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Born and raised in New Mexico, I learned these values growing up in a working family in the North Valley and West Side of Albuquerque. Like so many in our community, our family worked hard to make ends meet and gave back to help support our community.
My mother worked as a seamstress and heavy equipment operator, while our extended family owned a mom-and-pop landscaping and irrigation business where I worked growing up. I grew up helping sew garments, operating equipment and digging trenches and bussing tables nights and weekends.
After years of work on land, water, and community issues in New Mexico, I went to Washington D.C., where I worked with the U.S. Senate and Executive Office of the President to work on these issues at the national level. After being the first woman elected as State House Representative to New Mexico House District 28, I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2021.
Having grown up in Albuquerque, I share many of the same stories and struggles as so many New Mexican families and have dedicated my career to helping build a brighter future. Like all families that struggle - grit, determination and resilience helped my family get by, but it was the care and support – the heart – of our community that helped us thrive.
Food, water, shelter, and a meaningful job are the basics of a dignified life. Yet for too many in our community, these fundamentals are out of reach. Like so many families, ours was touched by housing and food insecurity, lack of health care, tragic losses, and many of the experiences that come with the struggle to get by. For me, this struggle is personal and has inspired my life’s work in community building, economic development, hunger and homelessness, and water security issues.
But, New Mexico is defined not only by our grit and our struggles — it is defined by our resilience and determination. Cultures and languages that have been carried forward for generations and that stretch back over centuries and millennia. Landscapes shaped by wind, water, and sun. Rivers that flow from sacred mountains to desert plains. Our food. Our art. Our ways of life. And the wisdom, creativity, and determination of our people. That is who we are.
As a policy maker and science professional, I have spent my career working to help build a more just, sustainable, and resilient future. This work is not just what I do, it is who I am.
I earned a Bachelor’s of Arts in Human Ecology and Natural Science from Saint Mary’s College of California and a Master of Science in Development Sociology (with a minor in American Indian Studies) from Cornell University.
Early in my career, I worked as a science educator in schools across the state through the Museum of Natural History. Later, I worked as a researcher and advisor on land and water issues, focused on New Mexico’s water needs and the resilience of our rivers. I later took this work to Washington D.C., where I worked in the Office of Management and Budget and the U.S. Senate in the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
Upon returning home, I was asked to run for office. Like so many women who answered the call in 2018, I stepped up to run for a State House seat that many thought could never be won. But, we organized and mobilized – and together not only flipped the seat, but elected the first woman to represent the district – me.
Since taking office in 2019, I have rolled up my sleeves and gotten to work, both in the New Mexico legislature and in Washington. I have focused on addressing childhood hunger, modernizing our electric grid, fostering resilience in our water and food systems, improving education, expanding economic opportunity and public safety, improving access to healthcare, and using sound science in decision-making.
As your Congresswoman of New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, I continually put this lifetime of experiences to work for our people. Addressing food and housing insecurity, fighting for universal access to healthcare, building and diversifying our economy, protecting our sacred lands and waters, lifting up the voices of New Mexicans, and tackling global climate change. This is my charge. And, together, I know that with our grit, resilience, determination, and heart – we can get the job done. Because we are New Mexicans and that is what we do.
As a native New Mexican, I have dedicated my career to serving our community – working to help address some of our most pressing challenges. I grew up in Albuquerque, and am driven by the same grit, determination, and resilience that holds our community together and drives us forward. Like so many families in our community, mine often struggled to make ends meet. For me, these deeply personal experiences have shaped my life’s work in community building, economic development, hunger and homelessness, and water security issues. I believe in our community and our future, and that is why I am proud to serve as your Congresswoman, to take our fight to Washington and deliver for New Mexicans.
I am committed to bringing people together and delivering for New Mexico. As a former staffer in the U.S. Senate, I helped write and pass bipartisan legislation in Congress. As a former House Finance and Appropriations Committee member and White House Office of Management and Budget employee, I know how to deliver on a budget that serves the people. As the Congresswoman for New Mexico’s First Congressional District, I bring science, compassion, and my love for our community to deliver results for and lift up the voices of New Mexicans.
ECONOMY, JOBS, AND RESILIENCE
GROWING OUR ECONOMY, JOBS, AND RESILIENCE
I grew up in a working family and know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. That’s why I am focused on expanding our economy, supporting local businesses, and growing more meaningful jobs. That means investing in our economic strengths and our people, and ensuring that everyone has every opportunity to succeed.
During the pandemic, I have fought to help support families and businesses, including helping to pass emergency relief in Congress, raising money to help bring food and water to communities across the state, and helping people in our own community access food and navigate unemployment and other services. I understand that our businesses and schools need resources to safely reopen and that we must rebuild our economy to ensure everyone can thrive.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
The U.S. economy depends on transportation systems that connect our communities physically via roads, bridges, and waterways and virtually via electrical grids and the internet. However, much of our infrastructure is either out of date or crumbling or communities do not have equitable access, particularly in rural and Tribal communities. In the New Mexico Legislature, I worked to pass a law to modernize New Mexico’s electrical grid. In Congress, I continue to champion investments in infrastructure from investments in broadband and drinking water infrastructure to paving roads and building more resilient and sustainable infrastructure.
RAISING THE FEDERAL MINIMUM WAGE
Growing up in a community where so many struggle, I know what it’s like to not know how you’ll make it to the end of the month, or put food on the table, or see a doctor. That is why I support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. I believe everyone should have the opportunity to provide for their family with a meaningful job with a living wage.
We must take a compassionate approach to fixing our immigration system and reversing the discriminatory practices put in place by the last administration. Families must be reunited and we must provide a path to citizenship. In Congress, I support humane immigration policies that address root causes of migration and provide opportunities for immigration, which boost our economy and add to the rich cultural and economic fabric of our country.
Over the past few years, our communities have faced incredible hardships and loss due to the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Congress will need to continue to work closely with the President and states to bring our country out of this crisis and help our communities rebuild. I fight to ensure we provide families, small businesses, and state, Tribal and local governments with the support they need. To get this virus under control, we must continue to follow the guidance of health care professionals and the science, and ensure that vaccine distribution is done quickly and equitably.
MAKING OUR GOVERNMENT WORK FOR NEW MEXICANS
To ensure that our government works for New Mexicans and is responsive and responsible, I have championed initiatives to get big money out of politics, and improve and modernize state government.
I am committed to transparency at all levels of government. It has been my policy since I first ran for office in the 2018 cycle to not accept funds from corporations or corporate PACs.
In Congress, I will continue the work to get big money out of politics, for campaign finance reform at all levels, to improve our agencies and oversight, and elevate the voices of everyday New Mexicans.
SUPPORTING WOMEN AND ADVANCING GENDER EQUALITY
As the first woman to represent my state House legislative district, I am deeply committed to advancing women in leadership, gender equity, and LGBTQIA+ rights and opportunities.
In Congress, I will fight to protect reproductive health care, ensure equal pay for equal work, address the crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous women, and support initiatives that uplift women and girls.
I will always make sure that women have the right to make their own reproductive health care choices and protect reproductive health care coverage.
I will fight to protect LGBTQIA+ rights, reverse the discriminatory policies of the previous administration, and end discrimination in employment, healthcare, housing, and all spheres. I will also fight to ensure that our laws are inclusive of all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity and protect the rights and opportunities of all people to thrive.
Health care is a human right. Too many New Mexicans still do not have adequate access to healthcare, are saddled with the burden of medical debt, and are facing even heavier burdens from the pandemic. As a legislator I have voted to expand and protect access to healthcare, including protecting pre-existing conditions, and to keep out-of-pocket healthcare costs down — because I know personally the impact medical bills can have on working families. I have also sponsored legislation to help expand access to healthcare in New Mexico and protect women’s health.
In Congress, I continue to work to fix America’s broken health care system. That means supporting Medicare for All and working to make sure that everyone, regardless of pre-existing conditions, has access to quality health care, addressing fundamental inequalities in access to care, and expanding health care access across the state.
IMPROVING PUBLIC SAFETY
As a lifelong New Mexican, I know that to improve public safety and reduce crime, we must invest in our health care and behavioral health systems, and ensure that our families have access to the services they need.
Throughout my career, I have worked alongside our first responders and community organizations to bring much-needed resources to make our neighborhoods safer and improve community well-being.
ADDRESSING THE MISSING AND MURDERED INDIGENOUS WOMEN AND RELATIVES CRISIS
The crisis of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives is a public safety crisis across the U.S., and particularly in New Mexico, where we have one of the highest number of cases of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in the country.
In 2019, we worked with colleagues in the State Legislature and State Indian Affairs Department to pass the New Mexico MMIW Act to establish the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Task Force. Since then, the Task Force has been working with partners to address the MMIW&R crisis, increase coordination and data sharing across public safety authorities, support victims and families, and address the underlying causes of systemic violence. The task force has made impressive progress in its work so far, but much work remains.
We must continue to fight to address systemic violence against indigenous women, expand support services and crisis management for survivors and families, and work to achieve justice for the generations of women and children who have suffered.
In New Mexico, we celebrate and benefit from our multiculturalism and vast diversity. We know that dismantling racism in America must include recognizing and dismantling White supremacy, undoing systems upheld by racism and oppression, and creating opportunities for equity and inclusion in all areas of life, including: child care, education, jobs and economic growth, and access to health care. This is a problem that has been neglected by too many elected leaders in America going back decades. When we elect leaders who are committed to fighting racism and discrimination at all levels, systemic racism stands less of a chance. In Congress, I will always seek ways to identify and dismantle systems of oppression.
In 2019, I voted for legislation to decriminalize cannabis, an important step to reform the cannabis policies that have disproportionately impacted low-income people of color. I support expunging the records of non-violent drug offenders. I also support responsible recreational cannabis legislation that would regulate cannabis like alcohol and help to stimulate the economy.
ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY
PROTECTING OUR NATURAL RESOURCES
New Mexico and our planet are facing a climate crisis. Historic drought is amplifying water insecurity throughout our country and more frequent fires are devastating our public and private lands.
I have spent nearly two decades of my career dedicated to science-focused work on water and natural resource issues both on a statewide and national scale. The protection of our natural resources is not only essential to securing our economic prosperity and a more sustainable future, but is essential to the preservation of our cultural identity, heritage, and ways of life.
In Congress, I continue to fight to pass meaningful legislation to address climate change, develop more renewable energy, ensure our water security, clean air, and the preservation of our public lands.
Addressing hunger, housing, and income insecurity has been a lifelong and personal passion. New Mexico has amongst the highest hunger rates in the nation, with nearly 1 in 4 children experiencing food insecurity in the state. As a State legislator, I championed efforts to expand access to school meal programs, obtain funding for hunger relief programs, and address systemic issues in our food system.
We need more champions to address systemic hunger at the federal level, which is why in Congress, I will push for legislation to expand food and income support programs and provide funding to address childhood hunger across the country.
To learn more about my take on how we address hunger in New Mexico, you can listen to a recent podcast I recorded with the New Mexico Out of School Time Networks podcast: Hunger in New Mexico, Repatriation, and Regionalizing the Food System.
EDUCATION AND CHILD WELL-BEING
INVESTING IN OUR CHILDREN, EDUCATORS, AND SCHOOLS
I believe that education and child-wellbeing are the cornerstones of a thriving community. As a graduate of Albuquerque Public Schools (K-12) myself, I know first-hand the impact teachers and mentors can have on a person’s life and the importance of access to education. That’s why I’ve worked to expand educational opportunities from early childhood, to K-12, trades education, college and university, and lifelong learning.
As a state legislator, I voted to give our teachers and school workers a much-deserved raise and expand educational opportunities and equity across the state. I co-sponsored legislation to create an Early Childhood Education and Care Fund to invest in early childhood education and our most precious resource—our kids. I worked to pass legislation to help address childhood hunger and have sponsored legislation and budget initiatives to address systemic food insecurity.
In Congress, I continue to make education and child-wellbeing a top priority. I will continue to push for more educational opportunities for kids, increase pay for teachers, and for investments in education and community supports and wrap-around services from pre-K to college and continuing education.
AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE
Affordable, quality child care is critical to the well-being of children and their families. In Congress, I will support a Child and Dependent Care Credit and will work to lift the financial burden on working families to find a nurturing, stable, and safe places for children to thrive.
PAID FAMILY LEAVE
Right now, families in New Mexico and across the country are forced to choose between taking time off to care for a loved one or themselves and keeping their job. Working families shouldn’t have to make that difficult decision and potentially lose precious time with their children or sick family members. That’s why I will push for the expansion of paid family and medical leave in Congress.