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Former Hispano Chamber CEO appointed UNM regent

Alex Romero

It looks like Alex Romero is finally in as a University of New Mexico regent – at least for the time being.

Romero, the former CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, told the Journal on Wednesday that Gov. Susana Martinez wrote him late Tuesday to say she had appointed him to serve on UNM’s governing board. The news came just hours after Jack Fortner resigned after three terms as a regent.

Romero is considered a “recess appointee,” meaning he can serve with full privileges for now but has not yet received Senate confirmation.

“It’s all fine and good that basically I’m in, but the bad news is that it’s only through … the next legislative session,” he said Wednesday of his status.

Romero said he planned to approach Senate leaders to request a Senate Rules Committee hearing soon. He said he wanted at least that assurance, even if full Senate confirmation did not come until the 2018 legislative session.

“The Senate Rules Committee hearing doesn’t necessarily have to happen this week; it can happen anytime. Assuming that’s a favorable recommendation out of that committee, it would be heard on the Senate floor at the next session,” he said. “But that’s really what I need: It really doesn’t do me much good to be appointed basically for the next eight months. I need a full appointment. I need a hearing.”

Regents serve six-year terms.

In February, the governor had nominated Romero to replace Fortner, whose term technically had expired last December. But the Senate Rules Committee failed to conduct a hearing on him, and several other Martinez board appointees, during the legislative session, drawing ire from the governor.

Regents with expired terms can continue serving until the Senate confirms their successor or they resign. Fortner initially decided to stay on the board, but changed his mind this week. He said he felt he had become a “distraction.”

Romero said he can serve immediately as regent but did not attend Wednesday’s budget summit. Given the very recent news of his appointment, Romero said he already had something scheduled for the afternoon.

The Governor’s Office did not respond to Journal questions about Romero’s appointment.

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