SANTA FE, N.M. — Democrat Liz Stefanics, currently a Santa Fe County commissioner and formerly a state senator from District 39, has formally announced her bid to regain the District 39 seat in next year’s elections.
The sprawling Senate district now includes parts of six counties: Bernalillo, Lincoln, San Miguel, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia.
Stefanics, of Madrid, has been elected to two four-year terms on the county commission and can’t seek a third term in 2016 due to mandated term limits. She won election to the District 39 Senate seat in 1992 and was narrowly defeated in her 1996 re-election bid by Phil Griego, in that year’s Democratic primary. She lost to Griego by 54 votes out of about 6,000 cast in the three candidate race.
Griego held the seat until March, when he resigned amid ethics complaints regarding his role in a Santa Fe real estate deal involving state property that the Senate approved last year. The various county commissions in the district made recommendations to fill the vacancy, and Stefanics – who said at the time that she would run for the seat in 2016 – was the choice of Democrat-controlled commissions in Santa Fe, Bernallilo and Valencia counties.
But Republican Gov. Susana Martinez chose Ted Barela, a former state Department of Transportation worker who served as mayor of Estancia from 2008 through 2013, to serve out Griego’s term through next year. Barela, a Republican, was nominated by the Torrance County Commission.
Stefanics also has worked as the deputy secretary of the state Human Services Department, as director of State Risk Management and as executive director of the state Health Policy Commission.
Stefanics has been a resident of New Mexico since 1982 when she moved to the state to teach at the University of New Mexico.
She earned a doctorate degree from the University of Minnesota, a masters degree from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Kentucky University. She has more than a decade of experience as an executive director of nonprofit organizations serving the elderly and disabled and providing HIV/AIDS services.