Q&A: Gary J. Tripp, House 44 District Candidate

  • NAME: Gary J. Tripp
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Education consultant
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 38 years in public education
  • EDUCATION: BA and MA educational administration
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.garytripp.com

What steps should the legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak?

Diversify our economy by promoting solar, wind and other green initiatives and legalizing recreational cannabis. Boost small businesses, which are at the heart of our economy and particularly affected by the coronavirus, and inspire new businesses to come to New Mexico.

What more, if any, should the legislature do to respond to a court ruling that found New Mexico is not providing sufficient education for all students?

Make sure our program meets the 21st century needs of kindergarten through high school students. Continuously interconnect skills in our classrooms, strengthen soft skills, teach history accurately, and encourage financial literacy. Extend the school year with more classroom instruction and less time on high-stakes tests. Provide universal broadband internet access.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross revenue tax code?

Every county is different in New Mexico. This complex and regressive tax mostly hits low- and middle-income families and small businesses. The governor’s bipartisan tax policy advisory committee will make recommendations to improve the tax code. I favor fair and equitable approaches, which promote economic development and job growth, and provide sufficient revenue to the state.

Do you support or are you opposed to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in New Mexico and taxing its sales?

Legalized recreational marijuana can help grow and diversify our economy. New Mexico has learned a lot from states where recreational marijuana is already legal. We can use this knowledge to craft comprehensive law that protects our citizens, generates tax revenue for our state, and advances our economy.

Do you think changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other time of crisis. If so, do you think these powers should be extended or reduced and in what specific ways?

The challenges facing New Mexico and our progress in the fight against the coronavirus are a testament to the importance of the governor having strong emergency powers. The emergency responsibilities of the federal government and the states must be clearly delineated and accepted. Ambiguities or conflicts can be resolved by the judiciary, if necessary.

Do you support or oppose the repeal of a long dormant 1969 state law that bans abortion except in limited circumstances?

I would focus on preventing unintended pregnancies through approaches such as readily available contraception, evidence-based sex education, and economic support for poor women. I would support the repeal of the 1969 law banning abortion.

Are you in favor or against the adoption of a new state law that would allow police and other public officials to be prosecuted individually by abolishing the qualified immunity defense?

A new state Civil Rights Commission, which includes law enforcement officials, will provide recommendations to the Legislature regarding qualified immunity. I would consider the commission’s recommendations and support legislation that would hold law enforcement responsible for the excessive use of force while protecting those who act reasonably and in good faith.

In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early years programs, such as home visiting, preschool, and child care assistance, and has established a new trust fund. special for early childhood. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would take more money from the Permanent Land Grant Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?

I would support this amendment. We must make quality early childhood education a priority for improvement. As an educator, I know that early childhood education and services are essential to ensure that our children have the basic knowledge, social skills and emotional resilience necessary for successful development and learning.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its electoral laws and primary system? Do you support or are you opposed to opening the state primary elections to voters who are not affiliated with any of the major political parties?

I support the opening of the New Mexico primary elections and would ask other lawmakers to join me in drafting legislation on this topic, regardless of their party affiliation.

Would you like to support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital funding? Should every legislator be required to disclose the projects they have funded?

Funding for capital expenditure should be merit-based and made available to all constituents for viewing through the ACDFL portal. Providing a read-only site to allow all citizens to see which projects have been sponsored by their state’s lawmakers would ensure transparency and demonstrate accountability.

New Mexico relies heavily on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent cycles of oil boom and bust. What steps should the state take to diversify its economy and income base?

As noted in previous answers, New Mexico needs to diversify its economy by investing more in clean energy and legalizing recreational cannabis. New Mexico needs to work with its counties to provide incentives to attract businesses that offer skilled jobs statewide.

Would you like to support or oppose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates to address concerns about climate change?

I support the abandonment of hydraulic fracturing in areas of the state where hydraulic fracturing is currently practiced. I support the ban on hydraulic fracturing in the central part of the state where 50% of our drinking water comes from the Rio Grande.

What steps should the legislature take to fight crime and improve public safety?

Ensure adequate resources for law enforcement as well as adequate resources for intervention and treatment. Promote community policing. Promote common programs in all schools that allow police, students and staff to work together for the safety and well-being of our communities.

Do you support or oppose the right of the public to inspect the images taken by the cameras carried by the police? Under what circumstances, if any, should the police video be hidden from the public?

I support the right of the public to inspect images taken by cameras as a protection and a means of accountability for the police and for our citizens.

Members of the New Mexico business community argue that some state laws and regulations need to be changed so that the state can better compete with Texas and Arizona when it comes to attracting business. What steps do you think should be taken to improve New Mexico’s economic competitiveness?

Invest in local STEM science, technology, research and education. Support small businesses through low interest loans and grants. Implement more equitable tax policies, including a fair self-employment tax rate and closing counterproductive tax loopholes. Invest in infrastructure, transportation and renewable energy projects. Strengthen partnerships with space commerce companies

Personal history

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been subject to state or federal tax liens?

I have never owned my own business.

2. Have you ever been involved in personal or business bankruptcy proceedings?

I have never been involved in bankruptcy proceedings.

3. Have you ever been arrested, charged or convicted of impaired driving, any misdemeanor or felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.

I have never been involved in any misdemeanor or felony charge in New Mexico or any other state.

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