Candidate’s Responses to Yes-or-No Questions, with Optional Comments
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I fully support the Democratic Party Platform of New Mexico. It is an excellent and exciting platform for our state. I believe there are parts of our platform that our party should devote more energy towards achieving. Specifically the provisions about the environment, immigration, ending the systemic roots causes of poverty, and eliminating dark money from politics should be energetically advanced.
I will absolutely co-sponsor The Green New Deal. I believe we need to push our party to work harder on our values of environmental protection, community health, racial justice, and economic justice. I will work to educate colleagues within my own party, and across the aisle, to see how a Green New Deal that transitions us away from fossil fuels and towards a new energy future will benefit all Americans.
I support a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. I held this position in my 2018 race for Congress. Since then, I have worked on gun safety issues in the state Senate. I co-sponsored and passed the Domestic Violence and Gun Safety bill in 2019, I championed and supported the Emergency Protective Order Bill and the Background check bill in 2019. This year I am carrying the Secure Storage Bill to ensure that guns are safely stored when not under the direct control of the owner or authorized user.
I was the first candidate in 2018 to support Medicare for All. I believe we need it because our current for-profit system has bankrupted working families who have unforeseen medical emergencies. This is coupled with a gross lack of care for the poor and marginalized who seek medical care. I will co-sponsor and champion Medicare for All when I am in Congress because we cannot keep propping up an unnecessary overly bureaucratic for-profit health insurance industry. The work to ensure our people’s health and wellbeing should be collaborative and acknowledge that our collective health is interdependent.
I support statehood for Washington D.C., as a matter of racial justice and fair representation for the overwhelmingly Black residents of the District.
I also support statehood for Puerto Rico, subject to the wishes of its people. As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico has a long history of colonization, and providing the Puerto Rican people with a real choice of citizenship, democratic representation, and full economic support as a State OR as a sovereign nation with strong support from the U.S., is essential to allowing Puerto Ricans to make a decision in an autonomous fashion.
Paid sick leave is a critical public health policy not just in the context of this pandemic, but to eliminate barriers for the working class to access basic health care services and enjoy greater economic security. It also allows victims of crime and domestic violence to go to court without sacrificing their pay.
I believe federal funding for paid sick leave is the best way to even the playing field across the country by supporting small businesses and their employees. It will also help provide economic stability to small businesses and local economies.
Private prisons are incentivized to cut critical services to inmates and create dangerous conditions of understaffing and unqualified personnel, much less provide any rehabilitative services. Their contracts also mandate a minimum number of inmates - further fueling over-policing of marginalized communities.
Privatization of facilities makes it more difficult for inmates to seek recourse for violations of their rights through legal channels, and funnels tax dollars to corporate lobbyists and PACS that further entrench their own power. Dismantling for-profit prisons is the first step in any serious reform of our criminal justice system.
I do not believe the rich should be allowed to have an outsized influence on our politics. The ideas and dedication to one's community should be the leading reason any politician earns support. It should not be about how much you can spend of your own money, nor should it be about how many rich friends you have. I’m grateful for the hundreds of small-dollar donors who have supported my campaign, as they allow me to focus on my Senate work, avoid constantly dialing for dollars, and maintain a strict divide between my public service and campaign.
I will fight to bring resources and jobs to our state every chance I get, including through federal funding for our labs. I do not unconditionally support budget increases to our labs. If it is in the arenas of developing sustainable energy technologies and other needed advancements in science, then I will champion it. If it is for the development of bombs and other weapons of mass destruction, I would need to weigh the absolute need to our nation’s military capabilities against the enormous and unaccountable budget the Pentagon already enjoys.
Women’s healthcare coverage should not discriminate, and the government should not use a constitutional loophole to legislate the morality of specific medical procedures. These decisions are between a woman and her doctor, and personal ethics decisions need to stay in the medical community. I will also support legislation to bar future administrations from imposing the Global Gag Rule on international aid.
Arguments against cancelling debt after people have received their education ignore that policy failures have allowed the costs of college to spiral out of control. We can provide a major economic boost to our country by alleviating the crippling burden of student loan debt. We must also invest in higher education, and control costs to facilitate long-term economic growth and economic opportunity.
Universal, federally-funded child care will alleviate stress on working families and ensure that childcare is never a financial burden. I also believe in creating a universal child care system that is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of childcare models, supports and protects the rights of childcare workers, protects children’s wellbeing, and integrates early childhood education. It’s true that it takes a village to raise a child, and we need to ensure we implement a community-first model. This will help alleviate poverty and help women achieve wage parity.
I support free tuition at all public colleges and universities, and the same for career and technical education. Education is the single greatest tool to develop independent citizens and strong communities. All people should have access to educational opportunities that prepare them for a fulfilling career path and that support their ability to engage as productive, critically-minded, citizens.
I will support federal legislation to legalize recreational cannabis by voting to remove it from the list of scheduled substances to ensure that federal drug enforcement doesn’t conflict with states’ decisions regarding decriminalization. It will permit federally insured banking for the recreational cannabis industry.
Drug enforcement has unjustly targeted communities of color and widened racial disparities. A commitment to racial justice demands sentence relief and expungement for low-level drug offenses. Drug addiction should be regulated as a public health matter, with wide availability of treatment, not punishment, to deal with the destructive effects of dangerous and chemically addictive substances.
The U.S. must not merely comply with its neglected treaty obligations, but must meet the additional health needs of Native communities that face many challenges including systemic poverty, lack of access to adequate services and care, lack of basic infrastructure, legacies of health complications from pollution and lack of quality food, and higher rates of chronic illness and disability. Adequate health care is not simply about access, but must include quality health care. Indian Health Services and expanded services must be provided at levels that are as good or better than urban health care.
I support a path to citizenship and compassionate, humane, and comprehensive immigration reform. We must codify protections for the human rights of immigrants, as demanded by our Constitution and International Law. Future administrations should not be able to attack immigrant communities by executive order. ICE must be dismantled and replaced. ICE has developed a culture of unimpeded cruelty towards immigrants, has attracted radical and violent white supremacists, and is no longer able to credibly detain immigrants. I have seen its abuses first hand. Government and nonprofit reports have confirmed horrendous abuses and systematic violation of their own policies.
I would definitely ask for an environmental impact statement. As we know, Los Alamos has had problems with their nuclear materials handling and safety for decades. We should not fear that wildfires will disperse improperly-buried nuclear material and irradiate other parts of the state through the air. Los Alamos employees should not be sending missile material via FedEx. I will also continuously call for accountability for Triad National Security, LLC, the current operator of the labs.
I would support Representative Khanna’s bill. The U.S. has no legitimate national security interest in supporting Saudie Arabia’s war in Yemen, only the whims of the corrupt previous administration and their arms-dealing corporate donors. Luckily, President Biden has signed an executive order drawing back U.S. involvement, but Congressional action is sorely needed to reign in the executive’s ability to ever support the Saudi war in Yemen, by any means, ever again.
The Pentagon budget is a national travesty. We spend more money annually on the military than any other period of U.S. history outside of wartime. We cannot afford to devote the large majority of discretionary spending to sustaining a military capable of fighting two world wars, as part of an unsound strategy unfit for a nuclear-armed world. Meanwhile, our nation just endured anl attack on our government’s critical computer systems, exposing an unknown amount of critical information to attackers.
I support cutting the Pentagon budget by 10% and investing back into our nation, through social programs and education.
I believe that we must always balance the government’s interest in protecting citizens with our most fundamental Constitutional rights, including the right to privacy and the right against unreasonable search and seizure. ‘Intelligence’ and ‘national security’ are not magical words that circumvent our Constitution’s fine balancing scheme. Congress must stand up for citizens’ rights, and demand accountability from the administration and its intelligence services for illegal and unconstitutional surveillance.
Candidate’s Responses to Questions
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- After I became the first tenured Latina Law Professor at UNM, I became the Director of UNM Law’s Clinical Education program, where I fostered the development of legal clinics serving those with the least access to justice in the legal system, including: the Community Lawyering Clinic, the low income tax clinic, Innocence and Justice Clinic, the Environmental Justice Clinic, and the Southwest Indian Law Clinic. In this work I represented hundreds of marginalized individuals in their legal service needs, while training many law students. I also published what was, at the time, forward thinking pieces on race, gender, Latina/o issues and legal education. Many of those ideas have become accepted and adopted.
- At Enlace Comunitario, I expanded the organization to serve more survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. I became more actively involved in the frontline of political activism in resisting the Trump administration’s racist attacks on these communities. I was active in the areas of immigrant rights, legal services for the poor and domestic violence prevention and service advocacy.
- As a Senator, I introduced legislation to pause new fracking permits until the state could determine the impacts of this extractive process on our air, land, water, and public health. I was able to highlight issues stemming from fracking - including methane and VOC emissions, and the use of scarce freshwater to produce toxic fracking fluid that’s spilled routinely and is effectively unregulated.
- I was one of two democratic legislators to vote against the 2019 Produced Water Act, which gave the oil industry a path to use toxic wastewater for crops and roads, without accountability or provisions for regulatory agencies.
- In a conservative State Senate, I was able to pass a Domestic Violence and Gun Safety Bill and a bill that permits individuals to change their gender on their birth certificates.
- I am the only candidate who has experience running for Congress, a long record of service and deep ties to our community. I have the ability and track record to push the envelope for progressive ideals while also bringing people together to enact meaningful change. I believe that’s why nine of my fellow State Senators have endorsed me - while I will stand strong for my ideals, I also work to bring people on board and I develop collaborative relationships to do the hard work of governing. I also believe that my life experience of overcoming hurdles placed before working-class people, women, and people of color connects my experience to many New Mexicans, and has deepened my commitment to meeting the needs of people often left behind.
- I am proud of my people-powered campaign and so grateful for the community support I have received. I have taken the No Corporate PAC Money pledge, and refuse the influence of dark money organizations that have accelerated the disinformation of society and the corruption of our democratic institutions.
- I have the best name ID in the district of all the candidates, given my 2018 run for congress where I ran a fully funded T.V. media and mail program in my campaign. Polls showed in that 2018 campaign that I was seen as a favorable candidate by over 75% of the voters. And I have regularly been quoted in the press since becoming a state senator, which has kept my name ID high.
- When running to keep my seat in the Senate in 2020, I won with a higher vote total (18,612) and percentage (78%) than all Democratic legislators who ran in contested races in the NM CD1 area.
- I believe we need to end fossil fuel extraction overall in a just and orderly transition. To do that, we need to create a just and economically viable transition towards a clean energy economy with a package of bills like the Green New Deal and stronger environmental controls.
- I support the Biden Administration’s pause on fracking on federal public lands, and I would immediately sponsor or co-sponsor any bill that halts all fossil fuel extraction on public and tribal lands and that authorizes the Secretary of Interior to aggressively protect public and tribal lands from the harm caused by fracking. This includes repealing Section 322(1)(B) of the Energy Production Act of 2005 that prohibits the EPA from regulating hydraulic fracturing, while winding down the issuance of all new permits over a period of 5 years and increasing federal royalties on oil and gas produced on federal lands.
- While the specific issue of control of their lands belongs to tribes, we can help by ensuring that public lands adjacent to their land holdings are free from fracking that despoils their air, land and water. We need to support their stewardship of their lands that are held in trust by the federal government.
I support the package of bills in the Green New Deal to transition our economy from fossil fuels. However, there are some specifics that are integral for the transition:
- Shut down coal-burning plants as quickly as possible and replace them with renewable energy capacity - including solar and offshore wind. Developing sufficient battery storage is crucial to the success of these plans.
- Devote major public resources to research and development of new energy technologies, and ensure that intellectual property developed with public dollars is available for all.
- Invest in building battery storage, and aggressively explore innovative utility-scale storage solutions.
- Invest in building affordable housing with a focus on energy conservation and creating healthy, walkable communities not dependent on automotive transport.
- Increase the EPA budget for enforcement, increase financial penalties for polluters to reflect their long-term harm, and support more stringent air quality controls and standards to ensure polluting plants can’t simply locate near marginalized communities that can be conveniently ignored.
- Tax carbon energy sources.
- Require electrical utilities to allow businesses, municipalities, community energy projects, residential energy producers, and other entities to connect energy projects to the electrical grid at fair rates of payment.
Congress must lift restrictions on the transfer and release of individuals imprisoned at Guantánamo. National security agencies and the military have determined that the majority of men at Guantánamo should be released. Congress should set a short timetable and set up a process for ensuring that the men are transitioned into society or detained in secure facilities after a fair trial in U.S. federal courts, not in the discredited military courts. It is a national embarrassment that the detention center has become an island outside of law and justice.
During the 2020 Session and again in 2021, I introduced a bill that provides more oversight, transparency, and accountability in investigating and prosecuting officers who use excessive force that results in great bodily harm or death.
This is a first important step to increase police accountability at the state level, but could provide an important model for other states.
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act provides a plan to increase police accountability. I will co-sponsor it and champion it. Among other things, it will:
- provide grants to state attorneys general to "create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force" by police forces;
- establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions; limit the application of the qualified immunity for local and state officers;
- require police departments that receive federal grants to prohibit the use of chokeholds and neck restraints;
- and create a federal registry to list officers who have used excessive force.
- The Affordable and Accessible Broadband for All Act (AABA) establishes a plan for increasing broadband Access throughout the rural United States. It contains funding, and requirements for making internet services affordable. I will amend it as necessary to ensure that it includes adequate financing for tribal communities in New Mexico. If the Broadband bill introduced this year passes at the state level, the state will have a Broadband office that will develop a plan to implement the AABA Act wisely and with a focus on providing access for our tribal and rural areas. That is a perfect balance between funding and guidance without micromanagement from the federal government and planning and implementation by the state government. Because of all I have learned in the last two years as a state senator about this huge infrastructure need in our state, I can facilitate a quick and effective increase in broadband access throughout the state and rural areas.
- Congress must assert its prerogative over matters of war, and require a drawdown of troops and military personnel that’s as fast as possible without creating another crisis in the country or region. Congress must be vigilant to ensure that the government does not lie to the American people and their representative leaders. Afghanistan people have suffered greatly and we should ensure that the drawdown is done expeditiously and with careful attention to the safety and security of the Afghan people. We should also ensure that they have the autonomy to choose their own leadership without interference as well as the support they need to rebuild their economy, education and infrastructure.
- I plan to continue my approach of getting to the heart of an issue and offering transformative as well as pragmatic legislative solutions. Some of the bills I introduce may take years to eventually pass, just as the abolishment of the death penalty took Gail Chasey 10 years to pass in the NM legislature. Many more of my bills are much easier for current lawmakers to support. That is why I am endorsed by so many of my colleagues and why I am considered by many as one of the most progressive and effective legislators.
- Thank you for this questionnaire, these questions are comprehensive.