NAME: Benny Shendo
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Business Consultant
RESIDENCE: Jemez Pueblo
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Current State Senator, District 22, 2012 -Present;
President & CEO, Pueblo Insurance Agency, 2013-2015;
Cabinet Secretary, Department of Indian Affairs, State of New Mexico, 2004-2007;
VP Business Development, Notah Begay III Consulting, 2009-Present;
Senior Manager of Native American Programs at the University of New Mexico, 1997-2004;
1st t Lt. Governor, Pueblo of Jemez, 2002, 2009;
Co-founder, an Diego Riverside Charter School, Jemez Pueblo, 1999;
2nd Lt. Governor, Pueblo of Jemez, 1998;
Assistant Dean of Students, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA, 1994-1997
EDUCATION: College of Law, University of Colorado Boulder, 1988-89;
Bachelor of Science in Business, University of Colorado, 1987;
Colorado College, attended 1982-1983; St. Catherine’s Indian School, Santa Fe.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: bennyfornm.com
1. In my time as senator I have always been supportive of trimming wasteful spending. We need to end tax incentives that have no sunset clause and close loopholes that make it easy for out of state companies to avoid paying state taxes. All options for generating revenue need to be on the table.
2. I support increasing the minimum wage statewide to $10.10. Currently, the cities of Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces all have wages higher than the state minimum. We need to ensure that workers in rural areas of the state have the same opportunity to make a living.
3. I oppose the current policy. As a state we must focus more on teaching our young people rather than teaching to the test. As a grandfather I think that we need to do away with the excessive testing of children and spend more time on teaching the fundamentals.
4. We need to look to other states that have decriminalized recreational use of marijuana. If the data shows that we can safely decriminalize its use then I believe it’s something that the voters of our state should decide at the ballot box.
5. I oppose automatic retention. The data shows that retention harms children and increases the likelihood of dropping out later. We need to spend more resources on early childhood education and access to intervention particularly in bilingual communities. Automatic retention takes control of education away from parents and teachers.
6. The Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) was established to support education. This huge fund increases by approximately 11% every year. We currently only draw down around 6% for higher education. We desperately need to tap this resource for early childhood education and I support a small annual allocation from this fund.
7. I would support an ethics commission. We need to have more accountability and oversight in state government. We have made some progress by instituting the sunshine portal but we need to have a commission that investigates allegations of impropriety.
8. I oppose so-called right-to-work legislation. The advocates of this legislation are actually attempting to bust unions and undo worker protections like the right to collectively bargain. Unions advocate for both union and non-union members in their negotiations with employers and that needs to be protected.
9. I support a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices. I was raised in a family of strong women and come from a culture that values matriarchal leadership. As a man it is not for me to decide or legislate another person’s body or choices.
10. As Senator I voted to ban coyote killing contests in 2015. Unfortunately this bill failed in last year’s session. I would also be open to banning the use of poison on public lands. Not only is it a painful way for an animal to die but it could be ingested by non-target species.
11. I would be open to updating the current law with data from other states. This issue is complex and emotionally charged, but our focus should be on providing compassionate care for those with terminal illness.
12. I support putting a portion of the gasoline tax revenue into state road projects. Even a fraction of a cent would allow the state to rehabilitate roads that have been in disrepair for years.
13. I would be cautious about allowing retired state law enforcement employees to collect pensions while going back to their old positions. We need to increase our efforts to recruit new talent to our state. We also need to ensure that the retirement fund in our state is solvent now and in the future.
14. I think we need to look closely at open primaries. Many Independent and no-party voters are limited to voting in general elections. I think that by including these voters in primary elections we encourage political participation and encourage a more meaningful dialogue.
15. I am cautious about any legislation that takes sentencing discretion away from judges. We now know that mandatory minimums have done terrible harm in minority communities and I think we need to preserve a judge’s control over sentencing.
16. I support this legislation. There could be the perception of impropriety when a former lawmaker immediately becomes a lobbyist for an issue or organization. This cooling-off period makes sense and is the ethical thing to do.
17. I don’t agree that we should impose curfews. I think that this attempt to criminalize our youth is misguided. If we are serious about addressing crime in our communities we need to focus on education, job creation and rehabilitation.
18. I would support archiving webcasts. Webcasting is already available as a live-stream and there is no reason why we shouldn’t record and preserve these meetings. Meeting minutes could be preserved digitally this way and provide another opportunity for transparency in government.
19. I would support a small salary for legislators. One of the largest barriers to public service is the fact that our legislators are unpaid. This makes running for office an impossibility for most working people. With a modest salary we can encourage more citizens to run for office.
20. Public employees and teachers are citizens of our state. Our state law is defined as a citizen legislature. I believe that teachers should be encouraged to serve in the House and Senate. We can benefit from having individuals that are working with our youth and families in the state government.