NAME: Danny Bernal Jr.
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Mayor pro tem, city of Belen; Federal Investigations, ADC LTD NM.
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Belen
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Board member, executive member, or ex officio of 12 different boards: Belen City Council, Valencia Association of Local Elected Officials, Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Greater Belen Chamber of Commerce, Belen MainStreet Partnership, Believe in Belen Initiative, Belen Historic Properties Review Board, Library Board of Trustees, Belen Lodger’s Committee, Belen Neighborhood Watch, Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, The Hub Community Theatre.
EDUCATION: Belen High School diploma; some college University of New Mexico — Valencia Campus (2016-2018)
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: dannybernaljr.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?
We need to diversify. Investing in clean energy, jobs, and tourism. This is something I’m working on in Belen. I helped approve the 108-acre solar farm south of Los Lunas that’ll bring clean energy to Valencia County and New Mexico. 25%+ of all surpluses should be put in a rainy day fund.
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. My family has been affected by violent criminals. There’s no reason a violent or repeat offender should only serve two years. In addition, we need changes to our laws to increase jailtime for violent and repeat offenders. What we’re doing right now isn’t working. We need change.
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?
For violent and repeat crime we need to change the laws that are used as an excuse by our judicial branch and prosecutors to let criminals go. Laws that ensure more and better policing are proven to help reduce violent crime. Investing in youth employment programs also reduces violent crime.
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 medical privacy. I don’t like when the government is involved in my personal business. The government’s job is to ensure my rights are protected, other than that, stay out mine and other people’s lives. I support codifying that a woman and her family make their own decision.
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?
Any gun owner knows that it’s your responsibility to keep firearms safe and secure. If you can’t do that, you should be held accountable. I would not support raising the age limit. Mental health and tougher criminal background safeguards need to be required instead.
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?
My opponent will be another ten years of promises NOT kept with CYFD, just like her predecessor. First, establish goals, policies and procedures to guide prioritization, decision-making and resources. Second, increase training and education. Lastly, require strict performance reviews and audits that address the established goals.
7. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Municipalities should remain in charge of GRT code, the state should not impede on a municipalities decision making. I am open to supporting lowering the state GRT to help businesses. I’m always open to other ways we can make the burden of tax easier on our small and local businesses.
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. Working families can’t be properly represented if they can’t serve in office due to their full time jobs. This is something I’ll have to juggle and may be taking a pay cut from my full time job to serve my community.
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?
Properly fund our schools and resources/programs! It’s the responsibility of our government to provide a free and quality education to our youth. Help those who are at a disadvantage catch up. Proper education and resources can help reduce crime.
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?
Our youth are extremely important to our future. In order to have a higher quality of life in New Mexico, we need to ensure that our children are supported and successful. I support this amendment.
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 oppose any legislation that’ll negatively affect our oil and gas industry until we properly diversify. If there is a plan to achieve zero emissions by 2050 that’ll support our economy and our people, I’ll support it. Clean energy is inevitable and necessary to protect our planet.
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?
No. It’s the legislature’s responsibility to check the other branches of government, but not to impede. The people elect a governor to lead in times of crisis. It’s her elected responsibility to make the toughest decisions. Let the people decide if there should be a change of leadership in November.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?
I want transparency and equity. I don’t want big cities receiving everything while our rural areas go neglected. Just because a community project might not achieve special status doesn’t mean it isn’t legitimate and necessary. We elect legislators to act on our needs, not an unelected, appointed board.
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?
I believe we have to secure and trust in our voting system. I support legislation that supports absentee and early voting and makes it a crime to intimidate election officials.
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.