The late Rep. Phillip Archuleta was remembered Thursday as a champion of working people, as family, friends and fellow legislators gathered in the state Capitol to honor him.
Archuleta, a Democrat from Las Cruces, died Dec. 16 of complications from pneumonia. He had served in the state House since 2013.
Archuleta “was a champion of labor, and he was a Chicano civil rights champion,” recalled Rep. Miguel Garcia, D-Albuquerque, who served with him on the House Labor and Human Resources Committee.
Retired from more than two decades as a labor law administrator with the state, Archuleta was a tireless advocate for workers and veterans and had an impressively deep knowledge of labor law and related issues, his colleagues said.
He was active in the New Mexico chapter of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, and its program for children, speakers told a crowd in the Capitol rotunda.
Archuleta suffered from health problems last year; his leg was amputated and he missed the 2014 legislative session. House Speaker Ken Martinez, D-Grants, said Archuleta remained in constant touch during the 30-day session, and as he ran for re-election later in the year he campaigned door-to-door in his motorized wheelchair.
He was a lesson in “how to live life to the end, as full as it could possibly be,” Martinez said.
Archuleta lost the election in District 36 to Republican Andy Nuñez of Hatch.
Garcia said Archuleta understood that “labor unions are the cornerstone of the development of the middle class,” and he suggested that lawmakers honor his memory by fighting anti-union measures such as right-to-work bills that will be considered in the session that begins Jan. 20.