January 11, 2019

Pencils down, turn in your letters: BernCo to pick Senate replacement


New Mexico State Senate.

Bernalillo County commissioners now have a list of 19 applicants to choose from to fill long-time legislator Cisco McSorley’s former Senate seat. The list included doctors, lawyers, political and community activists as well as two former congressional candidates from the 2018 election.

The Albuquerque Democrat resigned earlier this week after Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed him as director of the state’s Probation and Parole Division, under the state’s Department of Corrections. McSorley served in the state Legislature since 1984, first as a representative, then as a senator.

Update:The Bernalillo County Commission appointed Antoinette Sedillo Lopez.

About half of those who applied to fill the senate spot are women. There are currently 7 women in the state Senate.

Alex Bazan is Deputy Director of Emerge New Mexico, a group that recruits and trains Democratic women to run for public office. Bazan said her organization does not endorse candidates, but she hopes the Bernalillo County Commission appoints a woman to fill McSorley’s seat. Bazan cited the number of women who ran and were elected to office in 2018 as a sign that voters want more in office.

“With those outcomes we think it’s clear that New Mexicans are ready for new and fresh perspectives in government and we really think appointing a woman, with a diverse and relatable perspective, to this seat is an important step in making sure that all New Mexicans are truly represented in the state Senate,” Bazan said.

Equality New Mexico, an LGBTQ advocacy group, emailed  supporters, asking them to encourage county commissioners to pick a “queer woman of color” to fill the vacancy.

“New Mexicans need to be represented by someone who has a clear and compelling track record of being a champion for the LGBTQ+ community,” the group wrote. “Who better to do so than someone who has that lived experience?”

Several applicants wrote that they were part of the LBTQ community.

Marianna Anaya, the president of the Emerge New Mexico Board of Directors, submitted a letter of interest to County Commissioners. A graduate of both the University of Texas and UCLA and a former staffer for then-Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, Anaya said her life experiences can help her represent the state Senate district.

“Should I be selected to serve,” Anaya wrote. “My identity as a Latina who is a part of the LGBTQ community will not only increase representation for women, people of color and LGBTQ communities in office, but I believe it will serve as an asset in bridging communities on policy issues.”

Adriann Barboa, a community activist who recently helped lead a campaign in Albuquerque aimed at requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees, also applied for the position.

“My experience working for quality education for all our students, comprehensive sex education for youth, organizing and building with powerful young women of color and queer families, and shaping and passing policies that impact the daily lives of New Mexican families, has shown that my commitment and love for this district is unwavering,” Barboa wrote.

Two other notable applicants include Lloyd Princeton and Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, each of whom ran for Congress in 2018. Princeton, a Libertarian, faced Democratic U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland and Republican candidate Janice Arnold-Jones in the general election. Sedillo Lopez faced off with a long list of Democrats in the primary election, won by Haaland.

Princeton used his party affiliation as a selling point and said he would be anti-status quo.

“Your commission has a unique opportunity to make a difference in New Mexico and perhaps a bit of history as well,” Princeton wrote. “We know that our state had a clean sweep with Democratic nominees, many of whom are qualified and many of whom were placed to ‘punish Trump.’ As we now see with the government shutdown, has this really worked? ls divisiveness healing our country, garnering cooperation? I do not believe so.”

State legislators would not vote on the federal government shutdown, but Princeton also suggested that the state Legislature “is notorious for it’s (sic) “politics as usual’” and that it would be a “unique opportunity” if the Legislature saw its first Libertarian member.

Sedillo Lopez offered her 27 years as a professor at the University of New Mexico Law School, her work with an anti-domestic violence non-profit organization and various community activist roles as her qualifications. But, she said her “most comprehensive education” regarding community needs was from her run for Congress.

“I am grateful to have had such an enriching learning opportunity,” Sedillo Lopez wrote. “The experience will stay with me forever and I believe it makes me a strong candidate to serve in the New Mexico State Senate.”

The Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting on Monday at 10:00 a.m. at the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Center.

Below is the full list of applicants and their letters of interest. NM Political Report redacted personal information from those letters, such as addresses and phone numbers:

  • Marianna Anaya
  • Adriann Barboa
  • Steven Benge
  • Raul Candelaria
  • Julia Clark Downs
  • Jennifer Gomez-Chavez
  • Sam Howarth
  • Tommy Jewel
  • Pauline Lucero
  • Christopher Papaleo
  • Josh Price
  • Lloyd Princeton
  • Antoinette Sedillo-Lopez
  • Anjali Taneja
  • Martha Tiryaki
  • Andres Patrick Valdez
  • Chelsea Van Deventer
  • LeeAnna Vargas
  • Mauro A. Walden-Montoya