Political Party: Democratic
Education: Bachelor’s, University of Arizona; master’s and doctorate, University of New Mexico; J.D., University of New Mexico School of Law
Statement: I consider it a privilege to have represented House District 18, a diverse and progressive group of neighborhoods that includes UNM, since 1996. My constituents are particularly concerned about high-quality public education, social justice and the protection of New Mexico’s environment. I share their values.
1. Student achievement should be an important element of teacher evaluation. However, research shows that teachers do not necessarily have a significant impact on children’s performance on high-stakes standardized tests. Parental involvement and family income level are greater predictors of achievement. In evaluating teachers, we should measure students’ abilities to read, comprehend, reason, solve problems and think critically. Students, parents and teachers are frustrated by excessive standardized testing, which is taking the joy out of learning. I support three-tier licensure and rewarding excellent teachers like National Board Certified teachers.
2. I would consider improving the workers’ compensation system to discourage the abuse of alcohol or illegal substances on the job. If a worker is impaired by prescription medication, however, his or her benefits should not be affected unless the worker and employer had agreed to accommodations with which the worker failed to comply. I would not support reducing or denying benefits to surviving family members of deceased workers when the alcohol-related impairment was not the actual cause of death.
3. I strongly support raising the minimum wage and believe that any increase should be indexed in statute so that we do not have to revisit this issue constantly. We’ve been told that it’s bad for business, but decades of economic research has proven exactly the opposite. Raising the minimum wage will stimulate the economy. Small businesses will have more customers if more people can afford their groceries, gas and daily living expenses. We should support people who work hard and play by the rules.
4. Oppose repeal: 87 percent of voters believe all New Mexico drivers should be licensed, carry insurance and pay taxes. Sixty-four percent believe we should strengthen the law, not remove 80,000 people from our largest law enforcement database and drive them back into the shadows. The governor and Republicans have rejected repeated efforts by House and Senate Democrats to strengthen provisions relating to fraud and abuse. Several other states have now followed New Mexico’s example in issuing licenses to undocumented immigrants.
5. I definitely support the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana. Our public safety dollars are better spent on preventing or dealing with more dangerous crimes. With regard to legalization, I would like to examine the results in Colorado and Washington state before making a final decision. I believe that the voters should be given the opportunity decide this question.
6. I support requiring private sellers to provide background checks for prospective buyers in any venue, including gun shows.
7. New Mexico ended “social promotion” in 2002 when we implemented comprehensive education reform under the Johnson administration. I decry the current governor and secretary-designate of education using young children’s struggles for political purposes. We should be funding serious early intervention efforts to get ALL children reading by third grade, which we have not done. Instead, private companies from out of state are receiving public education dollars to work with SOME schools because of an incomprehensible rating system put in place by the current administration. Public dollars are not being distributed equally to New Mexico students. Children suffer.
8. I support investing in early childhood education by tapping into the permanent fund. It will pay off in countless ways and prove to be a wise investment. Some say we cannot touch the permanent fund because it is a “rainy day” fund. If New Mexico’s bottom ranking in child well-being is not compelling proof that IT IS RAINING, I don’t know what is. We would be smart to act now to save our young children and future generations.
9. No, this would not be allowed by the New Mexico Constitution. Public dollars must be spent for public education. Families now have extensive choices because of our charter school law and the fact that we have open enrollment in New Mexico.
10. Jobs are very important, and New Mexico is lagging nationally and regionally in its economic recovery. However, I would only support such a measure if 1) it could be proven that it would not impose an undue burden on taxpayers or rate payers; and 2) there were safeguards in place to protect such an investment. We need to develop methods to measure the value of our tax expenditures, or we are simply taxing people to give corporations big breaks. New Mexico is one of only a handful of states without a tax expenditure requirement.
11. I support such a requirement, but it doesn’t go far enough. New Mexico needs to overhaul its abuse and neglect system in order to prevent terrible tragedies and child abuse, while dealing with abuse and neglect in ways that helps children, families and communities heal. The current administration does not see prevention of child abuse as part of its mission or responsibility.
12. Yes, I support the expungement of records for people arrested and cleared of criminal charges. Such laws, common in other states, uphold the American system of justice and the principle of “innocent until proven guilty.” In addition, such a law would protect individuals who have been the victim of identity theft.