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NAME: Candie Sweetser
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Deming
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Voter; Have reported on NM and local politics for over 30 years; former board member of NM Foundation for Open Government
EDUCATION: Master of Arts in Communication Studies from New Mexico State University
Bachelor of Science in Radio/TV from Eastern New Mexico University
Cibola High School – Albuquerque
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.candiesweetser.com
- What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?
The short answer is that we must stimulate the state’s economy, and that will involve increasing revenue and cutting wasteful spending. We have to diversify and look for reliable revenue streams rather than placing the state’s future almost entirely on the volatile oil and gas industry.
- If the state’s revenue downturn persists, would you favor trimming state spending or increasing taxes as a primary response? Which cost-cutting or revenue-generating measures would you prefer?
Both trimming state spending and increasing taxes are going to have to be examined carefully. The reality is that our state’s dependence on oil and gas revenue is no longer a practical solution to dealing with the state’s budget.
- Do you support or oppose the current policy of including student test scores as part of teacher evaluations? If you support the policy, what percentage of the evaluation should the test scores account for?
If student test scores are part of teacher evaluations, they must only be a small part as a means to create an overall picture of teacher competency. We want our best teachers available to teach struggling students, and we shouldn’t penalize teachers who are working with lower-achieving students.
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico?
There are certainly valid arguments on both sides of this issue, but the fundamental problem is that federal law prevails. With the strong presence of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials in Southwestern New Mexico, I see nothing but conflict should the state legalize something that remains a federal crime.
- Current state law requires early-grade reading intervention. Coupled with that, do you support or oppose legislation that would automatically require some third-graders without adequate reading skills to repeat the grade level?
My hope is that reading issues would be caught prior to third grade. If they are not, I believe teachers need to work with the student and his or her parent/guardian to determine if retention, additional classroom hours or specialized instructional work with tutoring would be best for the student.
- To provide more money for early childhood programs, which are unspecified, do you support or oppose taking more money out of the state’s largest permanent fund on an annual basis? If you are in support, what sort of accountability measures would you favor?
Early childhood education is important, but we must find the resources within our existing budget. It would be a mistake to jeopardize the future of the permanent fund.
- Would you support or oppose the creation of a state ethics commission that publicly releases complaints and holds open hearings?
I would support the creation of a state ethics commission. We are conducting the people’s business, and they deserve to know what we are doing.
- Do you support or oppose making New Mexico a so-called right-to-work state, by changing state labor laws so that nonunion employees would not have to pay union fees as a condition of employment?
From what I understand, this issue is misleading. I believe people have a right to opt out of union membership. However, if they are benefitting from union negotiations and representation in grievance and disciplinary proceedings, I feel it is reasonable that people pay a fair-share amount for their benefits.
- Do you support or oppose updating the current prohibition in the law on assisted suicide in order to allow aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances?
I am a strong believer in hospice and dying with dignity, but assisted suicide would seem to be counter to the Hippocratic Oath and commitment of the medical community.
- Do you support or oppose allowing retired law enforcement officers to return to work while still collecting pension benefits to shore up department staffing, if the program does not negatively impact the solvency of the retirement fund?
With the caveat of not negatively impacting the retirement fund’s solvency, I would support allowing retired officers to return to work to fill shortages. I would encourage departments to work on recruiting non-retirees, however, to aid in the development of a more viable work force and help with unemployment.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I support allowing independent and third-party voters the opportunity to vote in primary elections.
- How should the state’s lottery scholarship program be kept solvent into the future?
I think we need to address escalating higher education costs as well as examine the minimum requirements for the program.
- Does the state need to toughen its DWI laws? If so, how?
Since New Mexico has some of the most stringent DWI laws in the nation, I think we need to make certain the laws currently on the books are adequately enforced and adjudicated.
- Do you support or oppose opening all legislative meetings in connection with the budget to the public?
I support opening all legislative meetings to the public.
- Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour? If so, by how much?
I believe the minimum wage issue needs to be addressed federally to level the playing ground among states. It would be a shame to drive industry away from New Mexico because surrounding states have lower minimum wages.
- Do you support or oppose reinstating capital punishment in New Mexico for specific crimes like killing a child or killing a law enforcement officer?
It is time to look at reinstating the death penalty – especially in light of the horrific murder of 10-year-old Victoria Martens and the senseless slaying of Hatch Police Officer Jose Chavez. There is no question we must find justice for these victims and the victims of other heinous crimes.
- Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
- Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
- 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.