Name: Ruby Martinez
Biography: Ruby Martinez holds a M.S. (Nursing Administration), a post M.S. certificate (Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing), and Ph.D. in Nursing from the University of Colorado. In her career, Ruby held several nursing positions at the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan before taking a faculty position at the University of Colorado. Martinez taught psychiatric nursing, conducted research on run-away teenagers, and received several teaching awards before retiring from CU as Associate Professor Emeriti.
From 2006-2009, Martinez practiced as a manager at Denver Health on both the adolescent and adult psychiatry units. In her career, she served on a national board (Center for Mental Health Services-SAMHSA) and is a founding member of the National Latino Behavioral Health Association. Dr. Martinez is the Board Chair for the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence and will soon join the Board of Directors at Parker Adventist Hospital.
When it comes to funding school districts and paying teachers in Colorado – How do you think we stack up on a national level? What do you think should be done at the state level to address the problems teachers and schools are facing?
With an understanding that there can be small fluctuations in these numbers, Colorad ranks 9th in the nation in per capita income, but only 39th in the nation in per pupil revenue/operating expenses. This tells me that as a state, we have the resources to fund our schools and pay teachers but not under our current system. We must recognize that teachers are essential to the schools in Colorado. It takes an intelligent, caring person to write creative lesson plans, to make a lesson interesting, to make homework challenging, all while monitoring classroom behavior, and assessing overall growth of students. Schools and teachers open the doors of opportunity for our youth, which in turn, opens the possibility of a more prosperous and civilized nation.
Mental health continues to be a problem in Colorado and nationwide – What should be done at the state level to address the youth mental health crisis and to continue increasing help for adults?
Colorado needs sufficient inpatient hospital beds and step-down beds to meet the needs of our child, adolescent and adult populations. When someone is in crisis, these are the facilities that have the controlled environment and the qualified staff to keep people safe. Lives are saved when those in crisis get the help they need. There is also a shortage of psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, and nurses who choose to work in this demanding field. Efforts to delay retirements of seasoned clinicians, as well as efforts to educate these health care providers is essential. We must also build in resources that are highly accessible to high risk populations, such as mental health services for parents and youth in schools. Again, prevention is the most cost effective way of solving this problem. Prevention includes de-stigmatizing mental illness, understanding that how we interact with each other impacts our mental health, and learning self care (e.g., how to care for yourself to be healthy, healthy environments, healthy others).
Inflation, gas prices and the economy continue to be an issue in 2022 – Families are paying extra for everything. What can and should be done in Colorado to help families?
It's important to recognize that our government does not regulate the free market and the cause of inflation is complex with many moving parts. During times of economic downturn, we all feel the pain of higher prices, but we need to pay particular attention to the needs of our community’s most vulnerable groups. Our elderly on fixed incomes or low income or single parents families living paycheck to paycheck may be faced with the choice between paying for food, rent, or gas to get to their job. For those of us that have the means, increasing our support for organizations such as food banks, Meals on Wheels, the energy assistance program and many others can be life altering for those in need.
If elected, can you work on a bi-partisan level to pass bills and address the needs of the Colorado population as a whole and not just live along party lines? Give examples of where you could compromise.
Finding common ground through compromise has become a rare occurrence in this time of hyper-partisanism. The increased polarization between Republicans and Democrats has created legislative gridlock and distrust back and forth. Our communities and our legislators need to build civil relationships, develop empathy for others and their views, and be able to disagree without being disrespectful. Compromise is not a failure and I think I am a good listener and a fair-minded person. I have Republicans, Unaffiliated and Democratic voters working on my campaign and I feel proud of that. We talk honestly and don't expect to fully agree on anything. What we can agree on is that we need people in government who will solve problems and stand up for our citizens.
Housing affordability and homelessness have become a state and nationwide issue. What can be done at the state level to address the growing problem?
Homelessness must be addressed on a national level so that populations stay in place and don't migrate to more friendly cities. My goal would be that those who want to be housed should be able to work toward that, and those who do not, can live on the streets but we need boundaries and services so that we don't have people toileting in public, and bathing in our creeks. Consider that the needs of the person who has just lost their home is very different from the person who has lived on the streets with no employment for years. I think shelters are necessary but the goal should be short term use with an expectation of gaining employment and eventually living independently again. States can provide certain services for people who are homeless such as mental health services, safe places to sleep, and personal care such as public laundry, showers, and toilets. It is really important that as a society, we help people stay in their homes.
Crime is quickly becoming a major concern in Colorado. With Colorado ranking first in the nation for car thefts, and major crimes on the rise- what do state lawmakers need to do to help fix the problem?
Over the last 40 years Colorado's population has increased well over 300% (1.35 million to 5.68 million), and, especially along the Front Range, we are increasingly experiencing issues related to other metropolitan areas - including increased crime. There are no easy answers or comprehensive solutions to this problem. I know that people work hard to earn their belongings and we cannot allow car thefts to escalate without appropriate consequences.
As a mental health specialist, I know that people that have a sense of belonging and are treated well by their community don’t tend to victimize it. Providing social support for struggling families, quality education and job skills training can give people options and opportunities that make crime a less attractive way to make a living. Prevention is more cost effective than punishment strategies but we need both strategies working at the same time.
Public trust in government, elections and public health are at an all-time low – What should state and federal lawmakers be doing differently to change public perception?
Distrust is a consequence of our elected officials and our media prioritizing partisan agendas and opinions over truth. The accepted, and it seems, expected standard of behavior for politicians has become one of contempt and open hostility toward anyone with an opposing viewpoint. I cannot think of a more pertinent or timely example of shameless deceit than the big lie. In the almost two years since the election, with over 60 court challenges and numerous investigations, absolutely no evidence of any systemic voter fraud or conspiracy has ever been uncovered. This is a good example of how lies can have bad outcomes. People were hurt, and some died on Jan. 6.
In office, I plan to build trust the way I have always done, by seeking facts, consulting with knowledgeable others who have insight into the problem we hope to solve, and offering information when I hear rumors. I treat others respectfully and I expect it back. Leaders must be as transparent as possible, willing to see all sides of an issue, and never hesitating to say "I don't know- but I can find out!"
Water rights and water availability are becoming an issue for counties and local municipalities – what can the state do to create a strategic plan that works for all?
Record breaking increases in temperature, especially over the last 20 years, has created unprecedented drought conditions along the Colorado River system and for all who depend on it for drinking water, agriculture, industry and recreation. Logically then, any local, state or national efforts to address the climate change crisis is essential. Historically, here in CO, agriculture uses a little over 85% of all available water supplies for the state. We must support our farmers as they transition to new methods of irrigation, use of hydroponics, making changes in types of crops and cover crops and other water saving interventions.