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Editorial: It’s best if appointees represent constituents

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Democratic legislative leaders want Gov. Susana Martinez to stick to party lines when she picks a replacement for recently deceased Rep. Stephen Easley.

She should – Democrat Rhonda King held the seat for seven terms before deciding to leave the Roundhouse, and voters in Santa Fe, Bernalillo, Valencia and Torrance counties picked Easley to succeed her.

It’s likely Martinez’s choices will consist mainly of Democrats, but she almost certainly will have a GOP option. Three of the four county commissions in the district have Democrat majorities, but Torrance County does not.

Those Democrats urging partisan continuity should not forget what happened in 2012, when the only name Martinez was given by the Democrat-controlled Bernalillo and Sandoval county commissions for a historically Republican seat in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights was Democrat Lisa Curtis.

That was a disservice to that area’s constituents, who for almost a decade had routinely elected a Republican to represent them in Santa Fe.

And there was nary a peep of protest from legislative Democrats who welcomed Curtis, a trial lawyer, with open arms and much fanfare. Curtis was summarily defeated by a Republican candidate when she attempted to keep her seat in the next election.

Martinez spokesman Enrique Knell says “as she does with all nominations, the governor will look for the most qualified candidate to serve and represent (Easley’s) district.”

Those qualifications should include sharing a political ideology with the majority of the district’s constituents. Turnabout is not fair play, and voters who have lost their duly elected representation deserve someone who at least has a shot of winning their votes.

On the other hand, Democrats have handed Martinez a perfect opportunity with their mantra of “only you should play fair.”

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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