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Two counties nominate Ortez for Sen. Cisneros’ seat

SANTA FE – Kristina Ortez, executive director of the Taos Land Trust, on Tuesday won the endorsement of the governing boards of both Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties to fill the state Senate seat that became vacant when longtime Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D-Questa) died in September.

Ortez’s name will now be forwarded to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grishman, who will consider the recommendations of the four counties that include portions of Senate District 6 in appointing a new senator.

The Santa Fe County Commission voted 4-0 to nominate Ortez to the vacancy, with Commissioner Henry Roybal abstaining. The vote of the Los Alamos County Council was six for Ortez and one vote for state Rep. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales of Taos.

Gonzales last week was nominated by the Taos County Commission.

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Kristina Ortez observes at Tuesday\’s Santa Fe County Commission meeting during which she was nominated for the state Senate seat that became vacant upon the death of Sen. Carlos Cisneros (D-Questa) in September. (Eddie Moore/ Albuquerque Journal)

“I know that no one can replace the esteemed Senator Cisneros,” Ortez wrote in her application cover letter, “but I would be honored to take up the mantle of leadership in northern New Mexico.”

A Democrat, she listed her priorities as education, jobs, women’s health and self-determination, the environment and tribal sovereignty.

Santa Fe County Commission chairwoman Anna Hamilton said the selection of Ortez was difficult because of the quality of the applicants.

Also considered by the Santa Fe and Los Alamos county boards were Taos Mayor Dan Barrone and Gabriel Montoya, special projects director for Pojoaque Pueblo.

The Rio Arriba County Commission will make its pick on Thursday.

Gabriel Herrera, former facilities operations manager at Kirtland Air Force Base, and Bina Thompkins, an engineer by trade who now performs paralegal work at her husband’s Santa Fe law firm, also applied to Santa Fe County to be nominated, but their applications were turned in after the deadline.

Whomever is chosen by the governor will represent District 6 in the senate for less than one year. Voters in the district will get to choose their senator next November.

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