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Q&A: Senate District 17 (D) – Mimi Stewart

mimi_stewartFOR THE RECORD: The candidate’s response to question 10 has been corrected in this bio.

NAME: Mimi Stewart

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Retired public school teacher. Resource teacher at Albuquerque Public Schools, 2003-2010; Early Childhood Liaison, APS, 1998-2003; Elementary Special Education Teacher, APS, 1978-1998; Co-teacher at Cambridge-Somerville Mental Health Pre-school Unit, 1976-1978; waitress for 6 years, putting myself through college, Cambridge, MA, 1967-1973.

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RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: New Mexico House of Representatives, 1995 to 2015; New Mexico state Senate 2015-present; Planning chair, State Job Training Coordinating Council, 1991-1996; Insurance Fraud Bureau, Advisory Board, 2000-2003; SW International Dyslexia Association, Advisory Board, 2000-present.

EDUCATION: BA from Boston University, 1973, Sociology & History, cum laude; MS from Wheelock College, Boston, MA, 1977, in Education; 45 post graduate credit hours from UNM, 1980-1990 in Educational Assessments & Diagnostics, Art, Dance, Spanish.

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: mimistewart.org

1. Years of funding cuts have hurt school kids, healthcare and higher education. Employers want a healthy, well-educated workforce. Two revenue sources: Reconsider corporate tax breaks that failed to produce jobs; reinstitute a progressive tax structure so millionaires don’t get off paying the same rate as families living on poverty wage.

2. I support raising the minimum wage (as does over 70 percent of the public), indexing over a few years to reach $15 an hour. The current $7.25 national wage is a disgrace – everyone deserves a living wage for a day’s work. Santa Fe and Albuquerque have been in the forefront of this nationwide movement.

3. Student achievement has always been, and should be, part of teacher evaluations. However, the Martinez administration’s misguided scheme of basing evaluations on a single high-stakes test is unfair, unworkable and inequitable. It is driving teachers and principals to leave education. New federal regulations will allow us to abandon this ill-conceived course.

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4. I support legalizing marijuana if we regulate and tax the production and sale to ensure that young people don’t have access. Additionally, research on marijuana might provide more medical miracles like we are now seeing with untreatable juvenile epilepsy, where cannabinoid oil has stopped seizures.

5. Third-grade retention is currently an allowable practice with the decision being made by teachers and counselors in consultation with parents. This is the proper approach. However, when government issues blanket mandates in matters like this, too many mistakes are the result and individual circumstances are not taken into account.

6. Increasing Permanent Fund distributions for early childhood should go to the voters to decide. We have been expanding early education through pre-K and K-3 Plus, with a corresponding focus on quality and accountability, but only about 40 percent of our 3-4 year olds attend preschool. Getting children ready to excel in school should be a priority.

7. I’ve sponsored several ethics commission bills. Such legislation is vitally important and I support an ethics process that is carefully designed. The goal is to create a commission that ensures government officials are held strictly accountable. A badly conceived process would quickly turn into a vehicle for time-wasting partisan witchhunts.

8. Shame on the media for not telling the truth about so-called “right-to-work.” States with this law generally have lower salaries, fewer benefits for workers, and less economic activity. Large businesses moved out of Wisconsin after they passed right-to-work. A court subsequently ruled it unconstitutional.

9. Government needs to stay out of women’s decisions concerning their reproductive health care. Abortions after 20 weeks are very rare and extremely serious, usually involving life-threatening circumstances for the mother.

10. Support.

11. Support.

12. A portion of excise tax and gasoline tax revenue is currently earmarked for state road projects. This is important infrastructure. However, most state agencies lack adequate funding to meet more critical public needs. Our schools and public safety have been hit hard by cuts. Revenue is required and public needs prioritized.

13. Retirement systems should be for retirement, not to shore up local governments who won’t dedicate money for needed salaries or training. The average age and retirement for municipal police is 47 years at $41,000. If they would just work 5 to 10 more years, their retirement would be significantly higher.

14. Oppose. Anyone wishing to vote in a specific party primary currently has that option readily available. Registration by party can be done as late as 30 days prior to a primary election.

15. I would support expansion of the three-strike laws but only for violent offenses with great bodily harm.

16. Support.

17. Oppose. Teen curfew laws have been struck down by the courts in five states as unconstitutional. Curfew laws are unenforceable, put children at risk for having problematic confrontations with law enforcement, and damage community relationships between families and police.

18. Support.

19. Support.

20. Why would we silence the voices that serve the public? As an educator in the Legislature for the past 22 years, I am often one of very few that understands our public education system. If we are going to silence teachers, public defenders, social workers and more, we will become a government of the few, by the few, for the few.

Personal information

1. No.

2. No.

3. Seventeen years ago, I was arrested for driving under the influence. I took full responsibility for my mistake and asked for no special treatment. My continued support for tough DWI laws is unwavering.

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