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Attorney appointed to open state House seat


Democrat Pamelya Herndon was appointed to fill a legislative vacancy on Tuesday. (Jim Thompson/ Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

The Bernalillo County Commission on Tuesday appointed attorney Pamelya Herndon to represent District 28 in the New Mexico House of Representatives, filling a vacancy created by Melanie Stansbury’s recent election to the U.S. Congress.

Herndon’s appointment is good until voters have their say on the seat, which will be on the 2022 ballot.

The president and CEO of the nonprofit KWH Law Center for Social Justice and Change, Herndon is also a former New Mexico assistant attorney general and onetime senior trial attorney for the Internal Revenue Service. She has been active in the Democratic Party of New Mexico, having served as its secretary.

She was one of eight who applied for the opening, though one dropped out prior to Tuesday’s special commission meeting. District 28 encompasses part of Northeast Albuquerque, roughly east of Morris between Constitution and Montgomery, including an area east of Tramway.

“I will represent every single person in this district; I will be a strong voice,” Herndon said after the commission voted 4-0 to appoint her.

Commission Chairwoman Charlene Pyskoty said she received nearly 300 emails about the appointment prior to Tuesday’s meeting; of the writers who live within the district, she said Herndon had the most backing.

Several Herndon supporters – including current state Sen. Martin Hickey, an Albuquerque Democrat, current Albuquerque City Councilor Diane Gibson, and former state Sen. Dede Feldman – spoke to her credentials during the meeting’s public comment session.

“A lot of people don’t exactly have the skills needed to be a legislator, but she has them,” Feldman told the commission. “She’s a lawyer, she’s an advocate, she knows how to build communities.”

The appointment of Herndon, a Democrat, won’t change the political composition of the House. Democrats held a 45-24 advantage over Republicans, in addition to one independent, during the regular and special sessions this year.

Republican lawmakers had represented House District 28 – covering a chunk of the Sandia foothills and Northeast Heights – for decades until Stansbury defeated incumbent Jimmie Hall in 2018.

The six other District 28 applicants considered in Tuesday’s meeting were: Bunnie Cruse, Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Marcie May, Michelle Peacock, Matt Powell and Thomas Stull.

Journal staff writer Dan McKay contributed to this report.

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