Editor's note: Both candidates running for state representative of District 66 are currently the incumbents of districts 66 and 57. They are running for the District 66 because of recent redistricting.
Republican candidates running for state representative of District 66 were asked five questions for Tuesday's primary. Answers were limited to 150 words and edited for clarity and style. There are no Democratic candidates.
What district are you representative of now and how many counties do you represent in that district? How do you make sure all of your constituents are treated and listened to equally among those counties?
District 66 currently consists of Eddy, Chaves, Roosevelt and Lea counties. After Jan. 1, 2013, it will include Chaves, Roosevelt and Lea counties. I attending local meetings, visit county commissioners, talk to local Republican parties and attend social functions. Letters are sent to constituents halfway through and at the end of the session explaining what happened during the session. I also receive many phone calls, text messages and letters. I make every effort to answer all of them. With so many towns in such a large district, it's hard to attend every function. My wife, Janna, will sometimes attend in my place. My goal is to do my best to stay in touch with the people of District 66, listen to their concerns and represent what they need and want done in Santa Fe. I am in Santa Fe for my constituents, not for Bob Wooley.
How do you plan to improve the education system in New Mexico?
I am very concerned with the problems in our education system. We should give control of our schools back to the local superintendents, principals and the classroom teachers. Teachers and principals have no respect or authority to control the students and this is a huge problem with students being able to learn in the classroom. Small rural schools are different from large urban schools and both have different issues to deal with. This can't be done properly from Santa Fe because they don't know what each needs. Our local school systems should control what happens in their respective systems. The state school budget will be $2.3 billion in 2013. We should have enough money to implement programs starting in kindergarten to ensure our kids can read by the time they leave the third grade. Otherwise, we will have a bottle neck of students causing even bigger problems.
In what ways do you plan to help pump money into the local economy?
Southeastern New Mexico sends a very large percentage of the state's money to Santa Fe through gross receipts and severance tax money, yet the Democrats have kept most of it for their use above I-40. We need to get it back locally for our projects that will benefit our area. Revising our tax structure and business regulations will help new businesses open here and allow existing businesses to expand and hire more employees This would greatly benefit all our local economies. Getting more gross receipts taxes back to southeastern New Mexico and revising our tax and regulation laws will help all our local economies grow. Preventing any future tax increases is also very important to our future here. If the Republicans can gain control of the House this election, we can make changes that should greatly benefit southeastern New Mexico's economy.
What are the first two things on your agenda you want to take on if you were to be elected?
There are many issues of high importance that need to be addressed immediately in Santa Fe. It is difficult to put one over the other. Our school system, the state's tax and regulation problems, welfare system, helping our veterans, illegal driver's licenses, standing firm on our pro-life laws, and making sure our oil and gas production is sustained are issues that I am concerned about and need to be addressed. I will work with Gov. Susana Martinez and other legislators who also have deep concerns about these issues and want to move our state forward. I want to take on the issues that are going to benefit District 66 residents first and the state of New Mexico second. I welcome input from anyone wishing to talk to me about these issues.
What legislation would you push to pass immediately if you were elected and why?
I think the education and driver's license bills are extremely important to resolve in the next legislative session. These bills will again be carried by representatives Dennis Roch and Andy Nunez and I will support both of them. Gov. Martinez is standing firm on them, and I will support her. We have to help our students learn to read and reduce the drop-out rate from high schools. A high school diploma is the only way our kids have a chance to make it in life and we need to do everything possible to insure they get their diploma. The driver's license issue is a huge security problem for New Mexico and our nation. I would hate to hear a terrorist killed many people somewhere in our nation and find out he had a N.M. license that allowed him to freely travel the U.S. It must be stopped.