Q&A: House District 10 candidate G. Andrés Romero - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 10 candidate G. Andrés Romero

House District 10 candidate Andrés Romero (Courtesy Andrés Romero)

NAME: G. Andrés Romero

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Teacher, Atrisco Heritage Academy High School

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: State representative, House District 10 (2015-present), chair, House Education Committee (2019-present).

EDUCATION: B.A. — history and philosophy, University of New Mexico, M.A. — history, University of New Mexico

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: AndresRomeroForNM.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 should be a leader in clean energy and associated jobs. We must also continue bolstering our tourism and ecotourism sectors in order to break our bond from the extractive industries.

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 United States justice system is founded upon the principle of innocence until proven guilty. Violent criminals, first-degree child abusers and dangers to our communities should be considered for such punishment and the standard should be high and thorough.

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?

Crisis intervention teams with trained mental health professionals should be at the forefront of the Legislature’s response to crime. Law enforcement offices must be provided ample opportunities to train in mental health and crisis situations. Law enforcement and communities must also have access to mental health and social work professionals to treat the root causes of violence in our communities.

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 strongly support codifying abortion protections in state law without restrictions.

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 support such common-sense gun safety initiatives. We must take these steps to ensure the safety and security of our communities and our children.

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?

We provide all of the necessary resources to our social workers to provide families with thorough investigations, care giving and mental health services. It is imperative that we recruit, train and maintain our social workers in the field who are overburdened and overworked.

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

Our tax code should not be placing the burden on our working families. Instead, we must ensure those who earn the most are contributing the most.

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?

Yes, we must modernize and professionalize our Legislature including providing a salary to legislators. By providing a salary, we can draw citizens from more diverse walks of New Mexican lives to serve our state rather than the few who are able to now.

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?

We have made progress in the last few years, but there is still much to do to address student needs: increase the number of educators (particularly in special education and dual language classes), greater access to ancillary services for families, high-quality after school and extra curricular activities, and expanding career-technical opportunities.

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 fully support and have supported this effort. Expanding high-quality early childhood services and investments into our K-12 system is a recipe for improving the livelihood of future generations of New Mexicans.

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 is an urgent crisis we must address with appropriate action. I support efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 so our children have an inhabitable environment in order to enjoy the investments we’re making in their education.

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?

The executive must have the ability to act swiftly to address the urgency of once-in-a-lifetime pandemics and extraneous crises so long as the state remains a part-time, unpaid Legislature.

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

No, legislators who are elected by their communities should still be able to work with their communities to fund the projects they deem as necessary and appropriate for their own communities.

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?

As a state we should implement automatic voter registration, improve our absentee voting, make secure ballot drop boxes available, and allow 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections.

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.

Speeding ticket.

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