Some counties are moving quickly to choose a replacement for former state senator Phil Griego after his resignation on Saturday.As New Mexico Political Report outlined on Saturday, each of the six counties will make a selection and Gov. Susana Martinez will choose which to appoint to fill out the remainder of Griego’s term.
The person who Martinez chooses will finish this legislative session, represent District 39 throughout the interim and in the 2016 30-day legislative session.
A spokesman for Martinez told the Albuquerque Journal that that the governor wants a replacement as quickly as possible. The 2015 legislative session ends on Saturday at noon, with just six pieces of legislation headed to the governor’s desk.
At issue is the Open Meetings Act, which requires 72-hour notice for all meetings except in case of emergency. An emergency, the Open Meetings Act says, is to prevent “injury or damage to persons or property or substantial financial loss to the public body.”
The Santa Fe New Mexican, citing a spokesman for the governor, reported that at least three counties have called emergency meetings for Sunday. Dan Boyd of the Albuquerque Journal said four of the six counties scheduled emergency meetings.
There are six total counties with parts of District 39. The Bernalillo county Commission will meet at noon on Wednesday to choose a replacement.
— Bernalillo County (@BernCounty) March 15, 2015
The New Mexico Foundation for Open Government, a group dedicated to open government that pushed for the 72-hour notice rule, tweeted about the issue on Sunday shortly after noon.
— NMFOG (@nmfog) March 15, 2015
Democrats currently have a 24-17 advantage in the chamber, though a bloc of conservative Democrats generally serve as swing votes on the floor.
Martinez replaced former Rep. Stephen Easley, who passed away midway through his only term in office, with a Republican, Vickie Perea. Perea lost in the next election to a Democrat, Matthew McQueen of Galisteo.
The opposite has also happened. When Kent Cravens left the Senate to become a lobbyist for the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, the Bernalillo and Sandoval County Commissions each chose Democrat Lisa Curtis to replace Cravens.
With no choice, Martinez appointed Curtis to finish Cravens’ term. Curtis lost to Sen. Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque, in the next election.
This story originally referred to Senator Mark Moores by the wrong first name. We regret the error.