Q&A: House District 14 candidate Miguel P. García - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 14 candidate Miguel P. García

House District 14 candidate Miguel García. (Courtesy Miguel García)

NAME: Miguel P. García

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Retired APS Spanish language arts teacher; organic farmer; author

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Ranchos de Atrisco

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: New Mexico State Representative, 1997 to present, serving the District 14 communities and neighborhoods of Alamosa, Atrisco, Armijo, Barelas, Country Club, Five Points, South Broadway, Sky View West, Stinson/Tower, and West Central neighborhoods south of Central SW. Co-chair and founder of the Legislative Land Grant Interim Committee, 2003 to 2022. Chairman of the Labor & Human Resources Committee, 2005 to 2014. Chairman of the Local Government, Land Grants, & Cultural Affairs Committee, 2017 to 2022. Member of the Labor and Veterans Affairs Committee, 2017 to present. Member of the Legislative Health and Human Services Interim Committee, and the Legislative Investments and Pensions Oversight Committee. Twenty-three years as a community and Chicano civil rights leader in Atrisco and the South Valley prior to being elected in 1996.

EDUCATION: M.A. in Elementary Education, Spanish immersion focus, University of New Mexico, 1993. B.A. in secondary education, Spanish and history majors, Eastern New Mexico University, 1973.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: N/A

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?

Dependency on oil/gas revenues will exist as long as the legislature continues to have a laissez faire relationship with that industry. Price gouging left us with gasoline at $5 a gallon. Industry pollution exacerbated death and destruction worldwide. Decoupling the industry by prohibiting fracking is a start to diversification.

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, with the understanding that the individuals detained are afforded a speedy trial.

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?

Continue to provide funding to advocates for victims of homicide. I will propose legislation to prohibit heart wrenching and deafening modified mufflers on roadways; provide for automated red light and speeding cameras tied to the Motor Vehicle Code; create with DOT a “Brake on Yellow, Stop On Red” educational program.

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?

When it comes to the issue of protecting the reproductive health rights of New Mexico women, it is reasonable to codify such protections in statute, and oppose any restrictions in their entirety. Adhering to these practices reduces the risk of unsafe abortions, and therefore reduces the risk of maternal mortality.

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 making it a crime to fail to safely secure firearms around children?

I support a ban on military style assault firearms like the AK-47 and the AR-15. These firearms were made for the battlefield to take out a human life and not for target practicing or deer and elk hunting. I support the safely secure legislation and to make illegal the manufacturing of “ghost” firearms.

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 has always seemed to lack a steadfast leader who is willing to weather the storms. The appointment of Barbara Vigil as secretary of CYFD is a step in the right direction. What would improve prompt services and interventions to its clients would be a 24/7 work schedule.

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

Create a staggered tax for New Mexico owned small business start-ups, with 50 or less employees, starting at 2.125% and growing the rate one percent yearly for four years fixating it at the current rate. Eliminate exemptions and deductions for businesses that have never grown since the break was given.

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, I support a salaried Legislature. They should be paid the average salary of a New Mexico elementary school teacher, or the average salary of a municipal refuse collector — whichever is greater.

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 court should continue to provide oversight monitors observing the progress of the four student groups that the lawsuit contested that there were constitutional violations in providing these students with a sufficient education. We should provide differential pay to teachers who teach content in a language other than English.

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?

Yes, I wholeheartedly support the November ballot initiative.

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?

Support. The state should strive for 100% energy efficient buildings by 2025. It should achieve a 100% renewable energy goal of heating, cooling, and powering our buildings by 2028. It should create a 100% transition of their car fleets from gasoline powered to electric or alternative fuel by 2025.

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?

Our current governor acted appropriately in systematically dealing with the COVID pandemic. The measures that she took were timely in trying to reduce contamination and minimize deaths. The process that was undertaken serves as a template for us to use in future pandemics or health crisis.

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

I could possibly support such a system if all 112 legislators had equal input in determining such a system. I would not support a system concocted only by the Legislative Finance Committee.

14. Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election.

No.

15. What changes, if any, would you support to New Mexico’s election law?

Same day voter registration up to election day. Allow 16-year-olds to vote in school board elections. Prohibit an individual from filing a Declaration of Candidacy if he or she has been convicted of a felony.

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 drunk driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

No arrests for drunk driving or felony. In 1971, while a sophomore at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, I was arrested for a “sit-in” at the President’s Office. Chicano students were demanding an end to discriminatory hiring practices of native Indo-Hispanos. In 1971, ENMU had approximately 110 professors. Only one was Chicano. Within the administration and departments, no Chicanos or Chicanas were to be found as deans, directors, or supervisors, with a smattering of Chicanas in the clerical field. On the other hand, upwards of 90% of the janitorial and maintenance positions were held by Chicanos.

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