The Observer asked primary elections candidates running for county offices or legislative seats representing some part of Sandoval County to fill out questionnaires sharing their views.

Responses were not edited for anything except word count.

County commission, state representative, sheriff and magistrate judge candidates were limited to 800 words, while probate judge and assessor candidates were limited to 500 words due to having fewer questions to answer.

If candidates went over the limit, their responses were cut from the bottom until they exactly met the word limit.

State Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert, a Republican, is running for re-election in District 44, facing challenger Susana Vasquez in the primary. Powdrell-Culbert didn’t return a completed questionnaire.

Kathleen Cates

Kathleen M. Cates

Democrat

Community of residence: Rio Rancho

What are your qualifications for this position? I have supported this District for over 15 years as a homeowner, executive of several nonprofits, small business owner, Chamber of Commerce member, Rotarian, and public-school programs.  I have spent the last 15 years advocating for funding, and law/policy changes that support veterans, wildlife, individuals with disabilities and children. I have turned around several nonprofits and companies from failing to thriving. As an executive I have had the opportunity to manage organizations with as many as 150 employees and have been working with Legislators to identify needs in the community. I am transparent and accessible which I believe is essential for community service.

Have you ever been convicted of or do you have any pending charges of a felony, DWI or domestic violence? No. I have had Department of Defense Clearance and cleared background for the NM Department of Health, CYFD, and Rio Rancho Public School System.

If elected, what would your short- and long-term goals be?

  1. Our rights are being attacked and I will work immediately on protecting accessibility for voters which would include creating consistant voting dates and locations.
  2. I will do everything to protect Human Rights, People’s Rights which includes Women’s Rights. Protecting women’s right to make healthcare decision that are being threatened by government interference will be one of my highest priorities.
  3. I will look for investment opportunity in our infrastructure that will increase economic growth without jeopardizing the environment.
  4. Assuring that housing is available for multiple incomes is essential to the strength of our community.

    How can people reach you if they have more questions? VoteforKathleen@Gmail.com

Should the legislature reconsider or modify the legalization of recreational marijuana? No but I do believe we need to investigate into the cost and quality of drug tests that can identify when individuals are under the influence of marijuana. These tests have been in development in Europe and field tested in Colorado. Current common drug tests do not identify if a person is currently under the influence, only if they have used marijuana in the last few months.  This is essential to determine if individuals are driving or working under the influence.  I do support the legalization of marijuana but want some processes in place to assure safety and support for our law enforcement, businesses, and community members.

What industries and/or types of businesses should the state consider attracting to New Mexico to help diversify the economy? Why? Our State generates revenue through timber, gas, and oil.  Our state’s budget is at the mercy of having only 3 strong revenue streams.  When gas is expensive, New Mexico can invest in our State but when gas and oil are low, we are under funded in many of our essential services.  We are told that New Mexico is a poor State and yet we have one of the largest Permanent Funds compared to other States regionally. We need to diversity our revenue streams and use some of our Permanent Fund to invest in infrastructure. 

It is essential that we attract and create new jobs that pay a living wage.

Our natural resources are our strongest asset.  We should capitalize and protect our diverse landscapes to be used in the film and hospitality industries.  We should be the innovators and model for wind and solar farms.  Strengthening our revenue by this diversity, as well as a base financial source through the Permanent Fund can support stability.  Consistant investment is essential to create strong foundations for any large organization.

What can the state do to improve students’ test scores and education in general? Improving test scores will take the entire community not just the school systems and will need a long-term investment.  I will support the Early Childhood Education Amendment and believe this will create a solid foundation to build an education system we are proud of.  New Mexico is a State of science, innovation, history, culture, and art.  We can do this.

How can the state balance the interests of legacy energy industries, i.e., oil and gas, with renewable energy? We must audit oil and gas sites to make sure wells are capped correctly and environmental requirements are in compliance.  We need to freeze additional oil and gas investments and take this time of increased funding to protect our diverse landscape to market our hospitality and film industry.  We should be building the infrastructure needed to supply the region with alternative forms of energy. 

In what ways can the state help ease the effects of inflation and supply-chain issues on New Mexicans? The State has already provided some tax relief on gas and some retail items and will be issuing tax rebates. It is not enough. I am willing to look at ways our State can support essential items like fuel, housing, and food.

 

Susana Vasquez

Susana Vasquez

Republican

Community of residence: (No answer given.)

What are your qualifications for this position? I’ve called House District 44 home for over a decade. Outside of doing my part in grassroots efforts to help get the right people elected to office, I have no political experience. Some people might be afraid to say that, but I think it’s a good thing. I’m not a politician, I’m a business owner. I think that’s the type of leadership the state needs right now. The way the pandemic was handled was the last straw for me. I was forced to shut down my business and was even prohibited from entering my own place of business. This was hardest on my employees. My business was fortunate enough to make it out of the pandemic, but this wasn’t the case for a lot of business owners and workers in our community. Hundreds of businesses across the state have been permanently closed. My business experience and ties in the community will be valuable in not only helping our economy rebound from the pandemic, but also making sure our economy can reach its fullest potential.

Have you ever been convicted of or do you have any pending charges of a felony, DWI or domestic violence? No.

If elected, what would your short- and long-term goals be? My short term goals are reducing and balancing the state’s budget and passing a bill for term limits for state officials, Some of my long term goals include reducing crime in New Mexico, protecting the lives of the unborn, fighting back against the state’s drug crisis, helping our education system and securing our Southern border.

How can people reach you if they have more questions? You can visit my website at susanafornm.com or send me an email at vasquez4nm@gmail.com.

Should the legislature reconsider or modify the legalization of recreational marijuana? A bipartisan effort to modify the existing laws should be something we could all get behind. Right after the state legalized marijuana, we heard the story of the little girl in Albuquerque who took marijuana edibles to school and handed them out to her classmates. I will work to pass regulations that ensure the possession and consumption of pot never puts New Mexicans, especially our children, in danger.

What industries and/or types of businesses should the state consider attracting to New Mexico to help diversify the economy? Why? We have everything we need right here at home. I’m not at all saying that I am opposed to policies to attract outside businesses here, but our focus needs to be on what’s best for New Mexicans, not large corporations from out of state. A lot of economic incentives used by the state actually leave taxpayers in the red, or with very little return. I think the state’s economic incentives should instead be aimed towards small business owners in New Mexico. Hundreds of locally owned businesses were permanently closed during the pandemic. As a result, New Mexico lost jobs, business revenue, tax revenue, and an opportunity for exponential growth. If the goal is truly to diversify the economy, then we can’t focus on growing one particular industry but rather need to turn our attention to the small business owners in New Mexico.

What can the state do to improve students’ test scores and education in general? Education in New Mexico has been an issue for far too long, and it starts with leadership. Our elected officials throw money at the problem and think it will go away—clearly, they are wrong. Education is the most important factor when it comes to the futures of our children, and it is unacceptable to be complacent with where we are at. I am a strong supporter of school choice. Rather than funding institutions that are failing to deliver for students, we need to instead give parents the funding they need to send their children to the public, private, or homeschool of their choice.

How can the state balance the interests of legacy energy industries, i.e., oil and gas, with renewable energy? The production of oil and gas do not have to be mutually exclusive. New Mexico produces both and we can continue to produce both. I believe that if we can do this correctly, New Mexico can become one of the leading energy producers in the nation and even have the potential to sell our surplus energy to neighboring states. We also cannot deny the importance of oil and gas here in New Mexico. Not only do we rely on this industry for energy production, but the industry plays an extremely vital part in our economy. Recent figures show that about $2.9 billion of the state’s budget, or 35% of the budget, comes from oil and gas. Any attempt to diminish the impact this industry has in our state would be devastating for the state’s economy.

In what ways can the state help ease the effects of inflation and supply-chain issues on New Mexicans? Despite being in the same geographical region, New Mexico’s economy lags behind our neighboring states. At the moment, inflation is an issue that Americans across the country are dealing with, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel to help New Mexicans financially. We need to reduce government spending and increase consumer spending. If we can cut out unnecessary spending by the state government, we can have flexibility to reduce state taxes and put more money back in the pockets of New Mexicans. The state’s gross receipts tax needs to be completely eliminated.