New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District is looking for its next Representative after Deb Haaland was chosen to serve as the Secretary of the Interior earlier this year. KUNM is interviewing all the candidates this week. We first sat down with Republican candidate Mark Moores to talk about crime and immigration policy.
KUNM: My first question is, what are the biggest challenges New Mexicans are facing now?
MARK MOORES: Right now, the out of control crime rate is a huge problem. And of course, that's multifaceted. Albuquerque’s drug issue and drug rates are through the roof. And also the violent criminals haven't been taken off the streets. So we're really seeing a record number of homicides here in New Mexico and property crimes. Right now we're on pace for another record year of homicide. That is the biggest challenge. Because what that does, it radiates all the way through society, if we're not feeling safe. We can't recruit businesses here to New Mexico, when they open up the front page of the paper and look at and see that there's another murder happening, they're not willing to come and expand their businesses providing career opportunities for New Mexicans. Obviously, it has a huge impact on our schools, and it just ripples through society. And we're not going to be able to get advanced as a state until we get this crime situation under control.
Just to dig a little deeper on your approach to crime: What is your stance on policing and criminal justice reform?
MOORES: All of us know that there needs to be improvements in criminal justice reform and police training. One of the things that has really concerned me is this vilification of police officers right now, there's no question that we have to get the bad cops off the streets. But we cannot just completely defund the police and look at radical changes, we need to make sure the police officers have the training that they need, they need the equipment and technology. And really they need our support. We do have to make sure that bad cops are off the street. But we also need to thank those cops who are out there risking their life and safety every single day to make our family safe.
We all just went through a year of living through the pandemic. And I think COVID really highlighted some of the inequities that we do see in education. So if you are elected, how will you ensure that New Mexican children and teachers return safely to the classroom? And what improvements do you think need to be made to public education overall?
MOORES: As grandparents, our two grandchildren who live here in New Mexico attend public school, and they have now missed 14 months of really high quality education. I fear that we actually have lost a lot of vulnerable students in the future and that's really where the inequity is going to come. From those who could afford private tutors or private schools, their kids were able to actually move forward and not miss this year of education. Poor students who are relying on public education for their schooling really fell further behind. I think we really need to make sure that those students have the resources and abilities to be able to have school choice with charter schools, and other options so that they can move forward and catch up. As a state, we need to make sure that we invest with longer school years and really try to catch those kids up. I'm really worried about those who were in high school and not being able to have the skills they need moving forward for good, successful careers. So we're really going to have to address that issue because this pandemic is going to continue for years as we deal with the consequences of it.
What would you say would be your policies in terms of immigration, if elected?
MOORES: We need to secure our border, it is a national security issue. We have to have that border secured. I take very great pride that my family came to Northern New Mexico in the 1600s from Mexico, and I'm very proud of that history. And immigration is really America's DNA. We are the shining city on the hill, where people who want economic opportunity and liberty come here. But we must have a system that is fair and legal, and encourages that immigration so that people can come here, participate in the American dream. So I believe we have to secure the border and I am willing to work with anyone anywhere to make that happen.
I appreciate you taking the time out and talking with me today.
MOORES: Thank you. I appreciate it.
The special election will be held on June 1st.