Q&A: House District 29 candidate Gregory Cunningham - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 29 candidate Gregory Cunningham

House District 29 candidate Gregory Cunningham. (Courtesy Gregory Cunningham)

NAME: Gregory Cunningham

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Retired APD officer/business owner

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Born and raised in Albuquerque, United States Marines Special Forces combat veteran, APD detective, small business owner.

EDUCATION: Menaul High School, University of Albuquerque (2 years)

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: avoicefornewmexico.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 must protect the Land Grant Permanent Fund by not overspending. New Mexico is blessed with plentiful oil and natural gas deposits. We must use this natural resource to benefit all of New Mexico. Only with an educated and skilled workforce will we be able to attract new businesses.

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?

Absolutely. Without question.

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 protect our law-abiding citizens and families. An overhaul of our education system is essential, the state must force prosecutors to enforce the law and we must establish mandatory sentencing guidelines and reduce judicial discretion.

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?

New Mexico already has state laws on the books protecting all abortions in New Mexico.

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 do not support the banning of any semi-automatic rifle. There are many ways we need to address the crime issue across New Mexico. First by overhauling our broken education system, enforcing laws and eliminating judicial discretion.

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?

Like much of New Mexico government that fails children we must do a top to bottom evaluation and make that department effective. Computer algorithms are not the answer as it has been suggested.

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

The New Mexico GRT should be abolished, and the necessary amount should be added to the sales tax. We should be honest about what consumers are paying in taxes.

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, $30,000 per year.

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?

New Mexico is 50th in the country for education. We spend half of our state budget, $4.8 billion to fail all of New Mexico’s children. We must overhaul our complete educational system.

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 state spends $4.8 billion this year to be dead last in education. Our checkbook isn’t broken our educational system is. All the Pre-K money in the world won’t keep a 10th grader in high-school. I will not support 350,000,000 more dollars for undefined programs on a legislative spending spree.

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 this legislation. Our state should be on par with other states and have a pro-business environment. This issue should be nationally regulated. We should be one country not 50 states with a patchwork of different emissions laws.

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?

All emergency powers that the governor has should not extend beyond 30 days without legislative approval.

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

No.

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 response.

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

I believe that any acceptable state ID should be required to vote. ID is required to buy cigarettes, liquor, or to board a plane. It seems appropriate to make sure the right voter is casting a 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, state of New Mexico in 2011 and released in 2012. GRT when business first opened.

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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