Third in an occasional series
The Chronicle has been interviewing candidates on their thinking about community colleges, specifically CNM, and how their ideas would translate into their jobs following the Nov. 6 general elections. This package offered candidates for U.S. House District 1 – in which CNM is located – an opportunity to respond, in the order of their positions on the ballot: Debra Haaland, Democrat; Lloyd J. Princeton, Libertarian; and Janice E. Arnold-Jones, Republican.
By Audrey Callaway Scherer
Haaland: Affordability, Opportunity
Courtesy of the Haaland campaign
The cost of college and the ability to pay off student loan debt are students’ most important issues, said Deb Haaland, and she plans to find better ways to help students achieve their dreams.
“I can identify so much with the struggle that students have,” Haaland said.
She would work to increase grants such as the Pell Grant, take out fees and costs that allow a “middle man” to make money off students and find as many ways possible for job-related loan forgiveness.
She said she also wants to see more jobs with programs to pay off loans such as with the Indian Health Service, and for students to have more job opportunities in underrepresented communities.
Making sure everyone has access to education is important because it is important in this country, and she is going to Congress to fight for students, she said.
She said she hopes to see the U.S. House flip and is working very hard with other candidates to have a Democratic majority: “This is the most important election of our lifetime.”
Everyone should make sure they’re registered and plan it out – know their voting location, put it on the calendar. If you schedule it, you are more likely to keep the appointment, she said.
“Flag it, and don’t let anything interfere,” she said. “I’d like to see every student vote. We all have a stake in our future.”
Princeton: A Libertarian Approach
Courtesy of Princeton
Elements of the two-party system and the big, convoluted state of our governments have had negative impacts on students, but higher education and informed voting can help in multiple ways, according to Lloyd Princeton.
The two-party system has become a tug-of-war at citizens’ expense, fueled by money coming in from out of state to put candidates in office with the expectation of their votes on certain issues. These elected officials don’t get to vote their conscience; they vote based on the party line. New Mexico is in the mess that it’s in because of the two-party system, he said.
In addition, from getting into the student loan business to creating safety cages that affect students outside of school, the government has created a system that people can’t get out of.
“It’s a shit show. And I think you should print it that way because that’s exactly what it is,” he said.
Getting a college degree increases your lifetime earning potential an average of $1.6 million beyond what someone who dropped out of high school would earn. Your earning potential is roughly $600,000 if you drop out, $1 million if you graduate high school, and $2.2 million if you graduate with a four-year degree, he said.
The problem is that these statistics are not being messaged to the community; people aren’t being told it’s their responsibility to go to college.
One of the biggest problems for students was when the federal government stepped into the private student loan industry and guaranteed loans to students, because it caused institutions to increase their tuitions under the assurance that each student would be funded, he said. In addition, more students enrolled in programs that weren’t pragmatic when it came to finding a career, which affected students’ abilities to pay the loans off.
As a result, today we have 4 million students with $50,000 or more in student loans and another 2 million with $100,000 or more who have not started paying on them four years after graduation.
With the intention of creating safety nets, the two main parties have created safety cages – things that people cannot get out of, he said. Especially with student loan debt and food stamps, or EBT.
“You’re telling the person: Do you want to feed your family, or do you want to be self-sufficient?”
He said he thinks that the poverty in New Mexico can be alleviated by taking a communicative approach to teen pregnancy and parents in the welfare system. New Mexico has one of the highest national averages of 15 to 19 year-olds with children: 33 of 1000 while the national average is 20, he said.
Personal responsibility and self-sufficiency before having children should be messaged through the schools, airways and media. Support, like daycare, should be provided for parents to get schooling and training and work, but not for additional children that they cannot afford themselves, he said. He does not see the logic in the current system.
“No one talks about sequence of success: study hard, work hard, marry, then have a kid. Or if you don’t want to marry, that’s fine too,” he said. He added that a partner may be helpful.
It can ruin a life by preventing someone from graduating high school or getting a GED, and it can seriously affect the lives of family members, as the new parent must rely on them and the system for support, he said. Raising a baby is a $200,000 endeavor; where will the money come from if you’ve dropped out of school and won’t make $600,000 in your lifetime?
“I don’t want to run in and cut everyone off at the knees and say you’re on your own; you shouldn’t have had that kid so you’re not going to get help, . . . but you’ve got to draw a line in the sand,” he said.
Parents should also be personally responsible for getting involved in their children’s education, especially before blaming teachers and the educational system for their kids’ failures.
He thinks we should focus on restorative justice and provide exiting inmates with technical skills and GEDs instead of dropping them off at 2 a.m. on Central, and rehabilitate rather than incarcerate non-violent drug offenders. The war on drugs clearly didn’t work, he said.
“You cannot expect somebody to provide for themselves if they can’t provide for themselves.”
One of the best parts about CNM is that in addition to providing an affordable education, CNM provides apprenticeship programs so that students can segue directly into careers.
“CNM has been on my radar for a while, now,” he said.
He used a quote attributed to Frederick Douglass to parallel his belief in personal responsibility and self-reliance. People deserve the tools to provide for ourselves, and he wants to see all New Mexicans have access to them, he said.
Success in life is a continual series of failures, until eventually you succeed. But if people have the tools and fail because they don’t apply themselves, it’s their fault, and other things should be looked at, he said.
Libertarians are very much based in the Constitution, and it does not guarantee happiness, but rather the pursuit of happiness. Not everyone will be happy, and he’s had his dark days,” he said. “Thank God I have a cute dog that I can hang with.”
He said that although he is a white male and sometimes discredited for being privileged, anything he has, he’s made, and things have happened in his life, too.
“It’s that experience that I want to bring to the table,” he said.
In addition to studying hard to finish their schooling, he recommended students start looking now for recession-proof jobs to insulate themselves from the impending financial cliff caused by state- and federal-level shenanigans in retirement programs, deficit spending and the rest of the programs across the board.
Considering the great economy in New Mexico right now, most people could be working in any kind of job they wanted, many with only minor training. Film, technology: Pick one, even if it’s not your career choice, he said.
Many of the 67 million Generation Zs are forgoing student debt and not going to college, because they see how critical it is to get recession-proof work before reaching this financial cliff.
It’s going to happen; interest rates are already starting to rise, and next, credit will freeze up, and once people can’t borrow, stuff will hit the fan, he said.
“It’s going to be monstrously bad,” he said.
This time will be worse than the housing crisis recession of 2008-2009, especially with what Trump is doing with the tariffs and trade wars, he said.
In the meantime, those who plan to vote should really look at their alternatives.
“Because you do have an alternative, and I am one of them,” he said.
Princeton said he is going beyond the two-party system and running as a Libertarian. Rather than having a political background, he has owned his own business for over 20 years, he said.
He sees that students seem to be expressing concern about the direction of our country and political system – what mess awaits them as it becomes their turn to do something.
Quoting John F. Kennedy, he said that it’s very easy for us to do what our forebears have done, like supporting who our parents voted for, and that we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.
But, you can’t vote for the same people who delivered this mess, Republicans and Democrats, and expect a different outcome, he said.
“I am begging your readers to think, and really look at what I’m talking about by the power dynamics here,” he said.
Libertarians and Independents are not beholden to either party and would be able to caucus with both parties based on the issues and make decisions supportive of New Mexicans, he said. They would also be called upon in cases of close votes between Republicans and Democrats, putting New Mexico on the map as a pivotal state. Plus, it would be historic for a Libertarian to represent New Mexico in the House.
“I’m running on a platform of principles that basically say do no harm unto others; stay out of my business and I’ll stay out of yours. The less government, the better,” he said.
He thinks he’s been successful in his career because he likes to find simplified ways to do things: “If you want to smoke a doobie, if you want to mess around with a girl or a guy, whatever you’re doing as long as you guys are consensual, who cares?”
Libertarians also tend to be very pro-choice, he said. He pointed out that he has 7 sisters.
Libertarians are fiscally conservative and agree on creating a good business environment so that private practice can prosper. This includes entrepreneurs and small businesses like the food trucks at CNM.
With less government, we can have lower taxes, which puts more money in our pockets that we will spend, and the economy gets better, he said.
“If you’re mad as hell and you’re not going to take it anymore, then you’ve got to do something different,” he said, referring to the movie Network. “You owe it to yourselves.”
Arnold-Jones: Jobs, Perspectives
Courtesy of Arnold-Jones
CNM students can go to work almost tomorrow and are needed desperately, according to Janice Arnold-Jones, and ensuring jobs for graduating students and New Mexicans is one of her top three priorities.
Apprenticeship is particularly important because CNM and the state’s community colleges have prepared students for successful careers, she said.
“I want students to succeed but also to create a path so that our children and our children’s children can have great opportunities in our beautiful state of New Mexico,” she said.
As a member of Congress, she would make sure local businesses know about the expanded funding for apprenticeships so that the CNM-to-work path is shortened and more productive.
She added that people should pay special attention to writing classes because anyone who can write has a job.
Although she listed her top three important issues as jobs, immigration, and health care, from her experience working in the N.M. Legislature, she said it’s frustrating that members of Congress can never really work on just their three top issues.
“You need to be prepared to deal with everything. . . . You must have an understanding of what these issues are about or go find out,” she said. “I’m fortunate to have a broad background.”
She noted that part of her experience is over 30 years of being in business and entrepreneurship.
Arnold-Jones said she seeks out voters she doesn’t know and who likely think they do not agree with her based on the color of her skin or party affiliation – Republican – so that she can gain many perspectives to help her make the best decision.
“What you see depends on where you sit!” is her mantra, she said.
“What I find at the door are core values that we share: faith in God, devotion to family, love of country. I am always amazed and grateful that, while at the door, New Mexicans will tell you the problems and how to fix them,” she said. They are usually right, and she works to act on that information.
“We are very successful at giving people confidence that while we may not agree 100 percent on every issue, they know I will listen and work to make the best decision for all New Mexicans and all Americans,” she said.
Arnold-Jones added as an end-note that she will stand against the concept of “guilty until proven innocent,” in the law and in the media, at every opportunity.