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VOTE411 Voter Guide

NM State Senator District 09

Represents a district in the New Mexico State Senate, which has 42 members. In odd-numbered years, the legislature meets for 60 days; in even-numbered years, it meets for 30 days. The Governor may call for special sessions. Senators sponsor and vote on “reasonable and appropriate laws,” represent the constituents of their districts, and serve on legislative committees. Positions are unpaid, except for per diem expenses. Elected for a four-year term.

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    Heather Balas

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    Cindy Nava

  • Candidate picture

    Audrey Trujillo

  • Candidate picture

    Frida Susana Vasquez

Biographical Information

What abilities do you have that qualify you for this office?

What is your top priority, and how do you plan to address it?

What additional water policies and actions, if any, are needed in New Mexico?

What, if anything, should be done to improve public safety?

What programs or actions, if any, would you support to provide more affordable housing?

How can New Mexico diversify its economy?

Should legislators be paid a salary? Why or why not?

Campaign Mailing Address PO Box 386
Corrales, NM 87048
Campaign Phone 505-386-0057
Twitter @HeatherBalas
Occupation Policy researcher and advocate
I've dedicated my career to advancing effective public policy, working with leading institutions and organizations to learn from voters what they need – on education, healthcare, the economy, natural resources, and a government they can trust. I served over a decade as Executive Director of New Mexico First, a statewide public policy organization, was tapped by the Thornburg Foundation to manage investments in good government, and today work in Democracy reform to advance trusted elections.
Top-notch, equitable education is my highest priority: early childhood through college. I favor strong investments in early childhood and NM Pre-K. In K-12, we must support and invest in teachers and principals, making education the career they want to stay in. We also need to expand career/technical education, especially in middle and high schools, so more of our youth graduate with a plan for their futures. I'm proud to have been endorsed by the American Federation of Teacher-NM.
Recent Supreme Court decisions reduced Clean Water Act protections, especially for dry climates. Our state needs primacy in regulating pollution in our waterways, rather than waiting for federal approvals. Most states have this authority. We must also: expand funds for watershed restoration and forest lands affected by fire; invest in long-term water planning especially for industries most reliant on water including ag; & repair aging infrastructure. I’m supported by Conservation Voters of NM.
Public safety must protect families & respect the dignity of all persons. We need close partnerships between law enforcement & safety net services – with the primary aim of preventing crime. This includes mental health & cultural competence training for law enforcement. We must also honor law enforcement agencies & first responders, providing resources to attract, hire, and retain the best personnel. When prevention & effective first responses fail, however, we need dangerous offenders secured.
NM has two kinds of housing needs: affordable rentals and affordable family homes. New state law moved us in a positive direction on both. Home ownership is one of the best predictors for economic stability, since it generates equity and creates a built-in safety net for families. So, we need to continue incentivizing affordable housing conversions as well as new construction. We also must end the statewide prohibition that bans rent control.
We need diverse economic development to ensure working families and young people have great job opportunities here in NM. We must support small businesses and encourage innovation among new industries. This includes incentives to make it easier to create new, clean jobs. Forbes ranks NM in the 4 worst states to start a small business, so we need our state agencies to find ways to accomplish their regulatory goals without creating unnecessary hurdles for business to overcome.
Absolutely. The lack of a salary -- even to compensate lawmakers just for the time they are away from their jobs during the legislative session -- prevents most New Mexicans from even considering running for office. I also support professional staffing for lawmakers and a change to the 60/30 day session structure. However, I do not support the law passed in the last session that doubled legislator pensions. It was a move in the wrong direction. We should stay the course on salaries instead.
Campaign Mailing Address PO Box 5328
Bernalillo, NM 87004
Campaign Phone 505-569-3364
Occupation Consultant
I am the first former DACA recipient to be appointed by the White House, where I served as Senior Policy Advisor to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, supporting 64 field offices, implementing innovative methods to address homelessness, and engaging in ongoing Tribal partnership. I have 20 years of policy experience, from affordable housing to education. I have also lived all the policies I advocate for. It’s not theoretical for me. Policy is how we change lives.
My top priority is that everyone in our state has access to the New Mexican Dream, without the obstacles that I have overcome to attain it. That means expanding affordable housing programs, recruiting and retaining talented health care professionals to provide access to high quality healthcare, and transforming our educational system to the top-notch system our children deserve, from early childhood to public elementary and secondary schools to trade schools and universities.
To improve water policy and actions, we need only to look to New Mexico’s elders and ancestors: that means protecting and funding acequias and implementing strong water quality policy to protect the water from pollution. We also need to work collaboratively with surrounding states to ensure that we as a region are protecting our water supply and using water responsibly.
Safe neighborhoods and communities are a key priority for me. Gun crime is out of control and we must implement common sense gun safety reforms, like waiting periods, age requirements and capacity bans. We also need to prioritize better funding for mental health and problematic substance use treatment, including both outpatient programs and residential programs. Finally, we need continued training, staffing, and funding support for law enforcement.
At HUD, I worked to ensure that first time home buyers and others in need of housing could make home ownership and housing stability a reality. NM has billions of dollars available to create affordable housing stock, while creating thousands of jobs. We need more first time homebuyer programs, loan counseling and low-interest loans. I am a first generation homebuyer. I know how much these resources help. We also need to grow accessible housing options for those experiencing housing instability.
We have so many opportunities to diversify our economy in New Mexico, which is so rich in potential. We’ve seen the demand for renewable energy skyrocket, and New Mexico is rich in solar and wind power; if we improve and create infrastructure, we can create thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of investment into our economy. Because of our resources and dedication to renewables, we can also sell renewable energy to neighboring states, generating millions in revenue.
I am very lucky that my job affords me the flexibility to manage Legislative responsibilities with my career, but that opportunity is not open to so many in New Mexico who would make incredible legislators. Our Legislators should be professional policy makers, and we cannot do that without professionalizing the Legislature by paying these public servants, hiring staff to support them, and extending the amount of time the Legislature meets.
Campaign Phone 505-720-0315
Campaign Email
Twitter @AudreyT4NMSOS
Campaign Website
Occupation Small Business owner/semi-retired
I have an MA in Public Admin. BA Criminology, BA Spanish/Portugues, and have been very active in my community in the public and private sectors. I have volunteered for our community in numerous positions including the Parent Teacher Assoc. (PTA) as the President/ Treasurer as well as the Parent Teacher Org. (PTO) President. I am a small business owner and director of the Corrales Mentor Center (CMC) I organized community anti-bully seminars for the public. I am very organized and detailed.
My top priority is keeping my community safe. I plan to partner with our local law enforcement to address the issues and establish a fiscally responsible plan to ensure safety measures have the necessary funding needed to combat the different problems faced. Task forces and other ideas will be looked at in more detail as well as seeing what is working in different areas similar to our district.
I am a firm believer in protecting our waters and making sure our drinking water is safe for our citizens. I would like to see more testing and the standards be raised to ensure our citizens are drinking healthy water.
I believe our first responders and police should have the proper equipment and technology to help them do their jobs. I also would like to see more community engagement in combating crime through public awareness programs and neighborhood watch groups. Finally I believe that keeping a clean well taken care of community, keeps crime down. Pride in a community is very powerful.
I believe in pride of ownership. I think that programs that help first time buyers need to be expanded. I also believe that infrastructure needs to be well-maintained to sustain any new housing developments. A planning team that is knowledgeable and fiscally responsible to the taxpayers.
New Mexico needs to be more business friendly in order to attract more businesses. There needs to be tax incentives to do business here and hire locals needing jobs. I would like to see internships attached to these new businesses. I believe this would attract our graduates fresh out of high school and entice them to get a skill in a high paying job.
I believe in volunteering for public service. The legislature is an elected position and countless hours are spent creating or passing laws that affect us all. Our legislators work long hours without pay as servants to the people of NM. It is an honorable position to be elected into. If one runs for any office, they need to have the time and energy to serve and show up. I don't believe legislators should be paid a salary unless they have no other job and are designating this position.
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