Former legislator Lidio Rainaldi dies at age 90 - Albuquerque Journal

Former legislator Lidio Rainaldi dies at age 90

Former New Mexico State Sen. Lidio Rainaldi

SANTA FE – Former state Sen. Lidio Rainaldi, a conservative Democrat from Gallup, died last weekend at age 90.

The son of Italian immigrants, Rainaldi served two terms in the Senate – from 2001 through 2008 – after a lengthy career as both a municipal and state judge.

“He was a gentleman’s gentleman,” said former Senate Democratic floor leader Michael Sanchez of Belén. “He was from the old school – if he gave you his word and you shook hands, there was no question he would stick to it.”

Sanchez described Rainaldi as a hard-working senator who was often the first to arrive for legislative committee hearings and the last to leave. Rainaldi also provided valuable expertise on legal and judicial matters in Senate debates, Sanchez said.

As a judge, Rainaldi created several initiatives aimed at curbing alcoholism rates in the Gallup area, including a DWI school and a protective custody program allowing police to pick up individuals passed out from intoxication in public places and temporarily hold them in jail so they could be released the next morning.

Some of those programs were eventually adopted statewide, his son Lidio Rainaldi Jr. said.

His son also said Lidio Rainaldi had married thousands of Gallup couples over the years and was often approached in public by individuals who remembered him as the officiant of their marital vows.

Former Gallup Mayor Harry Mendoza said Rainaldi devoted his career to helping the Gallup community, citing the ex-senator’s role in getting a new Gallup courthouse and dialysis center built as two examples.

“In all the years I knew Lidio, I never saw him raise his voice or get mad at anyone,” Mendoza told the Journal.

During his time in the Senate, Rainaldi sponsored legislation dealing with requirements for commercial drivers, how the Supreme Court elects its chief justice and other court-related issues.

He occasionally opposed bills backed by most fellow Democrats, including proposals authorizing medical marijuana and giving gay and lesbian couples the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.

Rainaldi also pushed during debate over repealing New Mexico’s death penalty to keep capital punishment on the table for those convicted of killing police officers. That proposal was not adopted when the death penalty was ultimately eliminated in 2009.

Rainaldi had been in declining health in the months leading up his Dec. 21 death, friends and family members said.

Rosary will be recited at 6 p.m. Dec. 29 at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Gallup, with a funeral Mass to be held at the same location at 10:45 a.m. Dec. 30.

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