Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asked District 64 State Representative candidates to answer the following questions in 300 words or less. The answers were edited for spelling and style. The primary is June 3.
Name: Mario Trujillo
Occupation: County Clerk
Running for: District 64 State Representative
Party affiliation: Democrat
Elected offices held: City Commissioner and County Clerk
What type of economic development suits eastern New Mexico best, and how could you as a legislator facilitate it?
With green energy being advocated by our country’s leadership, I think wind energy is definitely something suitable to eastern New Mexico. Our very own Chamber and Clovis Industrial Development people work hard every day to attract more
economic development to Clovis and New Mexico. Currently, they are trying to attract this type of group to our area. As a legislator, I would work aggressively with these local groups and do my best to pass legislation that would be beneficial to
our economy. Working with the state we could provide opportunities for small business development. It is important to provide tax incentives yet be careful we don’t erode our own tax base. These past few years I have seen Clovis prosper and grow and we want to continue to see its growth so our graduates will not have to leave Clovis and New Mexico in order to find good paying jobs.
How familiar are you with the Ute Water Project? What can the state Legislature do to move the project along?
As your county clerk, I take the County Commission minutes and am familiar with the Ute Water Project as this project has been discussed several times in our meetings.
Water is a precious commodity that we need to be careful with. We need to look at the future and be proactive and not reactive. In the future, our children should not be
faced with lack of water. Businesses would have to close and move on. We need to be prepared in case of a shortage. Recently our commission was asked for a letter of support for this project. The State Water Trust Board has contributed approximately $4 million to move this project along. The federal government wants to see the state and local governments working together before they get involved. Our local and state governments have already shown that. Our former Mayor and the Mayor of Portales have worked hard to see this project get started. They now have the momentum going and as a legislator I want to keep it going. The Ute Water Project is not a small project and will be very expensive, but working together we can persuade the federal government that this is a necessary project for eastern New Mexico. If our federal delegation can persuade Congress to pitch in, we can get this project completed. Of course, it will have to be done over a number of years, but with everyone working together and cooperating, even large projects can be accomplished.
What do you propose doing to help New Mexico schools? Is the current funding formula working?
Having been an educator for 25 years, I understand the funding formula is outdated. As with anything else, we can’t operate with a formula that is obsolete. Our schools are no longer receiving the necessary funding to keep up with quality programs.
New Mexico needs to work at paying its teachers more. In order to attract quality teachers, we need to be competitive in salary, and New Mexico needs to strive to be at the top of the list.
The state established a committee to study the funding formula and we know it is inadequate. What this committee recommended needs to be followed. Administrators cannot do their jobs if they don’t receive adequate funding. In the coming session, people will be lobbying for and against the proposed formula. As a legislator, I will definitely work with our local school administrators and community college to help them get the formula where it would benefit our schools and children.
Gov. Richardson has been pretty adamant about a health care plan, and has gone so far as to threaten a special session. How can health care be improved in the state?
Health care is an enormous problem in our state and I can understand why Governor Richardson wants to get something done. No one likes to see the sick having to suffer because they can’t afford health care. Our county pays out hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly to help with indigent care in our community. Every year our local hospital requests Sole Community Provider help and our county has been able to assist with funding. This funding helps pay for those that can’t afford health care. Without indigent help from the county, hardship would be placed on needy families. This is definitely a problem that needs to be studied. We must all work together to try to solve it. Universal health care is working in some
countries and we should study their programs. The costs and resources to pay for them must be determined. If universal coverage is not the way to go, then we need to provide incentives for our businesses to help with insurance. People say they don’t want to have health care run by government, but that is occurring when hospitals provide care to those who can’t afford it.
Regarding state infrastructure, what areas need the most improvement or repairs, and how can the state pay for such needs?
Roads, roads, and roads. In Clovis, our roads are an eyesore everywhere you go. It isn’t that our leaders aren’t working to get them repaired, instead it is lack of money to fix them. Our state is also limited in its funding. Our local legislators request money
for roads for the city and the county every year and there is never enough money. Recently, our road superintendent said the state was thinking about turning some of its state roads over to the counties because it couldn’t afford the maintenance costs. As a legislator, I will work diligently to acquire the dedicated funding in order to allow the state to bond much needed roads and projects.
What is something you felt the Legislature has not adequately handled, and how would you approach it?
The Legislature should work to always have open government as some of its committee meetings have been closed. Consequently, that has served to make people think they are trying to hide something. The best way to conduct government business is to have all legislative meetings open for anyone to attend. I will strive to see that committee meetings are adequately announced and open to the public at all times.