As the state ushers in the 54th New Mexico Legislature, starting on January 15th 2019, there are areas of continuity, but also several changes that will create a new governing body. As such, Viante New Mexico has summarized key changes in leadership and provided a list of new faces that will be in attendance at the Roundhouse.
New Mexico’s legislative branch is made up of 112 elected officials: 70 Representatives and 42 Senators. Each chamber has its own structure of leadership that ensures the flow of business is conducted smoothly, while also ensuring each political party’s interests are heard.
About New Mexico’s House of Representatives and Key Roles
In the House of Representatives, Brian Egolf will retain the position of Speaker of the House. The Speaker of the House is the single most powerful role in this chamber. It is Speaker Egolf’s responsibility to appoint representatives to each of the 17 house standing committees and to name the chair and vice chair of each committee. He is also the presiding officer of the House, which means he controls its procedures. The House of Representatives’ leadership structure also has a set of majority and minority leaders and whips. For the House Democrats, Representative Sheryl Williams Stapleton will remain the Majority Floor Leader, and Representative Doreen Y. Gallegos will continue as Majority Whip. For House Republicans, newly appointed Representative Jim Townsend will be the Minority Floor Leader, while Representative Rod Montoya will continue as the Minority Whip.
About New Mexico’s Senate and Key Roles
The Senate Chamber is structured differently. Instead of having an individual making decisions, Senate Committees determine assignments and name chairs and co-chairs. The Senate has kept Mary Kay Papen as the President Pro Tempore. In this role, she acts as the Senate Committee’s Chair and will preside over the Senate floor session in the absence of the President. The President is Lieutenant Governor-Elect, Senator Howie Morales. As a member of the Executive Body, he only votes in the event of a tie. Like the House of Representatives, the Senate has a majority and minority leadership structure. The Majority Floor leader will continue to be Senator Peter Wirth, with Senator Mimi Stewart serving as the Majority Whip. For the Republican Party, Senator Stuart Ingle will remain Minority Floor Leader, alongside Senator William H. Payne as the Minority Whip.
A Wave Of Change
House of Representatives
With all 70 House seats up for election, the 2018 midterm election brought with it a wave of change to the Legislature. For the past two years, House democrats have had a majority over the Republicans with a 38-32 advantage. Now, going into the 54th Legislature, Democrats command a 46–24 lead. With this change also comes 20 new freshman representatives:
- Representative-elect Anthony Allison – San Juan County
- Representative-elect Dayan M. Hochman-Vigil – Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Abbas A. Akhil – Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Gregg Schmedes – Bernalillo, Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties
- Representative-elect William Pratt- Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Melanie Ann Stansbury – Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Joy Garratt – Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Natalie Figueroa – Bernalillo County
- Representative-elect Micaela Cadena – Dona Ana County
- Representative-elect Raymundo Lara – Dona Ana County
- Representative-elect Joseph Sanchez – Colfax, Mora, Rio Arriba, and San Miguel Counties
- Representative-elect Susan Herrera – Rio Arriba, Santa Fe and Taos Counties
- Representative-elect Christine Chandler – Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval and Santa Fe Counties
- Representative-elect Andrea Romero – Santa Fe County
- Representative-elect Rachel Black – Otero County
- Representative-elect Willie Madrid – Otero and Dona Ana Counties
- Representative-elect Martin Zamora – Curry, DeBaca, Guadalupe, Roosevelt, and San Miguel Counties
- Representative-elect Phelps Anderson – Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt Counties
- Representative-elect Jackey O. Chatfield – Colfax, Curry, Harding, Quary, Roosevelt, San Miguel and Union Counties
- Representative-elect Karen Bash – Bernalillo County
The Senate will also see a slight change with Republican Senator Carroll Leavell retiring after nearly 22 years in public office, Senator Howie Morales vacating his Senate position as the newly elected Lieutenant Governor, and Senator Cisco McSorley of Bernalillo County vacating his seat for a state cabinet position. Before leaving office, Governor Susana Martinez appointed Gregg Fuelfer a Jal, New Mexico rancher and business owner to fill Senator Leavell’s position. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is expected to name Gabriel Ramos to Lt. Governor Morales’s seat as a result of Ramos being nominated by Soccoro, Catron, and Grant Countries – all counties that fall within this seat’s district. The person who will fill Senator McSorley’s seat is pending the nomination by Bernalillo County and further confirmation of Governor Lujan Grisham. These appointments and the presumed appointment of a democrat to Senator McSorley’s seat leaves the Senate with a 26-16 composition favoring Democrats.
Here at Viante, we are excited to take an active role in the 54th Legislature. We are focused on identifying legislators working toward common ground solutions in the areas of education, crime and quality of life. Together, we are confident we will create a way forward for New Mexico.