Scientists and climate experts agree: human activity is primarily responsible for climate change, and the results are catastrophic – devastating storms, longer droughts, and more frequent flooding. But Republicans in Washington continue to roll back the very policies designed to reverse these harmful effects, and we need to take equally aggressive action to combat their reckless treatment of our planet.
Climate change causes particular trauma to low income and minority communities, who are too often the targets of bad policy or exploitation by huge companies looking solely for a profit. So while apathy and ignorance have played a role in our current situation, so have exploitation and abuse. In Congress, I will aggressively push for accountability for polluters and the specific big corporations who callously put profits over people.
As a legislative staffer for both former Congressman Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman, I worked to advance a number of policy proposals designed to protect our environment. I’ll continue that fight to strengthen and enforce legislation to promote green energy jobs, protect our natural resources and engage in the world in a sustainable way. Such work requires fully funding the Environmental Protection Agency here at home and re-engaging with the Paris Accords, instead of abandoning our position as a global climate leader.
In New Mexico, abundant sunshine and strong winds make our state perfect for a thriving renewable energy sector. In fact, in 2016, more than 2,900 New Mexicans worked in the solar industry. That’s why in Congress, I’ll fight for more tax credits for renewable energy companies, so they can expand the solar business, take advantage of our greatest natural assets, and provide employment opportunities and growth for our community.
As a member of the U.S. Armed Forces, I’m also uniquely aware of the threat climate change poses to our national and global security. Climate change affects the movement of people, the availability of resources, and the stability of governments all over the world. Increased storms and rising temperatures lead to instability, which leads to more conflict and chaotic migration around the globe. When people’s livelihoods are at stake, they become desperate, and extremists exploit that desperation to radicalize the most vulnerable. That’s why so many in the national security sector have joined their voices to the chorus of communities loudly demanding bold action on climate.
We need aggressive action on climate justice to reverse the impacts of human behavior and environmental degradation, and to ensure healthy, sustainable living for future generations. The time for reactive policy is over - the time for sustainable living and a safer, healthier planet, is now.
Healthcare is a human right. We all have loved ones who have struggled with a health crisis, and I believe that no one who is sick should face bankruptcy or death because insurance companies are putting the bottom line over people’s lives. The Trump Administration and the Republican Party leadership in Congress have done everything in their power to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and destabilize health care, working to rip away coverage from millions of Americans while insurance companies bank profits.
Despite their efforts however, the ACA remains largely intact because of the enormous support it has from across the country. While it’s true that there are fixes we need to make to the law, it’s undeniable that it has been a lifesaver for New Mexican families. Because of the ACA and Medicaid expansion, 266,000 New Mexicans have health care coverage.Thanks to the ACA, seniors no longer face the Medicare donut hole, preventive care is more fully funded, and insurance companies can no longer discriminate against women. I will always stand up for affordable, accessible health care for all New Mexicans and Americans.
There are specific communities who deserve targeted health care services that acknowledges and meets their specific needs. These include:
Finally, in Congress, I will promote the expansion of Medicaid and the implementation of CHIP, two programs which ensure our most vulnerable populations have access to care. Both programs are now threatened by the Trump administration and its draconian, anti-family and anti-health care policies, but I will never back down from my commitment to accessible, affordable health care.
Everyone deserves to live in a safe community, free from fear of crime and violence. Here in New Mexico, our criminal justice system isn’t getting the job done; in 2016 we had the highest property crime rate in the country and ranked second in violent crime.
I’ve spent the majority of my professional career helping law enforcement agencies implement smart reforms here in New Mexico, and that experience has given me a unique perspective on how we need to tackle crime on Day One.
The truth is we have a lot of work to do. We need to give our police departments the resources and training they need to keep our streets safe, and we have to encourage strong and collaborative relationships between officers and the communities they are paid to protect. It’s time we rethink how we approach sentencing non-violent crime and minor offenses and invest in rehabilitation, so that people who have served their time have the resources they need to succeed once they’re out of prison. Finally, we must address the ongoing drug crisis that is devastating communities and families in New Mexico and across the country, and make sure the pharmaceutical companies responsible are held accountable. When crime and drug violence are so intricately linked, we cannot afford to tackle these challenges independently.
No New Mexican should ever feel unsafe in their home or in our community, but in recent years, we’ve seen a spike in crime rates. That’s why in Congress, I’ll fight for our cops and make sure departments receive the funding they need to protect us while respecting the rights of every New Mexican.
Positive relationships between officers and the communities they are charged with protecting is crucial to fighting crime. That’s why together, we can make sure that every New Mexican grows up in a safe, prosperous community.
As a former U.S. Attorney, I know how important it is to prosecute violent criminals who threaten New Mexicans and our community. But when we unfairly sentence non-violent and low-level offenders because of unreasonable mandatory minimums, we overcrowd our prisons, waste tax dollars, and cause permanent harm to individuals and communities far out of proportion to their crimes.
One of the most effective ways to stop crime is to prevent the conditions that lead to criminal activity from developing in the first place. That’s why in Congress, I will support funding for outreach and prevention programs that target at risk communities. Such programs can ensure that all New Mexicans have access to the resources, information, and support that will help them become active and productive members of society.
The fabric of America is interwoven by those who have been here and those who have come here, forging a unique identity and contributing to the character, strength, and diversity of our country. Attacks on immigrants cannot stand, and so long as the Trump Administration and Republican leadership demonize those who look different from them, I will fight to expand opportunities and to ensure that America remains a safe haven for those who seek refugee, shelter, or simply a chance at the American dream. We need to build bridges, not walls, and welcome those who are fleeing violence or persecution.
I fully support the Deferred Action for Child Arrivals (DACA) and will stand shoulder to shoulder with DREAMers who want the freedom to succeed in America. These DREAMers are our neighbors and our friends. The Trump Administration’s actions threaten the futures of these young men and women, the stability of their families, and the future of our country. I will oppose any bill that holds DREAMers hostage for a border wall or draconian changes to immigration policy.
Republicans are determined to squander taxpayer dollars, fueling fear and pandering to extremists who seek to turn us against one another, but our country is stronger than that. I won’t allow Republican leadership or Donald Trump to tear small children from their parents, unlawfully detain legal residents, or violate anyone’s civil rights because of the color of their skin.
I’m proud to have been educated in New Mexico, receiving my B.A., M.B.A. and J.D. at UNM. The brutal truth is that our schools are undervalued and underfunded, and it’s hurting our children and our economy. Teachers are working hard to educate their students, but they’re being forced to do it with one hand tied behind their backs because they don’t have the funding and the support they need to do their jobs well. Albuquerque’s high school graduation rate is tragically low, and our students are woefully unprepared for the world due to a lack of investment in their education and training. As a graduate of New Mexico schools, I will make investing in education and supporting teachers and educators a priority.
We need to invest in education from an early age, fully funding universal pre-K and home visitation programs and ensuring that resources are available for students who want to pursue higher education, so that they don’t end up burdened by a mountain of debt. I will fight to protect and expand Head Start and Early Head Start and to provide federal funding for high-quality pre-K. We need to build partnerships in our community between businesses, government laboratories, higher education, and public schools to promote STEAM education from pre-K through graduate school, including incorporating STEAM into after-school programing.
Higher education has taken a beating at the state and national levels, yet it is the bedrock of our economic success and advancement. I will work closely with New Mexican colleges and universities and ensure they are best positioned to compete for national grants, and advocate for federal funding for higher education, particularly for our Hispanic serving institutions.
Jobs are the heart of not just our economy, but of our community, and our elected officials need to take seriously the responsibility to put in place public policy that allows jobs to grow and our economy to expand. We need a comprehensive approach that involves a myriad of interrelated issues, including better funded education, access to credit for small businesses, net neutrality, expanded Social Security benefits, equal pay, a living wage, workplace protections, and increased opportunities for entrepreneurs.
In 2006, Forbes Magazine rated Albuquerque as the number one place to start a business or career in the country. Since then, we've declined in too many areas, not investing enough in our businesses and in our future. New Mexico is hemorrhaging small business of between 5 and 50 employees, when instead we should be focusing on saving those jobs and keeping businesses here, where they can grow and invest and expand. We have technology being developed at Sandia National Labs that is among the best in the world, including renewable energy technology, battery technology, and isotope technology, but these innovations aren't making it into the private sector as they should. In Congress, I'll fight to ensure businesses have what they need to keep innovating and expanding.
Kirtland Air Force Base is one of the economic anchors of our economy, providing over 53,000 jobs and $4 billion in economic impact in the greater Albuquerque area. The base is coming up before the BRAC commission again soon for consideration, and in Congress, I'll use my congressional experience, military background, and national security expertise to ensure the base stays open and continues to serve our economy and community.
If we recommit to enacting policies that support our workers, our businesses, and our overall economy, we can be number one in the country again.
In 2002, I signed up to serve my country and became a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. For the past 15 years, I’ve served as a proud member of the U.S. Army Reserve and the New Mexico National Guard, and over the years, I’ve been both mobilized and deployed overseas. I consider it part of my duty as a veteran to stand up for my fellow service members who’ve sacrificed so much for our country. We need to improve access to health care for our wounded warriors, including those who suffer from PTSD or other mental illnesses, and we need to address the crisis that is veterans homelessness. Military families also need our support, as we know it is not only service members, but also spouses and children who sacrifice when a loved one puts on a uniform.
As a United States Army reservist, I understand that diplomacy, engagement, and development must remain the centerpiece of our foreign policy and national security strategies. During my service in the New Mexico National Guard, I was deployed to Sinai, Egypt, to serve as part of a peacekeeping force. Such activities must remain a pillar of our broader global security initiatives if we are going to continue our leadership position in the world. In Congress, I will push to ensure the U.S. State Department - as well as all of our diplomatic tools and personnel - are fully funded and given the tools and resources they need to conduct effective and efficient operations.
I will also make cybersecurity a priority. Expanding measures to deter and constrain Russian cyber aggression must be part of a comprehensive system to secure future elections at home and abroad. I will advocate for a thorough assessment of our vulnerabilities, including a state by state analysis of voting system security. I will also insist on investment in our technological security infrastructure, in our electoral systems and beyond.
Taking care of our seniors is part of America’s moral code, and efforts to privatize Social Security or turn Medicare into a voucher program are a betrayal to our families and loved ones. Social Security is one of the most successful government programs that has ever existed, allowing seniors to retire in dignity, offering a lifeline to widows and dependents left behind by tragic occurrences, and preventing millions of people from sinking into poverty. We need to expand Social Security benefits to keep up with ever rising costs, so that Social Security can offer those who need it most the support and assistance they deserve. As well, thousands of New Mexicans receive health care benefits under Medicare, which they paid into most of their lives. I will fight to protect Medicare and ensure seniors receive the healthcare and benefits they’re entitled to under this program.
Women’s rights are one of the defining issues of our time, and they’ve been sidelined, ignored, or traded away too often. Women both need and deserve full autonomy over their bodies and lives, which is why it’s imperative that men join their voices and support efforts to expand and fund comprehensive reproductive health care and women’s equality.
Women deserve the freedom, access, and resources to make whatever decisions are best for them and their families, without the interference of politicians or religious zealots. In Congress, I’ll fight alongside women to support and champion equal pay, expand child care subsidies, increase access to justice for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, raise the minimum wage (which impacts women the most), pass paid family leave, and ensure access to affordable abortion and birth control. We must also end damaging parental consent laws and federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers.
As U.S. Attorney, I made combating sexual assault on college campuses and in tribal communities a top priority, and I’ll continue to hold perpetrators accountable and ensure support and resources are available to survivors.
Gun violence is an epidemic in America, and we need to treat it as the public health threat that it is. We need aggressive laws that will close loopholes, prevent domestic violence offenders from accessing weapons, expand background checks, and in short, do more to save lives. All of these things can be done while still protecting law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights, and anyone who says differently is wrong. We can no longer allow the corporate gun lobby to hold our lives in the palm of their hands, and in Congress, I’ll champion common sense reforms that ensure weapons are kept out of the hands of criminals and those suffering from mental illnesses that make possession of a firearm dangerous.
Children's safety, health, and well-being are not women’s issues - they are society’s issues. As a father, I know that ensuring our children are able to grow up in safe and healthy environments is critical to ensuring their success in the future. New Mexican children rank last or next to last in almost all measures of child-well being. They face incredibly high rates of poverty, food insecurity, trauma, and lack of access to early childhood education. Additionally, child abuse and neglect rates have been steadily climbing in New Mexico and nationwide, fueled in large part by our substance abuse crisis. In Congress, I'll make children the center of policy initiatives, not an afterthought, and support legislation that puts their needs first, including:
Children are society’s responsibility, and it’s up to legislators and elected officials to ensure they are creating policies that support the work of parents, teachers, and communities in nurturing our children to the best of our abilities.
The LGBTQ community has faced isolation, discrimination, and violence for too long. In Congress, I will support legislation that establishes protections against discrimination for LGBTQ people in employment, housing, credit, education and adoption.
I strongly opposed President Trump’s efforts to ban trans men and women from serving in the military. I will always stand by the trans community against discrimination and ensure that their civil rights are protected and that sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are protected classes under federal law.
The opioid crisis that is gripping the nation has devastated New Mexican families and communities. Working in the Justice Department, I saw this destruction firsthand, and I used all the resources available to our office to prosecute drug and organized crime cases.
When President Obama appointed me as the U.S. Attorney for New Mexico, I made tackling the opioid crisis from a multi-disciplinary standpoint a priority. I invited the Chancellor of the Health Sciences to partner with me and local community activists and elected officials to begin the Heroin Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) Initiative.
Working together, we were able to expand education efforts at local schools, expand treatment options and access to harm-reduction tools like naloxone, and focus prosecutions on dealers and violent offenders rather than addicts. We also developed best practices for prescribing opioids and educating healthcare professionals. Because of our efforts, while the rest of the nation has experienced rising rates of overdose, ours has remained steady, and, in relation to other states, declined each of the past three years.
In Congress, I would champion the HOPE Initiative and others like it as national models. I will also publically insist that the Administration follow through on its declaration of the opioid crisis as a national emergency and direct funds into communities like ours to provide desperately needed treatment.
As U.S. Attorney, I prosecuted criminals and drug cartels, but our response to the opioid epidemic will be ineffective unless we also channel resources and support to those who need treatment and care.