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Senate District 38 (D) – Mary Kay Papen (i)

NAME: Mary Kay Papen (i)

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic Party

OCCUPATION: Retired Car Dealer and Realtor


Mary Kay Papen

Mary Kay Papen

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former business owner; volunteer and board member for various non-profits including La Casa domestic violence shelter, St Lukes health clinic, and First Step health clinic; advocate for behavioral health care.

EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science from New Mexico State University



What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?

We need to create jobs in New Mexico. As co-creator of the Jobs Council, I am already working toward that goal. Two things that will help are to: 1. review our tax structure, re-evaluate all of the tax credits and ensure our tax structure works for New Mexico; and 2.  work with colleges to provide workers with the skills that today’s employers are seeking.

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?

We would need to look at the overall picture. We will need to make tough decisions that may include both trimming spending and increasing revenues. We need a balanced approach to cutting costs and generating revenues. We need to diversify our economy so we do not rely on one or two industries.

Do you support or oppose the current policy of including student test scores as part of teacher evaluations?

I oppose the current policy. Test scores should be one tool to assist teachers in evaluating the needs of their students. Qualified administrators can use these scores to assist teachers, but the current policy alters the purpose of the test and diminishes the teacher’s ability to engage the child in learning.

Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico?

No, I do not support legalizing recreational marijuana. I have seen the negative effect marijuana has had on my grandson who lives with a mental illness.

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?

I believe in early detection of learning disabilities and early intervention in a child’s learning process. Holding a student back should be a last resort, and the decision should include the parents and the education professionals.

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?

I do not support depleting the corpus of the permanent fund. I believe in using the interest from the fund for programs and I am supportive of increasing the amount of money invested in early childhood programs as long as we do not touch the principal in the fund.

Would you support or oppose the creation of a state ethics commission that publicly releases complaints and holds open hearings?

The idea of an ethics commission is good. However, we must ensure that the rules we put in place today are sustainable for the future and ensure the commission itself acts ethically and that the complaints or hearings are not used as political tools.

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?

Employees should be able to work where they choose. I would have to see the details of the legislation before supporting or opposing the measure.

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 believe more dialogue is needed in developing this policy. We need to have a good policy that respects all individuals and their right to make end-of-life decisions.

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?

The qualifier for me is that the policy does not impact the solvency of the pension fund for others relying on the fund.

Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I believe in everybody’s right to vote. I would need more information about how open primaries would be structured in New Mexico before taking a position on this issue.

How should the state’s lottery scholarship program be kept solvent into the future?

The lottery scholarship is a great program offered to our students. I would like to see the program be set up in a way that rewards students who stay in school and graduate.

Does the state need to toughen its DWI laws? If so, how?

We currently have very tough DWI laws on our books. We need to make sure these laws are enforced. I also believe in supporting proven DWI prevention and treatment programs.

Do you support or oppose opening all legislative meetings in connection with the budget to the public?

I believe the budget process should be transparent, but I do also recognize there are times when executive sessions are necessary. Sometimes in negotiations sensitive information may need to be discussed. These executive sessions should be used wisely and judiciously.

Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour? If so, by how much?

I have voted in favor of wage increases, however, I believe working to create higher-wage jobs is the best solution. Working to ensure our workers have the skills to move out of minimum-wage jobs and having those jobs available are preferable to raising the minimum wage alone.

Do you support or oppose reinstating capital punishment in New Mexico for specific crimes like killing a child or killing a law enforcement officer?

I have opposed the death penalty in the past for a number of reasons, which I strongly believe are still valid. The greatest deterrent to crime, violent or otherwise, is knowing you will be caught. The punishment carries little weight if a criminal has little chance of being caught.


Personal background

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?

No .