Q&A Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti

Mark Ronchetti

NAME: Mark Ronchetti

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Meteorologist

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Not a politician.

EDUCATION: Undergraduate: Washington State University; Meteorology: Mississippi State

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: MarkRonchetti.com

1. New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What steps should the Legislature take to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?

The real problem is our state is far too dependent on government spending. We now have the highest unemployment rate in America and 40% of our small businesses closed for good. We must diversify the economy by growing the private sector through cutting taxes to make our state more competitive.

2. During the last regular legislative session, there was an unsuccessful push to make it easier to keep certain defendants behind bars until trial. Should New Mexico law be changed to make it easier to hold individuals charged with violent offenses such as murder and first-degree child abuse behind bars until trial?

Absolutely. When criminals face no consequences, criminals will commit more crimes. To keep our communities safe, we must end “catch and release” for those charged with violent crimes, those who use firearms in the commission of crimes, and repeat offenders who ignore court orders.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?

End “catch and release,” support our police, restore qualified immunity, crack down on repeat offenders, prosecute more violent offenders and drug traffickers in the federal system, stop the flow of fentanyl and drugs across the border, end sanctuary policies, and increase penalties to end our revolving door justice system.

4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

Small businesses are hammered by our GRT code. We need to level the playing field by ending the double and triple taxing of small businesses and commit to reducing the overall gross receipts tax rate. A 25 cent one-time reduction when the budget increased by $2 billion doesn’t cut it.

5. New Mexico is currently the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, though lawmakers do get per diem payments and can qualify for a legislative pension. Do you support or oppose a salaried Legislature and, if so, how much should lawmakers be paid?

Until the Legislature deals with pressing issues like crime, fentanyl overdoses, securing our border, and improving our schools, I don’t see why we should give them a pay raise.

6. What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students, especially Native Americans and those who don’t speak English as a first language?

Our education system is ranked last for all children. We must focus on teaching children the basics, such as reading, writing, math and science. It’s critical that we help our kids catch up from the lost learning they suffered as a result of school shutdowns, which disportionately hurt minority children.

7. What should be the priority as New Mexico seeks to strengthen its health care system? How should the state address a shortage of nurses and other health care workers?

We have a critical shortage of health care providers, which affects our quality of care. We need to end policies that chase doctors and nurses away, expand telehealth, integrate health-care career focused training as early as high school, and ensure maximum professional license reciprocity is in place for medical personnel.

8. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. Do you support or oppose the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would withdraw more money from the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-12 education?

I oppose raiding the permanent fund and believe we can adequately fund these programs with existing dollars, given the fact that this governor has increased state spending by a whopping 40%. Early childhood programs should be well-coordinated, serve those most in need, and get clear results.

9. In order to address climate change and air quality issues, do you support or oppose legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the state achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?

The governor’s “Green New Deal” is killing good-paying jobs, threatening rolling blackouts this summer, and dramatically increasing energy costs on families and businesses. Instead, New Mexico should embrace energy production of all types and lead the nation to energy independence that’s good for consumers, rate-payers and our national security.

10. New Mexico recently became the 17th state to regulate and tax recreational cannabis sales? What, if any, changes do you believe should be made to the existing law?

New Mexico should be the most aggressive state in the nation in keeping marijuana away from children and prosecuting drugged driving. On the first weekend of legalization, a driver high on marijuana killed a motorcyclist. That Monday, 14 elementary school kids ate marijuana edibles a child brought to school.

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

Yes, sensible checks and balances are needed to protect our basic freedoms and prevent government overreach, like the long, painful, and disastrous shutdowns that caused 40% of our small businesses to close. That Michelle Lujan Grisham has been allowed to extend these powers as long as she has is entirely unacceptable.

12. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

It should be easy to vote and hard to cheat. Voters should be required to show photo ID. I support absentee voting, but oppose automatically mailing ballots without voter request, as the governor proposes. I’ll fight efforts to legalize ballot-harvesting. I oppose open primaries. We should end partisan judicial elections.

13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

Yes. Infrastructure dollars should be spent on shovel-ready projects that create jobs in the short-run and lay a long-term foundation for economic growth. Far too often, capital funds go unspent and are wasted in New Mexico.

14. Do you support or oppose authorizing an independent redistricting commission to perform the once-per-decade task of redrawing New Mexico’s political boundary lines?

Support. The current process is abused and reform will help end gerrymandering, ensuring voters choose their elected officials, rather than politicians choosing their voters. What the Legislature did this year was a shameless political power grab designed to ensure one-party rule for the next decade. That’s not good for democracy.

Personal background

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

No.

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

No.

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

No.

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