ECONOMY & JOBS
As a member of a family owned small business and an entrepreneur, I know first-hand that small businesses are the backbone of our community. When small businesses receive the support they need to grow and prosper, families thrive and the entire community benefits.
COVID-19 has had a disastrous impact on small businesses in New Mexico, including our rural Lincoln and Otero counties, and the legislature undoubtedly needs to work to protect each and every small business in this state in upcoming legislative sessions.
Just like many other small business owners in the state, we had to lay off employees and shut our business. While the Cares Act helped somewhat, the steep rise in unemployment claims stretched state workforce solutions to its limits and caused serious delays and long hold times for furloughed employees.
The increases to minimum wages, while long overdue in New Mexico, have also impacted small businesses. The effects of these multi-year wage increases are still being realized, so the situation is evolving.
As your representative, I will make it a priority to listen to small business owners’ concerns and needs as we move through these unprecedented times together.
At the height of my TV news career in 2008, I received a call from my doctor with life-altering news. I had been diagnosed with a rare form of Leukemia.
As a single parent, my initial concern was the care of my two teenage sons. I then immediately worried if my health insurance would cover me. Thankfully, I had one of the best health insurance plans at the time. Because of this, I was able to focus on getting healthy and not my treatment costs, which included a monthly prescription with a price tag over $4,000.
During my battle I couldn’t help but think of those who were not insured and faced similar devastating health news. I know first-hand what it’s like navigating a health crisis while on the road to recovery, worrying about medical expenses and affording life-saving medication. It’s scary. The thought of someone fearful of going bankrupt, losing everything or even dying because they can’t afford proper healthcare or their medication is unacceptable.
Quality healthcare and affordability should be accessible to all, especially as we face a worldwide pandemic.
As your representative, I pledge to advocate and work with both sides of the aisle to find affordable quality healthcare solutions including prescription drugs for all New Mexicans.
New Mexico’s ranking of 49th in the nation in education is simply unacceptable. Thankfully, the turning point came in 2018, when a state court ruled that New Mexico’s education system actually violated the state constitution in failing to provide students a sufficient public education – especially at-risk, low-income and Native American students.
The election that followed in November marked another turning point and led to the beginning of the reform of New Mexico Education. In 2019, state lawmakers injected an additional $500 million into the public schools budget and created the first-ever early education department. Teachers and school administrators received a salary increase. The new K-5 Plus program added 25 school days for the youngest of New Mexico students. Then came COVID.
As a mother of two, I got to see first-hand the benefits of getting children involved in early learning while actively participating as a parent in their education. Although my children were blessed to have the opportunities of quality learning in a quality environment with quality educators, others were not as fortunate. That problem remains and is amplified today – 27 years later.
As a legislator, I will work hard to continue to propel forward the massive reform in education that is long overdue – even through fiscally challenging times – even through a pandemic. Legislators on both sides of the aisle must come together to continue to improve our education system and to not only say “Goodbye” to our dismal national ranking with respect to education but say “Goodbye for GOOD.”
BEHAVIORAL / MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
In 2013, the Martinez Administration suspended claims of 15 Behavioral Health providers throughout the state, alleging credible allegations of Medicaid fraud. The suspension caused a behavioral health crisis in New Mexico that has yet to be fully repaired. The state’s Attorney General has since cleared all of the providers of fraud and over $10 million of settlements were paid out to those wrongly accused.
For some of those providers, it was tragically too late - some went out of business. Even more tragic is the reality that many New Mexicans in need of behavioral and mental health services went under - or totally UN-served – for years.
The state has since been working hard to “fix behavioral health” in New Mexico. This is a huge undertaking and I am happy to support this critical work as a member of the state legislature. When, according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI), one in five people in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition, the importance of fixing behavioral health care is acute - especially in our rural areas.
We must remain cognizant of the stigma mental illness carries and continue to chip away at this if we are to continue a path forward with care and compassion for those impacted. This is why I hold my Mental Health First Aid Certificate. This knowledge has equipped me with the tools to help someone through a crisis.
Addiction – especially addiction to opioids – is rampant in this state, and even more prevalent in rural counties of Lincoln and Otero. It’s imperative we look at expanded treatment options for New Mexicans with substance use disorders.
As your representative, I will work diligently to ensure that New Mexicans in need of these vital behavioral and mental health services have ample access and support to receive them.
New Mexico is ranked last in the country in overall child well-being. Although there are many indicators to look at when deriving this ranking, they can generally be narrowed down to four areas: economics, education, health, family and community. Several of these topics are already an integral part of my overall platform; therefore, I will share a personal story at this point.
My heart was forever impacted 20 years ago when I was first introduced to the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program and a young girl in that program asked me, “So I can tell you anything?” My response was, “Yes, I’m here just for you. I am your voice.” As my first CASA case, my role in her life solidified my purpose – and my actions – going forward.
Today, it remains my mission to continue advocating on behalf of children, which I have done for nearly nine years in Lincoln and Otero counties. But I feel that now is my time to take that advocacy to a new level by becoming a State Representative and working on legislation that protects all New Mexico children equally. And I am committed to working with the entire legislature, since the welfare of every New Mexican child should never be a partisan issue.
The children of New Mexico in the courts and foster care system deserve our strongest advocacy. I will strive to be that voice, their voice, and will continue advocating for them at the state level.
My number one priority as your state legislator is to ensure we are fully invested now – and in the future – in our most precious resource, every New Mexican child. It’s time for every New Mexican child’s voice to be heard.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
I pursued my Criminal Justice degree because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.
In 1990 during my first year in college, I recall having class discussions with my Criminal Justice professor about issues surrounding criminal justice reform. Fast forward 30 years and Criminal Justice is at the forefront for systemic reform, a topic of bipartisan discord and few solutions.
It is time to take on Criminal Justice reform and have those uncomfortable discussions that will lead to equitable solutions and delivery of equality and justice for all.
I have a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice Police Science with a Minor in Spanish and an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice. I attended the Panhandle Regional Law Enforcement Academy and earned my Basic Peace Officer’s Certificate. I have also worked as a detention officer and adult probation officer. I will use my extensive experience and education in Criminal Justice to work with both sides of the aisle to address the issues impacting the road to Criminal Justice reform in New Mexico.