3 ABQ lawmakers run for House majority leader - Albuquerque Journal

3 ABQ lawmakers run for House majority leader

In this file photo, the House gallery sits empty. at the Roundhouse. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — The resignation of Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton amid a criminal investigation shook up Democrats in the state House last week.

But now the race is on to replace her as majority leader, the second-highest post in the House, just under Speaker Brian Egolf of Santa Fe.

At least three Albuquerque Democrats — Reps. Miguel P. Garcia, Javier Martinez and Elizabeth Thomson — are running to replace Stapleton as majority leader.

Martinez, chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, has been at the center of some of the biggest legislative debates in recent years.

He successfully carried legislation, for example, to revise income taxes, legalize cannabis and seek voter approval to withdraw more money from the land grant permanent fund.

“I’ve got relationships across the political aisle,” Martinez said in an interview, “from progressives to conservatives and everybody in between.”

Thomson, chairwoman of the Consumer and Public Affairs Committee, is known for her work to improve programs that serve developmentally disabled adults and children.

She has carried bills to strengthen lobbyist disclosures, expand insurance coverage for autism and target human trafficking.

“Our caucus is strong — no doubt — but we’ve been rocked essentially, and we need some time to heal,” said Thomson, a physical therapist. “I think I might be the right person to” address that.

Garcia, chairman of the House Local Government, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee, played a key role in legislation raising the minimum wage in New Mexico and allowing immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses regardless of their legal status.

A retired teacher, he noted that he has served in the House for 24 years, tied for the longest tenure of any current members.

“My lifelong commitment to social justice, civil and human rights, anti-discrimination, labor rights, immigrant rights, native language rights, voting rights, and Chicano land and water rights brings vast knowledge to our Caucus,” Garcia said in a written statement.

Stapleton hasn’t been charged with a crime and unequivocally denies wrongdoing.

She resigned Friday as law enforcement agents conducted a criminal investigation into possible kickbacks and violations of the Governmental Conduct Act

 

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