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State lawmaker resigns, will run for county sheriff

New Mexico state Rep. Patricio Ruiloba has resigned from his Albuquerque-area seat and will run for Bernalillo County sheriff, the Democrat said Tuesday.

He told The Associated Press he submitted his resignation letter to the New Mexico secretary of state and will begin organizing his campaign in the most populous county in the state.

The 53-year-old retired Albuquerque police officer said he has been urged to run for sheriff by residents concerned about rising crime, and conflicts between law enforcement and communities of color.

“I’ve worked for several units when I worked for Albuquerque police, so I have the experience,” said Ruiloba, who was removed from the June 2 Democratic primary ballot after he did not follow the procedure in collecting qualifying petition signatures. “I’ve also been a community leader and I’m willing to listen.”

Current Democratic Sheriff Manny Gonzales has faced criticism for a rise in deputy shootings and for stalling on requiring deputies to wear body cameras.

The next election for sheriff is in 2022, but Gonzales can’t run again because of term limits and said he is considering a run for mayor of Albuquerque.

No other candidates have publicly announced their intent to run for sheriff.

Last month, Gonzales was criticized after telling reporters he was looking to partner with a company so deputies can put smartphones in their vests and record video.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently signed a bill requiring all law enforcement to wear body cameras. But Gonzales calls the current technology archaic and says it’s too costly.

Two Black women from Wisconsin are suing Gonzales and two deputies, alleging racial and religious profiling during a traffic stop in 2017, the Albuquerque Journal reports.

The Sheriff’s Office declined to comment to the AP on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit came about five months after Bernalillo County reached a $100,000 settlement with another Black woman who filed a lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office after she was pulled over three times in 28 days by the same deputies named in the new lawsuit.