Incumbent Paul Pacheco, a Republican, faces Democrat Catherine A. Begaye, of Albuquerque, in the race for House District 23, which runs along the west side of the Rio Grande from Corrales to the Montaño Road area and includes two precincts in southeastern Rio Rancho.
Pacheco, a retired Albuquerque police officer, was elected in 2012. Begaye, who is an attorney, is seeking political office for the first time.
Each candidate was asked to provide biographical information and to answer these questions:
1. What do you believe is the most pressing need in your district that could be addressed with legislative help?
2. What are your priorities for capital outlay funding and why?
3. What is your view on water availability in New Mexico, and what would you like to see done in that area?
4. Do you favor the tax cuts and reforms that have been adopted the past few years to attract more business and industry to New Mexico? Is there a better approach?
5. Do you believe the state is taking the right steps to improve schools and student achievement in New Mexico? What would you do differently?
6. What is your view of bipartisanship in the Legislature and what assurance can you give that you will work for what’s best for New Mexico, even if it means crossing party lines?
7. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
8. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
9. 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?
Catherine A. Begaye
Party affiliation: Democrat
Education: Bachelor of arts (biology and sociology — double major) and juris doctor from the University of New Mexico.
Family: I am the oldest of three siblings. My mother raised us after my father died when I was a child. My brother is a career Marine stationed in Hawaii. My sister lives in New Mexico. I have two nephews.
Political/government experience: I have never run for political office before. I have worked with our state agencies and branches of government during my work as an attorney.
Major professional accomplishment: Opening my own law firm and being a small business owner has been a major professional accomplishment. It was a career goal I had been seeking for several years, and the conditions were right to start my small business. I have never looked back. Having my own firm allows me to dedicate my time and efforts to the causes I am passionate about serving.
Major personal accomplishment: I have hiked to the top of Mount Taylor, the La Luz trail of the Sandia Mountains, to Nambe Lake in the Santa Fe Mountains, down to the Rio Grande north of Taos, and so many other amazing trails in New Mexico and beyond. Hiking is therapeutic. It takes me away from the courtroom and into a beautiful and scenic theater that re-energizes me.
1. We must fully fund our education system from pre-K to college. The last few years have seen devastating cuts to education and our economy is paying the price. When our workforce is less educated, businesses do not want to invest in our community. I will work to restore $60 million a year to fund early childhood education. Businesses in this district need a better educated workforce so that they hire, instead of lay off, workers.
2. Capital outlay funds are critical to our communities. Unlike my opponent, I believe it prudent to fund those projects that benefit the people of District 23. With an aging population, senior centers are important to keep our seniors involved with community activities. So are walking trails, safe outdoor play equipment, community gardens and public transportation. Making District 23 safer and a more pleasant place to live are a benefit to all of us who live here.
3. Water is scarce in New Mexico. Rio Rancho’s aquifer is running low while Albuquerque’s aquifers are in danger of contamination from the Kirtland jet fuel spill. With new industry and new homes in Rio Rancho comes more demand for water, and we must think years into the future when planning for water use.
4. Too often, we squander our limited resources to try to attract businesses to New Mexico only to be undermined by other social factors that we have not addressed — poverty, crime, drug abuse, and an uneducated workforce. I support training programs that support an industry we want to attract. An example would be the film industry training programs and film production incentives.
5. We are on the wrong track with regard to education. Under this administration’s PED, teachers are test-givers not educators. That must change. Additionally, the Legislature proposed restoring $60 million to fund early childhood education, but unfortunately partisan politics got in the way. My opponent’s vote against early childhood education funding is the most glaring example of why he does not understand the interaction between government and education.
6. District 23 is a diverse one that falls within senate districts represented by Republicans as well as Democrats. No party has a monopoly on good ideas and I will support legislation that will improve education in our state and increase jobs.
9. I have been cited for parking violations (expired meters and parking near a loading zone). I have also been charged with driving on a revoked or suspended license and not showing proof of my insurance upon request, occurring on the same day. Upon showing proof that my license was valid and proof of my valid insurance, the cases were dismissed. I have never been accused of, charged with, or arrested for drunken driving or any felony. I have never been arrested.
Party affiliation: Republican
Residence: Albuquerque’s West Side
Education: Valley High School, class of 1982; Albuquerque Police Academy, 55th cadet class.
Occupation: Retired police officer, Albuquerque Police Department; state representative, District 23.
Family: Wife, Tami; daughters, Reneé and Chloé; and son, Taylor.
Political/government experience: New Mexico House of Representatives, 2012–present; president of Albuquerque Police Officers Association.
Major professional accomplishment: Left unanswered
Major personal accomplishment: Raising my family in the community I was born and raised and now having the honor of representing in the state Legislature.
1. As throughout the state, the need for meaningful tax reform for not only easing the stress on our wallets, but to enable job creation, is pressing. Our community is under a tremendous amount of pressure as the cost of living continues to rise while our economy continues to recover from the recession. We must work toward common-sense policies that would enable our small businesses to thrive while at the same time, attracting new businesses.
2. As our state ages, so does our infrastructure. During my time in the Legislature, I have fought to secure funding for critical infrastructure upgrades. I have worked to supply our community with flood relief through the Lomitas Negras Water Quality Structure, protecting homes and businesses throughout the community from monsoon flooding. I have worked to ensure our public safety infrastructure is sound, allowing first-responders the ability to answer calls from throughout the community.
3. As a desert state, we must be sure we are responsible for how we use this precious resource. This must include plans for responsible growth and water-saving efforts in both the home and in public places, such as rebates for the purchase of sustainable appliances and incentives to encourage limiting unnecessary water usage. When it comes to water conservation, community education is key to ensuring Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Corrales are good stewards of this resource.
4. We must make New Mexico business friendly. This goal will not be accomplished with one strategy, such as tax cuts. It can be accomplished through a diverse policy of tax cuts and credits, coupled with improving our state’s education system and ensuring our infrastructure is sound. Tax cuts alone will not bring new job-creating businesses to New Mexico, but a long-term economic strategy that encompasses a variety of tactics will ensure we become economically sound.
5. Last legislative session I voted for the single largest education budget in the state’s history, ensuring our teachers receive the funding the need in order to provide our kids with the best education possible. We must create a system in which we can accurately evaluate and reward high-performing teachers while ensuring we enable parents the ability to be more involved in the classroom. To improve this system will take parents and teachers working together.
6. Since my election to the state Legislature, I have committed myself to stripping any semblance of politics and govern for the people of New Mexico. As elected officials, it is critical we live up to the trust placed upon us by our community. People are tired of politics; people want safe communities, lower taxes and a good education for their children, not politicians aligning themselves for the next election.
8. In 2003, I partnered with a group to bring an indoor soccer league to New Mexico. Like countless small-business owners throughout the state, we were sadly forced to close the doors and declare bankruptcy.