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SANTA FE – Reena Szczepanski, the House speaker’s chief of staff and a former executive for the Drug Policy Alliance, launched a campaign Friday for the legislative seat that will be vacated by her boss, Speaker Brian Egolf.
Szczepanski, a Democrat, is influential behind the scenes at the Legislature, where she has served as Egolf’s chief of staff.
Before joining the House, she worked as executive director at Emerge New Mexico, which trains Democratic women interested in public office, and as state director of the Drug Policy Alliance, where she worked on medical marijuana legislation.
“I am a mom and the daughter of immigrants,” Szczepanski said in a written statement, “and I know how hard it can be to navigate the system to get the services that your children need. My work in the legislature has contributed to major victories for working families, our environment, women, and children.”
Egolf stunned lawmakers this week by announcing that he wouldn’t run for reelection this year. He said he wants to spend more time with his wife and daughters.
The open seat may attract other candidates in a heavily Democratic district that covers part of Santa Fe and northern New Mexico. House District 47 stretches from the opera down through Santa Fe and over to Glorieta.
Filing day is March 8, and the primary election is June 7.
All 70 seats in the House are on the ballot this year. Candidates will run in the districts newly redrawn to reflect census data.
Szczepanski’s parents immigrated from India. She is a former president of the New Mexico Public Health Association and chair of the Santa Fe County Health Policy and Planning Commission.