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Candidate, New Mexico House of Representatives 
District 47

Reena Szczepanski

Climate Science-Based Policy

  1. Do you agree with climate scientists that we are facing a climate emergency?

    1. Yes

  2. Do you agree with climate scientists that the brunt of the impacts we face due to climate change will be put on those who contributed the least emissions? (The global South, Indigenous, and low-income communities)

    1. Yes

  3. Do you agree with climate scientists that greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed within 6 years in order to achieve carbon neutrality in time to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees and to avoid catastrophic runaway climate disruption? - IPCC Report

    1. Yes

  4. If elected, what specific policies will you initiate in your first year of service to begin transitioning our state economy from an extractive economy to a regenerative economy within the timeframe set by the world's leading scientist?

    1. We have to move with urgency to enact policies to support a more regenerative economy, and to address the climate crisis. I have been working on two major initiatives in my first two years in office, and I will fight for these until they have launched fully and are on an upward trajectory.  The Creative Industries are essential to the sustainable economy of our future.  I passed the bill to establish the Creative Industries Division, and secured two staff people. Next session I will fight for a robust grants program. Secondly, I have been working to create a local solar access fund, so that every community can have solar placed on public buildings.  I will continue to work on this priority with Sen. Pope.







Community Engagement Questions

  1. What are the current needs or issues you see across the state, city, or county and how do you plan on addressing those issues if you are elected?

    1. Our communities are strong and resilient, but they are facing many challenges.  One of my priorities has been access to affordable healthcare.  I will bring forward a proposal for Medicaid Forward to expand access to affordable coverage and leverage federal resources for our families.  I have successfully  protected the Healthcare Affordability Fund and created a study for Medicaid Forward in my first two years.  Housing, violence, opportunities for youth and services for seniors are all issues that I see in our Santa Fe community that I want to address.

  2. What is your vision of the ideal relationship between communities and environmental/climate justice?

    1. I believe communities should have the opportunity to define for themselves what they view as necessary to achieve climate justice as well as the kinds of supports, programs, and services that each community wants.

  3. What role do you believe communities actively play in policy development? Especially when addressing issues that have been inherited and faced for generations?

    1. Communities have to have a seat at the table, and that's one of the reasons I've been so passionate about more diverse people running for office.  I also believe that it's a responsibility of policy makers to ensure that community has a seat at the table.  The best policies are developed with the communities that are the most impacted by the proposals, or in some cases by our failure to act.

  4. What changes will you propose so that community driven solutions have equitable influence over policy-making, and are valued as much if not more than private profit driven solutions?

    1. There are so many ideas for participatory budget-making, and other methods of community involvement that we could explore. When I was Chief of Staff, I ensured that public comment during the legislative session could be provided over Zoom, and worked with the Speaker to make sure that policy stayed in place even after the pandemic.  There is much more work to do to make the voice of the community is heard clearly.  In addition to policy development, I think there's a huge role for community in the implementation of policy. Our access to community services would be greatly enhanced if the public got to participate in universal design and access.

  5. How do you plan on engaging communities and youth in policy development or proposals?

    1. It's important to me that I and the legislature as a whole are as accessible and involved as possible.  I have an open door and regularly meet with people from all over Santa Fe and the state. I hold community town hall coffees nearly every month so that constituents of House District 47 and others can participate and bring their ideas.  The Local Solar Access Fund was one of those ideas that we were able to turn into a bill, in partnership with a community coalition. 

  6. Describe your previous experience working on social/health/environmental justice issues, do you have experience working with impacted communities to co-develop solutions?  How will you use this experience to tackle the climate crisis?

    1. I actually began my work this way in pubic health, working with patients to create new services.  I continued that approach in working on drug policy, developing women leaders, and as Chief of Staff. We need community-driven solutions to the climate crisis.

A Just Transition

  1. What connections do you believe exist between our state/local economy and budget and environmental and climate impacts? How will you work to ensure that the state/local budget fosters economic, environmental, and climate justice?

    1. We need to invest in workforce development and resources for communities where families working in the energy industry live, and create robust economic development around the state in sustainable livelihoods.

  2. How do you see the role of oil and gas corporations in New Mexico’s future as a result of the climate crisis?

    1. We can work to diversify our economy, knowing that revenues from oil and gas will decline in the future. Meanwhile, we need to ensure that industries in New Mexico are not violating our laws and regulations and creating harm to our land and people. 

  3. Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM.

    1. I haven't encountered this term before, but I believe it would include citing unregulated and polluting industries close to communities of color.

  4. How will you be playing a role in a just transition away from fossil fuels for NM?

    1. My work to develop the Creative Industries Division will be every important to the just transition efforts.  We need accessible jobs and economic development for every community around the state, and we know we have creatives living in our very smallest and very largest towns. 

  5. Do you believe climate action is an issue of intergenerational justice? What is the responsibility of your generation to the youth and future generations if elected? Explain.

    1. I wake up each morning thinking about the world that I am leaving for my kids, and how I can support them to navigate that world and in turn leave it better for their kids.

  6. How can pollution and contamination impact our youth and communities?

    1. Our youth's health and their very future is impacted on a daily basis by pollution, from higher rates of asthma to lead poisoning from drinking water.  There are many children in New Mexico that do not have access to running water in their homes, creating public health concerns, stress and the investment of time to procure water on a regular basis. These are just a few examples.

  7. How will you include Traditional Land Based Knowledge when developing policy?

    1. I think one of the most important ways to support this is by supporting the education of our leaders, current and future, by investing in the Tribal Education Trust Fund, so that our tribes, nations and pueblos can create the educational resources and system they want for their youth.  I will always reach out to our tribal government leaders. For example, I received input from Native artists and tribal government leaders. on the development of the creative industries division legislation.

  8. If elected, will you support investing some of the money from oil and gas revenues to fund A) dedicated resources for a Just Transition Study to model alternative economic pathways for our state including oil and gas revenue replacement and phase-down B) create a just transition fund to invest in community-driven climate planning for local economies to divest from harmful industries and build alternative economic visions and investments that effectively contribute to climate mitigation and community health?  Explain.

    1. Yes, I would support planning for these future scenarios and investing in community planning as well.

  9. Name specific alternative sources for state/local revenue that you'd pursue and propose if elected

    1. Film, TV, and the creative industries are issues that I am pursuing currently.  I also very much support Rep. Andrea Romero's idea of a "healing economy."

  10. Do you support the development of Hydrogen energy, nuclear energy, and/or carbon capture and sequestration in NM? Why or Why Not?

    1. I am continuing to learn about proposals on these topics and have many concerns about development of these industries that would need to be addressed.  If these issues come before the legislature, I would evaluate the proposals very carefully.  For example I voted to create a mechanism to block the development of interim nuclear waste storage facility in NM.

  11. Do you support community ownership of energy where Cities/Counties/Indigenous Nations are able to own, produce, and sell electricity to residents and keep energy dollars local?

    1. For me, that would depend on the community.  In my experience, public utility ownership has not always translated into benefits for the people with the least resources. I think we need to be very careful to regulate those models to ensure that those with the least are protected. 

  12. What do you believe is the fossil fuel industry/utility’s responsibility for cleanup and how as an elected official in the public office for which you are running do you plan to hold industry accountable for pollution and cleanup?

    1. Ensuring that bonding requirements cover the full cost of clean up is a critical step. We also need to fully fund our regulatory agencies so that they can effectively carry out their duties of inspection and enforcement.

  13. Do you support the State Land Office’s moratorium/prohibition on new oil and gas leasing on state trust lands within one mile of schools or other educational facilities? Would you support legislation to create  a public health buffer zone prohibiting oil and gas drilling within one mile of schools on ALL NM lands?


  14. Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? 

    1. Yes

  15. Can you commit to not accepting donations or funds from fossil fuel companies if you are elected?

    1. No

  16. What are your ideas to loosen the grip of industry on the state legislature and strengthen our democracy?

    1. I don't believe our NM House is in the grip of industry. In the House, I work with colleagues from all walks of life that are genuinely trying to do their best to serve their communities.  Many community members have worked hard for years to diversify the House, which is now an example for the country in that we are majority-women and majority-people of color.  This is so important to our future - our Representatives should look like the diversity of New Mexico, and they do.  We now have many working parents, teachers, and even our first Gen-Z member, and the House is so different now than it was when I was first starting out as an advocate. That doesn't mean that it is easy to pass legislation - however, I believe in our electoral process and I also believe in making the Legislature as accessible as possible.  We have to welcome the community to participate year-round.

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