Saturday, March 20, 2010
Groundbreaking Legislator Eulogized at Capitol
By Dan Boyd
Journal Capitol Bureau
SANTA FE — David Salman fought to have mountain lions protected and once arranged to have one brought into the chambers of the New Mexico House of Representatives.
He sponsored New Mexico's nationally recognized public school funding equalization formula. He spearheaded the effort to have marijuana use legalized for relief of pain and suffering from debilitating illnesses.
But at his core, Salman was a Mora County rancher with a successful raspberry farm who just happened to have a keen mind for politics.
Salman, a Democrat who served in the House from 1969 to 1978, including eight years as majority leader, was remembered Friday in a memorial service in the Capitol rotunda as a politically fearless lawmaker.
"David fought hard for people," said former House Speaker Raymond Sanchez. "He knew how to get things done, and he worked hard at it."
Salman died on Feb. 28 at age 74. He was a key player in a loose-knit coalition of liberal and moderate Democrats — along with some Republicans — dubbed the Mama Lucy Gang that held sway in the House during the 1970s.
Salman's political career was set back by a 1974 automobile accident that led to years of reconstructive surgery.
However, his ongoing influence in New Mexico was noted Friday by current New Mexico legislative leaders.
House Majority Leader W. Ken Martinez, D-Grants, whose father served in the Legislature with Salman, said severance taxes on finite natural resources and the public school equalization funding formula were among the forward-thinking measures Salman helped put in place.
"His contribution to New Mexico wasn't just while he was here," Martinez said. "It's generation to generation."
Other initiatives Salman helped steer through the Legislature included a higher minimum-wage law, bilingual education and creation of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo.
"He did a lot of good for so many people," said Sanchez, who presided over Friday's service.
About 150 people attended the memorial in the Rotunda, including Gov. Bill Richardson and a number of members of the Mama Lucy Gang, named for a Las Vegas, N.M., restaurant owner who befriended the lawmakers.