Q&A: Nicole Michelle Olonovich, Democratic candidate for House District 12
NAME: Nicole Michelle Olonovitch
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: CEO, C SolPower LLC
TOWN OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have been active at the Roundhouse since 2014 with local non-profit associations such as OLÉ! NM and organizations like the National Association of Social Workers – NM Chapter. I am a voting member of the New Mexico Democratic Party and Resolutions Committee, Congressional District 2 Chairman of the DPNM Environmental Justice Caucus, Executive Director of the DPNM Adelante Progressive Caucus. I worked on joint caucus legislative action committees during the session. I’m the president-elect of the New Mexico Solar Energy Association and the National Board of Generation Green Amendments. I am a veteran of the United States Air Force.
EDUCATION: Masters of Business Administration and Masters of Social Work (MSW) Summa Cum Laude from New Mexico Highlands University; double BA Magna Cum Laude in Psychology and Communication from the University of New Mexico.
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: olonovitch4hd12.com
1. New Mexico relies heavily on the petroleum and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by the recent oil boom and bust cycles. What steps should the Legislative Assembly take to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?
New Mexico has abundant solar and wind generation potential. We can power our state with renewable energy and storage, utility scale and decentralized community and rooftop solar. We should also be an exporter of renewable energy creating a stream of income in perpetuity, driving job growth, improving health and building a stable economy.
2. During the last ordinary legislative session, efforts were made unsuccessfully to facilitate the retention of 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?
Poverty, crime and addiction are systemic problems, and we need to invest in systemic solutions. We know that “lock them up” policies have failed to solve the problems. Mass incarceration for non-violent offenders is inefficient and harmful. At the same time, offenders who pose a real threat to public safety may need to be incarcerated.
3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety in the face of rising violent crime rates?
Multi-pronged approach: pass legislation prohibiting the purchase/sale of “ghost weapons”, secure storage of firearms, ban automatic weapons and large capacity magazines, universal background checks, and close the loopholes of the law on the purchase/sale of firearms. Strengthen and expand mental health and addictions treatment programs and address failing systems like education, housing and unemployment.
4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
While we need to reduce or eliminate the gross receipts tax, which would help reduce incomes for New Mexicans, we would need to balance that with an increase in personal income tax. on the wealthiest in the state and/or a personal favorite, taxing second (or third) landlords.
5. New Mexico is currently the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, although legislators receive per diems and are eligible for a statutory pension. Do you support or oppose a salaried legislature and, if so, how much should legislators be paid?
I support paying legislators a minimum of $38,000 and staffing them with dedicated staff. Investing in our legislators and extending the legislative session will pay off for New Mexicans; time and money well spent researching, crafting and enacting prudent and meaningful legislation in pursuit of the public interest.
6. What more, if anything, should the legislature do to respond to a court ruling that found that New Mexico does not provide sufficient education for all students, especially Native Americans and those who do not speak English as a first language?
Legislation allowing students to have access to reading material in the language of their choice has just been adopted, but it is insufficient. We need to completely overhaul our education system to emphasize learning (including multilingual classrooms) not testing, and enough staff and funding for intellectually rigorous, artistically exciting and recreational programs.
7. What should be the priority as New Mexico seeks to strengthen its health care system? How should the state address the shortage of nurses and other health care workers?
Inexpensive, high-quality professional training programs are key to addressing nursing and health care shortages. Caring, educated nurses and health care workers who are well equipped in critical thinking and communication, and who are dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives could transform our health care system.
8. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, preschool, and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust. Do you support or oppose the constitutional amendment proposed in the November ballot that would take more money out of the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-education? 12?
I support the YesForKids ballot initiative and strongly encourage everyone to vote for it in the November 2022 ballot. A critical time to shape productivity is from birth to age 5, when the brain is developing rapidly to build the foundation of cognitive and character skills necessary for success.
9. In order to address climate change and air quality issues, do you support or oppose legislation that limits greenhouse gas emissions and requires the state to achieve net zero emissions? here 2050?
Four fires are raging and we are experiencing an exceptional drought. Economists and scientists warn that the status quo is not sustainable; the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has called it a “code red” for humanity. Yes, I support legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions and the rapid transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. The good news: we can do it.
10. New Mexico recently became the 17th state to regulate and tax recreational cannabis sales? What changes, if any, do you think should be made to the current law?
We need to expunge the criminal records of people who have committed offenses of manufacturing, distributing and possessing cannabis. Additionally, we must release incarcerated individuals who are serving cannabis offenses under 30 grams. Finally, we must remove barriers to entry for Black, Indigenous, and people of color who want to work in the cannabis industry.
11. Do you believe that any 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 expanded or reduced and in what specific ways?
As a disabled veteran suffering from a respiratory illness from my service there in Iraq, I am grateful to the governor for his handling of the COVID pandemic, and would not support any changes to the emergency powers of the executive office. .
12. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? Do you support or oppose opening state primary elections to voters who are not affiliated with any of the major political parties?
I support expanded voting rights, greater access to vote by ensuring that everyone who wants to vote can do so, and I would vote to make Election Day a holiday to encourage voting. I am also a fan of open primaries.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital expenditure funding?
Transparency and representation are hallmarks of my campaign and this includes capital expenditure allocation. I believe in using objective criteria to allocate the down payment. Yet we must also be flexible, to honor the expertise that Representatives and Senators must bring to the communities they represent.
14. Do you support or oppose allowing an independent redistricting commission to perform the once-a-decade task of redrawing New Mexico’s political boundaries?
I support the citizens’ redistricting committee. Our cards must be drawn in the best interest of voters, and any changes must be made transparently and backed by science, data and facts to ensure we don’t put ‘holder protection’ above rights. voters.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been subject to any state or federal tax liens?
2. Have you ever been involved in personal or commercial bankruptcy proceedings?
The last presidential administration signed an executive order making graduate student allowances taxable. As a result, in 2018 I was forced into bankruptcy in order to “afford” my PhD. program.
3. Have you ever been arrested, charged, or convicted of a DUI, misdemeanor, or felony in New Mexico or any other state?
In 2008, I was honorably discharged. I had trouble reacclimating after the war (Iraq, 2004) and was arrested for drunk driving. Fortunately, I appeared before a judge who sentenced me to court-mandated therapy. I quit drinking, went back to school, earned MBA and MSW degrees, all while advocating at the Roundhouse for access to mental and behavioral health.