NAME: Elizabeth Thomson
POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
OCCUPATION: Physical Therapist
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: State Representative 2013 to 2015, House Appropriations and Finance and Health, Government and Indian Affairs Committees. Chair-Behavioral Health Subcommittee of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee 2014. Co-Chair Tobacco Revenue Settlement Oversight Committee 2013 to 2014. Member of the NM Developmental Disabilities Planning Council 2007-2012, Chair 2008-2011, Chair of Policy Committee 2007-2008 and 2011-2012: NM Chapter American Physical Therapy Association Board Member 2004-2007-Legislative Committee 2004 to present. Member of the New Mexico Autism Society Board 1994-2012, including eight years as President and two years as Treasurer. EPICS (Education for Parents of Indian Children with Special Needs) Board of Directors 2000 to present-Secretary 2002-2011. Member Board of Directors Disability Rights NM and Health Action NM July 2015 to present.
EDUCATION: Crownpoint High School, University of New Mexico BS-PT
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.lizthomson.org
What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?
Invest in renewable energy, which can be a boon to our economy, bringing good paying jobs as well as helping prevent revenue swings. Invest in quality lifespan education that can bring immediate good paying jobs as well as prepare our children for a bright economic future.
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?
Eliminate waste, fraud and abuse. Everyone must pay their fair share in taxes and economic policies must be reviewed regularly for effectiveness. Any tax breaks designed to stimulate job growth must come with clawback provisions. New Mexico preference must be emphasized. We must also freeze the newest corporate tax cuts.
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?
Oppose. Standardized test scores were designed to measure a child’s own progress in time, not a teacher’s ability. A district court in Santa Fe has placed an injunction on the system because it was found to do measurable harm. This system was developed without input of educators, which is nonsensical.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico?
I am personally undecided on recreational use but support medicinal and believe this should go before voters. Benefits include increased revenues and allowing law enforcement to focus on crime prevention and violent crime, though my concerns regarding the community health impacts of this policy have not yet been fully addressed.
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?
Oppose. Third grade is too late. If interventions are to be successful, they must be undertaken much earlier. There are currently methods in which to hold back a child, if needed, that take into account parent and teacher input, which this system does not; it is based purely on standardized test scores.
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?
This is a must if New Mexico is to rise from the bottom of many lists. The most important time for learning is before age 5. Careful management of the funds is needed but cannot wait any longer. Accountability is important in this and all state-funded programs.
Would you support or oppose the creation of a state ethics commission that publicly releases complaints and holds open hearings?
Support. Legislation must be very carefully crafted to not allow loopholes and to ensure that there is no partisan or retaliatory taint. I would like to see it apply to statewide, legislative, county, local and other positions. Meaningful enforcement and punishment must be an integral part of the process.
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?
Oppose and it’s important to note that under current law, no one can be forced to join a union. There are no proven benefits to becoming a right-to-work state, but there are drawbacks, including lower wages by an average of $5,000.
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?
This is a very personal issue. It seems inhumane to force someone to continue suffering needlessly when there is no hope for recovery, but there are ethical issues to consider. With very tight criteria to prevent misuse, I would support such legislation.
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?
Oppose. A person must decide if they want to work or be retired, but not both at the same time at taxpayer expense. It is not fair to others who do not have that option. It is also demoralizing for other officers and decreases opportunities for advancement for younger officers.
Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I support the ability of those not affiliated with a major party to vote in primaries as their tax dollars help to pay for the elections.
How should the state’s lottery scholarship program be kept solvent into the future?
The scholarship must remain available and tuition must remain affordable. This is a difficult issue in need of comprehensive solutions and we should consider many options including a pay-it-forward program, where a student pays back into the fund after they are employed, based on their income.
Does the state need to toughen its DWI laws? If so, how?
Yes. I will again try to pass a bill tying removal of an interlock device to behavior instead of just the passage of time. Any discussion of DWI must also look at the frequently underlying problem of alcoholism and the lack of treatment available in this state.
Do you support or oppose opening all legislative meetings in connection with the budget to the public?
I am 100 percent in favor of full transparency of all legislative meetings, including webcasting and archiving of all such meetings.
Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour? If so, by how much?
We must raise the minimum wage as it has not even begun to keep pace with inflation. I am in favor of a phased-in $15 minimum wage which will lift many families out of poverty and shift costs of healthcare and other costs off of taxpayers.
Do you support or oppose reinstating capital punishment in New Mexico for specific crimes like killing a child or killing a law enforcement officer?
While I am outraged by recent events, this is not the answer. It is insanely expensive, which the state cannot afford. It has not proven to be a deterrent to criminals. Many wrongful convictions make it untenable. The Legislature needs to be focused on fixing the economic disaster.
Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
Yes. In the past, I contracted with education agencies. My work was on Native American lands, where gross receipts taxes were not owed. The tax liens were incorrectly placed for taxes I did not owe. I wrote numerous letters, as did the agencies, but it took time to get resolved.
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.