rio Rancho Board of Education, president of the Las Vegas City Schools Board of Education, chairman Sandoval Ethics Commission. Legislative advocate 20 years.

EDUCATION: Degree in political science

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: ramonmontano4nm.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 look at alternative sources so we don’t only rely on oil and gas. We need a long-range plan that will provide alternative options for our state while working with the oil and gas industry to clean up greenhouse emissions and methane pollution.

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?

I will propose legislation changes to pretrial detention that is currently in place. We must close the “revolving door” that is allowing repeat and violent criminals back onto the streets. New Mexico needs a system where we can identify violent and dangerous people so that we can hold them accountable.

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 must make sure we address mental illness, drug issues and homelessness. As a government, we need to strengthen the legislative environment, we need to ensure law enforcement agencies are able to directly tackle current and emerging forms of criminality.

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?

Women should have access to quality health care and contraception when needed or wanted. I believe a woman should have a say with what she does with her body. A woman should have options, support, and resources as she faces issues or concerns in managing her pregnancy.

5. New Mexico has already implemented several gun controls 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?

As a former police officer, we can reduce gun violence while respecting the rights of responsible gun owners. I support robust background checks and we must keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers, other violent criminals, or those who have shown signs of danger toward themselves or others.

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 their system as soon as possible, such as hiring more people, reducing caseloads, overhauling training protocols, and creating new critical incident teams to review cases. CYFD needs to bring all stakeholders to the table so that no child is left in a critical or dangerous situation. Transparency and oversight are greatly needed.

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

New Mexico must overhaul our GRT and look at ways to improve our system for businesses and taxpayers. I will work to pass legislation that will help make New Mexico a more business friendly state and reduce over regulated policies that are hurting our business.

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 oppose a salaried Legislature. We have no business voting for or creating polices that impact our own salaries, it’s just not right. I served four terms as a school board member and never received a paycheck for serving! We are here to serve the people.

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?

The New Mexico Public Education Department must allow school districts to have local control so they can make the best educational decisions for their students. New Mexico continues to rank among the bottom compared to other states. School districts need to spend a larger percentage of their budgets on instruction and a lower percentage of their budgets on general administrators.

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 early childhood education for all of New Mexico’s children. Providing high-quality early learning experiences including pre-kindergarten helps families prepare their children to achieve and succeed. Investing in high-quality, publicly funded universal pre-kindergarten is essential to building a prosperous future for New Mexico’s children.

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 looking at ways to limit our greenhouse emissions in our state. For all the complexities and the challenges associated with this we must substantially scale up investment and spending on capital. We will see a transformation of jobs across the economy that affect some job sectors.

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 would support a required legislative approval for a declared emergency extending more than a month. We should have a majority vote of both chambers to end one. We must have a cooperative way to handle safely an emergency or a pandemic that doesn’t negatively impact New Mexicans.

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

I support an open and transparent process so that all New Mexicans know how their tax dollars are being spent. Capital outlay is a very important process, legislators must make sure that the appropriation request is a community priority and a need that will benefit their taxpayers.

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?

We must do everything to encourage New Mexicans to exercise their right to vote. We could improve our voting turnout by educating our citizens as to why it is so important to vote. I also support the practice of allowing voters to vote early, or absentee.

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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