Making Democracy Work

Los Alamos Voter Guide 2016: State-wide Candidates

Voter Guide: State-wide Candidates for the 2016 election

U.S. House of Representatives¸ District 3 Candidates

Candidates must be at least 25 years old, a United States citizen of seven years, and a resident of New Mexico. The United States House of Representatives has 435 members of which New Mexico is entitled to three. They serve two-year terms. District 3 includes Los Alamos, Santa Fe, and most of the northern part of the state.

Michael H. Romero (Republican)

No Response Received

Ben R. Lujan (Democrat)

1. Does Congress have a responsibility to address the impact of economic insecurity/poverty and racial/ethnic inequities? If so, what action would you support? Please explain.

Every hard-working American of every race, background, and economic status should have the opportunity to get ahead and stay ahead. One critical step is to provide a quality education to all children, particularly early education, that can open up the doors of opportunity and start them on the right path during their earliest years.

2. What changes, if any, would you support in US immigration policy? Please address treatment of undocumented immigrants.

I support bipartisan comprehensive immigration reform. It is tough but fair, includes a path to citizenship and requires immigrants to pay back taxes and learn English. According to the Congressional Budget Office, reform would reduce the deficit by $900 billion. Comprehensive reform is good for our economy and our security, while reflecting contributions immigrants make to our country.

3. What actions, if any, should Congress take to address the influence of money in politics?

Overturn Citizens United. I am fighting to reduce the influence of special-interest money in our campaign system. I cosponsored legislation to address the impact of Citizens United that opened the floodgates of secret money, including the DISCLOSE Act to increase public reporting of campaign related activity and a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United. I also introduced legislation to make political ad buy more accessible.

4. What would you do to ensure that every eligible American's right to vote is protected?

While times have changed since the Voting Rights Act was passed 50 years ago, voter disenfranchisement remains a challenge today. Tactics including voter ID laws, purging people from the rolls, and restricting hours and registration have made it harder to vote. Passing the Voter Rights Advancement Act will protect vulnerable communities from discriminatory practices and provide oversight for jurisdictions with a record of voter suppression.

5. What would you do to improve health insurance coverage in the U.S.?

The Affordable Care Act increased access to health care for millions of Americans, reducing the uninsured rate in New Mexico from 20.1 percent in 2013 to 12.8 percent last year. Lifetime and annual limits on insurance coverage have been eliminate and people with pre-existing conditions cannot be dropped or denied coverage. Congress should build on this law, taking steps to improve upon it where needed.

Secretary of State Candidates

The Secretary of State serves a four-year term with no more than two terms in succession. A candidate must be at least 30 years old, be a citizen of the United States, and have resided continuously in New Mexico for five years preceding his/her election. The Secretary of State is second in line of succession to the governorship behind the Lieutenant Governor. The Secretary of State attests and affixes the state seal to official documents, maintains the state repository of signed legislation and required filings, is the chief election officer, and generally supervises statewide elections. The Secretary of State is responsible for the registration of corporations, partnerships, lobbyists, trade names, trademarks, and notary public commissions.

Nora Espinoza (Republican)

1. Would you support any changes to New Mexico's voting procedures, such as Same Day Voter Registration, mail-in voting, or requiring photo IDs at the polls? Please explain.

Support Voter ID, with free IDs to those who don't have one. Albuquerque has had it for ten years, with zero complaints. The US is about the only country in the world without Voter ID. I oppose Same-Day Voter Registration. It allows non-New Mexicans to pass through on Election Day, register, vote, and leave the state. Once that vote is cast it cannot be un-counted.

2. What actions would you take to increase voter registrations? Would you favor an "opt out" system at motor vehicle departments where eligible citizens are automatically registered to vote? If not, why not?

Registration is extremely easy and can be done on-line at any time. The only thing preventing someone from registering to vote is not wanting to register. I oppose automatic registration because legal non-citizens, temporary visa holders, and certain felons are all eligible to apply for driver's licenses, but are ineligible to vote. Registering them "automatically," combined with the lack of Voter ID, decreases electoral integrity.

3. What changes, if any, would you support in campaign finance reporting?

Our law is unenforceable due to three key federal court decisions in 2009, 2010 and 2012. We must have bright-line provisions that clearly define who must report and what has to be disclosed--including the dark money participants, such as George Soros, who funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to candidates like my opponent, using multiple "shell" PACs. I support legislation to address these deficiencies.

4. How have your abilities and experience prepared you for the duties of this office?

My background as a businesswoman and legislator taught me the distinction between legislative discretion and administrative duties. My opponent, who's a professional political consultant, indicates she'll use the SOS position to impose her ideas. That's wrong. The office is administrative. The SOS must follow the law--not attempt to create law. The SOS must ensure elections integrity without favoring any one group over any other.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver (Democrat)

1. Would you support any changes to New Mexico's voting procedures, such as Same Day Voter Registration, mail-in voting, or requiring photo IDs at the polls? Please explain.

I support same-day registration as long as ballots are verified for eligibility before they are officially counted. I would also like to expand mail-in voting in New Mexico. I support our current voter identification laws and any legislation that improves the security and integrity of our elections, but not at the expense of diminishing access to the polls or restricting the right to vote.

2. What actions would you take to increase voter registrations? Would you favor an "opt out" system at motor vehicle departments where eligible citizens are automatically registered to vote? If not, why not?

I fully support an easier, more accessible registration process including Automatic Voter Registration linked to the MVD/online voter registration system. I support this concept whether the opt-out option is available at the time of registration or afterward. Once the majority of citizens are automatically registered, other resources can be dedicated to helping those who do not have contact with the MVD register to vote.

3. What changes, if any, would you support in campaign finance reporting?

There are too many gaps in current systems. I will write rules that are easy to comply with so that information is reported in a way that the public can easily understand, and see the relationships between candidates and donors. I will work with legislators to make changes that require the highest levels of disclosure for every dollar spent in support or opposition of candidates.

4. How have your abilities and experience prepared you for the duties of this office?

As Bernalillo Clerk since 2007, I've made protecting the right to vote, improving the integrity of elections and ensuring accountable leadership top priorities. My 9.5+ years of experience running elections in the largest county in the state, combined with my work toward ensuring accountability and transparency in my office, and elections, have prepared me to make much-needed changes in the Secretary of State's office.

New Mexico State Senator Candidates

There are 42 members in the N.M. Senate. All seats will be filled in the 2016 General Election. Senators are elected for four-year terms. Los Alamos is split into two Senate Districts, neither of which is contested in the November 2016 election.

Richard C. Martinez, District 5 (Democrat)

Unopposed

Senate District 5 includes all of the Los Alamos townsite.

Carlos R. Cisneros, District 6 (Democrat)

Unopposed

Senate District 6 includes all of White Rock.

NM House of Representatives, 43rd District Candidates

In addition to other duties prescribed by law, the person in this legislative office, together with other representatives, enacts "reasonable and appropriate laws," represents the constituents of his or her district, and serves on standing or interim committees. The legislature meets each year beginning in January. In odd-numbered years, it meets for 60 days; in even-numbered years, it meets for 30 days. The Governor may call special sessions. Candidates must be at least 21 years old and must be a resident of the district from which elected. They serve a two-year term. The 43rd District includes Los Alamos and parts of Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties.

Sharon Stover (Republican)

1. According to the Legislative Finance Committee, state government needs are expected to outstrip projected revenue by an average of $120 million a year between FY18 and FY20. How would you address this situation?

NM must diversify its economy so jobs and revenues are less dependent on federal spending or the oil & gas industry. We should prioritize needs, increase government efficiency, and enact tax reform to close loopholes. Tax hikes could compromise our competitive position with neighboring states and stress an already fragile economy. Draining permanent funds reduces future income and sets a dangerous precedent.

2. What do you feel are the major problems in education in New Mexico? How can they be addressed?

Policymakers should align educational goals with the state's economic vision. We should reward local educators for creating educational environments to support those goals while providing flexibility to meet the needs of students, recognizing family, cultural, and economic challenges. We must embrace innovative ideas. NM has the worst dropout rate in the country. We should adopt truancy intervention strategies to support kids towards graduation.

3. Should the legislature promote renewable energy in NM? If so, how? If not, why not?

NM needs an "all of the above" energy strategy. The oil and gas industry remains critical to our state's economy. Renewable and nuclear power are resources for our future. Research at our national labs can be applied to private sector development to build a 21st-century energy infrastructure resulting in job and wealth creation. The state can help promote collaboration between the labs and private industry.

4. What should the state legislature do to improve the economy in New Mexico and ensure job growth?

NM lags far behind other states in the region. Many state government processes can be modernized to be more business-friendly and transparent. Our gross receipts tax should be simplified. Capital funds should be invested strategically in prioritized infrastructure projects to support economic growth. The cost-of-business in NM is expensive. We should bring our worker's compensation and tort laws more in line with neighboring states.

Stephanie Garcia Richard (Democrat)

1. According to the Legislative Finance Committee, state government needs are expected to outstrip projected revenue by an average of $120 million a year between FY18 and FY20. How would you address this situation?

There are no easy choices. With the exception of cutting public education funding, I believe every action that could potentially bring us closer to solvency will have to be on the table. That includes cuts, ensuring businesses pay their fair share and using Tobacco Settlement Funds. In these tough budgetary times, we must be smart about investing the limited resources we have in proven programs.

2. What do you feel are the major problems in education in New Mexico? How can they be addressed?

Economic development has stalled in large part due to an untrained and uneducated workforce, yet research has shown that investments in early childhood education have the greatest impact. The lack of critical funding for our public schools have left them crumbling and cost our children the ability to read. Teachers shouldn't have to teach to the test. It is time to end high stakes testing.

3. Should the legislature promote renewable energy in NM? If so, how? If not, why not?

Yes. I was proud to support efforts to extend the renewable energy tax credit and believe green energy is one of the many ways to spur economic development in New Mexico. With oil costs wavering and coal plants closing, it is time to invest and incentivize renewable energy.

4. What should the state legislature do to improve the economy in New Mexico and ensure job growth?

I was proud to sponsor and pass legislation that guaranteed Los Alamos access to economic development funds. But we must do more to move our state forward by investing in early childhood education, supporting job-readiness training and apprenticeship programs, guaranteeing broadband, invest in empowerment zones and historically underutilized development opportunities, and increasing technology and research opportunities through the national laboratories.

Public Regulation Commission, District 3 Candidates

The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC) regulates the public utilities, telecommunications companies, and insurance companies to provide just and reasonable rates and efficient service for the public. In addition, the Commission is charged with the duties of assuring pipeline and fire safety, and compliance with other laws. Commissioners are elected by district for staggered four-year terms from five districts.

Valerie L. Espinoza (Democrat)

Unopposed

Public Education Commissioner, District 4 Candidates

The Public Education Commission consists of 10 elected members, whose role is advisory to the Secretary of Education. Members authorize, monitor, and revoke charters (when necessary) for all state-chartered charter schools in New Mexico. They serve four-year staggered terms. They must be at least 18 years old, must be a United States citizen, and must reside in the district that they represent.

Karyl Ann Armbruster (Democrat)

Unopposed

District Attorney, First Judicial District Candidates

New Mexico District Courts handle civil suits involving real estate or claims over $10,000, juvenile cases, divorce and child custody, criminal felony cases, and appeals from lower courts. The First Judicial District of New Mexico includes Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, and Santa Fe Counties. District Attorneys serve a four-year term with an annual salary of $116,000.

Yvonne M. Chicoine (Republican)

1. What are your qualifications for this position?

I am a licensed attorney and accomplished leader with decades of experience. I prosecuted hundreds of cases as an assistant district attorney in our First Judicial District. I argued dozens of cases before our Supreme Court and Court of Appeals as an assistant attorney general. I have built and led many successful organizations, programs and teams. My complete biography is available on my webpage, http://www.Respect4theLaw.com .

2. How would you deal with repeat DWI offenders?

I will prosecute all DWI offenders to the full extent of the law. Every impaired driver poses a threat. I will not routinely plead misdemeanor second and third DWIs down to "DWI firsts." This practice fails to respect the law; it effectively negates the intent and effect of the escalating penalties our Legislature enacted for second and third DWI offenses, and undermines DWI prevention efforts.

3. How should non-violent drug offenders be treated?

I will prosecute all offenders consistent with the laws enacted by our Legislature. I will also expand use of our State's 1981 Pre-prosecution Diversion Act. This Act (1) allows removal from the criminal justice system of eligible individuals that are most amenable to rehabilitation and least likely to commit future offenses, and (2) provides them with services designed to help them avoid future criminal activity.

Marco Peter Serna (Democrat)

1. What are your qualifications for this position?

I have experience prosecuting offenders of domestic violence, crimes against children, and homicides in the Valencia and Sandoval DA's office. I was second in command in Sandoval County, supervising the office both administratively and regarding prosecutorial efforts. I was the domestic violence division director for both Valencia and Sandoval Counties. Finally, I prosecuted offenders of elder abuse with the Attorney General's office.

2. How would you deal with repeat DWI offenders?

First, we need to educate our youth on the dangers of all substance abuse, I intend to work with school officials to accomplish this. Second, I will seek treatment for first time offenders to help ensure that they do not fall into the trap of addiction. Finally, I will not tolerate habitual offenders, and will implement stricter sentencing efforts to curb habitual abuse.

3. How should non-violent drug offenders be treated?

The call of this question is key to the answer--we need to treat drug addiction if we are ever going to beat it. I will implement a sentencing and plea policy that focuses on long-term treatment; programs like Delancey Street and LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) show us that treatment is an effective tool to beat drug addiction.