Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
You have probably heard of going home for the holidays.
But what about going to the House for the holidays?
The Bernalillo County Commission is seeking someone to represent West Side Albuquerque in the New Mexico House of Representatives for the last 2½ weeks of December. The county on Friday opened applications for the brief assignment filling an existing vacancy. Whomever the commission appoints during its Dec. 14 meeting will serve only through Dec. 31.
The commission will then likely have to repeat the entire process in early 2023 to fill the same House 16 seat for another two years.
The unconventional arrangement is the result of an unusually timed resignation and a new county policy.
Antonio “Moe” Maestas was the last person to represent District 16. He resigned his position in a Nov. 16 letter to the New Mexico Secretary of State. He left the House to swap chambers after accepting an appointment to the state Senate.
But Maestas had, just the week before, won reelection to anther two-year term in the House. It starts Jan. 1, 2023.
When Maestas attempted to resign his House seat through the end of 2024, the state elections director told him the term he was vacating actually ended Dec. 31, 2022. He will have to separately resign his new term once it is slated to begin.
So, why would the commission take the time to accept applications and hold a special meeting to appoint someone to serve just over two weeks of Maestas’ waning term if it will have to do the same thing again so soon? The next legislative session does not convene until Jan. 17.
A county spokeswoman cited a resolution the commission passed last month. It requires the county to fill legislative vacancies within three weeks of receiving official Secretary of State notice of an empty seat. That proposal came after a highly contentious commission battle over the timeline for appointing someone to the sate Senate seat the commission later gave to Maestas.
County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada sponsored the timeline bill, which passed on a narrow 3-2 vote. Quezada did not return a message Friday about the current situation, but said in supporting his legislation last month that “We cannot have a district unrepresented – not even for a day.”
In addition, new House district boundaries take effect Jan. 1, meaning the pool of potential applicants could change, a county spokesman noted.
Applicants interested in the December appointment must submit a letter of interest and résumé by noon Dec. 9. They are accepted via an email to email@example.com or via mail to Bernalillo County Manager’s Office, Attn: Julie Morgas Baca, County Manager, 415 Silver SW, 8th Floor, Albuquerque, N.M., 87102.