Sandy Hammack

Tara Jaramillo

Two Socorro County women hope to represent the newly drawn 38th District in New Mexico’s State House of Representatives.

The district is presently represented by Rebecca Dow, who did not run for reelection. The new district 38 includes Socorro, Sierra and Dona Ana counties.

The Candidates

Democrat Tara Jaramillo is a speech language pathologist who attended New Mexico State University. When her daughter was diagnosed with autism, Jaramillo could not find services for her, so she began Positive Outcomes to meet those needs. The business offers early intervention in schools, outpatient services and has a home care facility. Jaramillo serves on the Socorro Consolidated School District Board.

Republican Sandy Hammack was born and raised in the Luis Lopez area and lives in San Antonio. She’s done office work and worked as a beekeeper with her husband.

Recently they sold their calf cow operation to their son. Hammack is the former Socorro County Republican Party chairwoman.

On Education

Jaramillo supports constitutional amendment 1, which would provide more funding for education. She believes expanding funding for early childcare is a necessity.

“I like the analogy that was used that we can’t keep pulling people out of the river, we have to go upstream and figure out why they’re falling in,” said Jaramillo, “and that’s absolutely true because it can’t just be solved with education. It has to be solved with working with families.”

Jaramillo believes providing wrap around services to children is key to education policy — things like addressing substance abuse, domestic violence and child hunger. System changes, like broadband infrastructure, need to be invested in, said Jaramillo.

Hammack wants the state to work with industrial schools, because she believes those fields could help more people earn a better living.

She also said she’d like to shift school budgets so that more of the money is going into classroom supplies and less money is going to school administration. Hammack would also like more state funding for school resource officers.

Hammack is concerned about critical race theory but did not have a specific example of New Mexico history curriculum that she takes issue with.

“Let’s just say that I think history needs to be taught and I don’t believe in pinpointing any race,” said Hammack. “I think we should teach Native American history and I really feel like if you’ve taught New Mexico history, you could cover all your bases in that one and it would include every type of race, everything in that, without teaching kids that because they’re Native American, they’re different than my child who’s white or my child who is Spanish.”

Spending and Regulations

Jaramillo wants to reduce gross receipts tax, and especially target populations that are having difficulties by considering policy ideas like eliminating gross receipts tax on diapers. She’s also passionate about spending incoming federal funds on building up long-term infrastructure after witnessing many COVID deaths when she was living in Alamo during the pandemic.

“There’s this rainbow of money coming that we could change the infrastructure,” said Jaramillo. “It cannot be wasted. It cannot go into nonsense. It has to go into infrastructure so that if this happens again, we have enough hospitals, we have enough medical staff. We can quickly move to educating children at home. They won’t have to lose two years of education. There will be jobs. There will be water.”

Hammack wants to reduce regulations on the oil and gas industry. She thinks that could reduce the cost of natural gas.

“This would cause a trickle down from food producers and textile growers to freight costs from truck drivers. In turn, this would lower the prices at the grocery store, which would mean more money in our pockets,” said Hammack.

She also wants to lower the gross receipts tax, which she sees as especially burdensome for small business.

“We have large industries that want to come into New Mexico, that won’t come into New Mexico because of the gross receipts tax,” said Hammack. “The high tax, but yet we’re subsidizing the film industries to come in, and we shouldn’t be subsidizing anyone.”


Jaramillo would oppose any measures to restrict abortion access in New Mexico.

“I think a woman has to be able to make a choice,” said Jaramillo. “Whether that be a 12-year-old that’s been raped and molested, a woman that may have a pregnancy that is detrimental to her life, life threatening. Those choices need to be between that woman and her physician and that family, and I don’t believe in governmental intervention in the decisions of our family and having a child.”

Hammack would support a 15 or 20 week ban on abortions. She’d also like psychological services offered before and after an abortion.

“I’m personally pro-life but as a legislator, I will support common sense restrictions on abortion between 15 to 20 weeks, depending on what kind of legislation is brought forward,” said Hammack.

In the initial interview, Hammack said she wasn’t sure if she would support exceptions for rape or incest after 15 or 20 weeks and said the health of the mother is a fine line and may be a family decision. In a follow up text message exchange, Hammack clarified that she would not support exceptions for rape, incest or the health of the mother after 20 weeks.

Law Enforcement

Jaramillo said she’s not sure if bail should be brought back in New Mexico, but she does believe the time judges spend to decide if they should grant someone pretrial release should be extended.

“There are all sorts of systems and information that I believe need to go into play when we make a decision about holding somebody, and right now the system moves so quickly that a judge may not have access to that information or a DA may not have access to that information,” said Jaramillo.

While she’s concerned about arrestees’ rights, Jaramillo would like the focus to be back on victims.

“A child advocate and a family advocate, I also want to put a focus back on the victim’s rights and their trauma and revictimizing a family after an arrest and a release and an arrest and a release,” she said. “That’s detrimental to a family.”

Jaramillo thinks improved pay could improve the recruitment and retention of law enforcement officers at the local level.

Hammack wants the state to bring back bail, and not allow pretrial release for crimes like murder, robbery, and possession of large amounts of opioids.

“If somebody commits murder, they don’t have to pay bond, they can get out and some of that falls back on the judges,” said Hammack. “There are some people saying that maybe the judges need to decide if it’s mental health or whatever, but I think if they’re accused of murder, I think they should be retained, not released.”

She’s also concerned about mental health support.

“There’s a lot of issues out there, but we need mental health help drastically,” said Hammack. “A lot of times that’s a lot of our issues with the crime. Homelessness, all of that falls into that category.”

Hammack also wants the state legislature to repeal the Medical Malpractice Act, which changed medical malpractice law to increase the cap on medical malpractice, and to roll back the ban on qualified immunity, which makes it easier to sue law enforcement. She thinks that could help retain law enforcement officers.

Why Vote for Her?

Jaramillo didn’t expect to run for office, but after living in Alamo during the pandemic for 18 months and witnessing the number of COVID deaths she felt compelled to run.

“I believe it’s my experience and my ability to bring community partnerships together and I really believe that that is the role of a representative, is to not just listen to what everybody’s needs are, but to help problem solve it,” said Jaramillo.

Hammack thinks legislators and government officials need to stop fighting and compromise if necessary, but not to the point that it would cost constituents thousands in taxes.

“I have integrity. I’m honest. I’ve lived in New Mexico all of my life,” said Hammack. “I understand New Mexicans. We may not always agree, but we can always be friends.”

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, and early voting has already begun.