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Editorial: City on solid legal footing

South Valley native Jessica Hernandez has a resume that reads like a Tiger Mother’s dream: She went through Rio Grande High, the University of New Mexico and UNM Law School by the age of 21, graduating cum laude and became the youngest member of the State Bar of New Mexico. She landed a job with a prestigious local law firm, clerked for a federal judge, subsequently became a director with the law firm, left to be the governor’s counsel and then added the duties of deputy chief of staff.

And now she’s the go-to lawyer for the most populous city in the state.

Mayor Richard Berry, who put forth her nomination as the next city attorney, said he was “beyond thrilled that she would see fit to be our next designee…” And the City Council unanimously confirmed her last week. It is an important and unique post in which she represents the municipal corporation – in essence that includes the mayor, the council and the taxpayers.

Hernandez emphasized her independence to councilors and went back to her education and experience (which includes the very useful areas of employment, insurance and other civil litigation), pledging to deliver the best legal advice she can to all of Albuquerque’s elected leaders.

Hernandez’s job is to give independent legal advice. She does not serve at the pleasure of the mayor or the Council and can only be fired for cause. When she met with Journal editors and reporters earlier this month her parting comment was that she planned “to focus on solutions. The goal is to find the best way to get to where you’re going.”

That calm and reasoned approach bodes well for the Mayor’s Office, the City Council and Albuquerque residents and taxpayers.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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