Counties to fill vacant state Senate seat

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 10/4/19

As the state says farewell to Senator Carlos Cisneros, one question remains in the minds of lawmakers, who will replace the veteran senator? 

Constituents in Taos, Santa Fe, Río Arriba and …

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Counties to fill vacant state Senate seat

Posted

As the state says farewell to Senator Carlos Cisneros, one question remains in the minds of lawmakers, who will replace the veteran senator? 

Constituents in Taos, Santa Fe, Río Arriba and Los Alamos counties are currently without Senate representation in Santa Fe. While the Legislature is not currently in session, the office of the governor will have to fill the empty seat and appoint someone to represent District 6.

“The county commission has not met formally or informally to discuss a replacement,” said Taos County Manager Brent Jaramillo. 

According to Tripp Stelnicki, director of communications for the governor’s office, counties in the district will submit their choice for the vacant seat and those candidates will individually meet with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham before she makes the appointment. 

“We're eager to see those nominees come up from the counties,” Stelnicki said in an email. 

Taos town councilor Darien Fernandez had previously discussed his intentions to run against Cisneros, but recently withdrew his name in support of Kristina Ortez, executive director of the Taos Land Trust. 

“Ortez will stand with all New Mexicans and clearly stands with the values of our district,” Fernandez said in a letter. “I cannot in good conscience stand in the way of such a candidate who shares my values, our district’s and state’s values, and will make the state Senate more inclusive and representative of New Mexico.” 

Ortez holds a degree in anthropology from Harvard and a master's in public administration from the University of New Mexico. Her time at the Taos Land Trust has seen the development of the Río Fernando Park as well as the revitalization of the Vigil y Romo acequia. 

After attending a recent Women in Leadership conference, she began thinking about running for the position. At the moment, Ortez is seeking the nomination for the vacant District 6 seat.   

“I didn’t think this would happen so fast,” Ortez said. “Now that I’m in it, I’m thrilled about it. I’m ready to serve.” 

Ortez admits that filing Cisneros’ shoes is a big role, but she is confident that she will bring a new face and new experience to the position. 

“I never will replace him,” she said of Cisneros. “I'm grateful for all that he has done for our communities all over the district, especially Taos.”

There are no deadlines for the governor to abide by when filling the vacancy and the appointed person does not have to be of the same party as the former chair holder. Ortez is a Democrat, and said she will be keeping her options open if she is not selected for the position. 

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