Heir apparent to Candelaria Senate seat undecided
Who is the heir apparent to the Senate seat that State Senator Jacob Candelaria just vacated? And who will be his replacement at the Bernalillo Departmental Commission? These questions are still unresolved.
It’s a rare event and a big deal when a Senate seat is vacated with two years left in its term and Commissioners Bernalillo must appoint a replacement. If you wish to apply for this seat, you still can. You can thank Commission Chair Adriann Barboa and District 1 County Commissioner Debbie O’Malley for the fact that the title of this article does not read “Rep. Antonio ‘Moe’ Maestas replaces Senator Candelaria on Halloween.
O’Malley asks voters for more time to run for Senate seat
At its regular meeting last week, the question of the appointment of Candelaria’s replacement caused tempers to flare. When three commissioners tried to overturn Barboa’s decision to set the date for the vote on replacing the Senate seat on November 18 (they wanted to have the vote on October 31), O’Malley was ready to clash with them. She demanded that the commission give her voters more than four days to decide whether they wanted to submit a candidacy for the seat.
It looked like Maestas, who had been campaigning for the seat for two months, had the votes to seal the deal to become the district’s new senator by simply applying. Candelaria also threw his weight behind Maestas as a substitute.
There is no explicit timeline for a county to fill a vacant legislative seat, and the New Mexico legislature does not begin voting until the 2023 legislative session which begins Jan. 17. Unless it is an emergency, it is the President of the Commission who sets the date for appointing a replacement. Barboa said the November 18 date would give the public ample time to apply for the Senate seat.
Bernalillo County District 5 Commissioner Charlene Pyskoty, with the support of Commissioners Steven Michael Quezada and Walt Benson, wanted to expedite the process and have a replacement named Oct. 31. Debbie O’Malley, who wanted a say in the timing of the nomination, has most of New Mexico’s Senate District 26 in her district, protested such an early date saying it was a turnaround too fast.
“I’m really disappointed that Commissioner Pyskoty would do something like this, which I think is extremely disrespectful and rude,” O’Malley said. In a heated exchange after the reunion, O’Malley called Pyskoty a “bitch” and had words with Pyskoty’s assistant. Joe Noriega. Steven Michael Quezada asks O’Malley to resign immediately and Pyskoty seeks a lawyer. Pyskoty and O’Malley’s terms as commissioners end Dec. 31. O’Malley cannot run again due to term limits, and Pyskoty lost his seat in the primary.
A Facebook post from O’Malley said she regretted confronting Commissioner Pyskoty when she was angry. However, she posted, she owns what she said about the date, although she should have been more tactful and toned it down a bit. O’Malley said she has no regrets standing up for her constituents “against attempts to secure a two-year political appointment, to appease a senator, a representative and a corporate lobbyist who have been plotting this for a year”. O’Malley’s post said the Senate vacancy had just become known and no formal nomination process had been made public. She also said that “the date of the rush vote reeks of insider gambling and backroom deals.”
The paper. spoke to O’Malley, who said Rep. Maestas has been campaigning for the seat for months now. “I was a little surprised because it’s my district. There’s no rush, we should take some time. I think it was important to do this because very few people know about the Senate seat and should have the opportunity to apply, she explained.
“I thought setting the date like that violated the open meeting law. If you want three people to agree on something like this, it should be posted on the agenda as an action item. In this way, the public has the opportunity to intervene. It is important. This is a seat in the Senate for two years. These don’t come back very often. It didn’t qualify as an emergency meeting,” O’Malley said.
O’Malley sought legal advice at the commissioners’ meeting on who should set the date and the legal opinion was that the chairman had the right to do so. “He (legal counsel) came out and talked about breaking the open meeting law. The date of the Senate appointment should be on the agenda as an action item. She said Quezada asked for a second opinion and another attorney’s second opinion was the same.
O’Malley told the newspaper that she regretted confronting Pyskoty when she was angry, but received only positive emails supporting her continued presence on the council. “I didn’t say anything behind his back. Whatever I said was in his face. There’s no doubt that I said it because I was really angry. Of those who saw Quezada on TV asking me to quit, I haven’t received a single message telling me to quit. I just got letters of support, that’s all. Nobody said anything critical like “You shouldn’t have done it. Nothing.”
Track money and voting records
Maestas’ wife, Vanessa Alarid, is a well-known lobbyist and has lobbied for Western Albuquerque Land Holdings (WAHL), the original developers of Santolina, a Santa Fe-sized west side housing development against which community members fought for the past. nine years. Groups that have fought the development are against Maestas’ appointment to the seat, alleging a conflict of interest.
In an email to The paper., Maestas said, “Santoline is the boogie man that Debbie O’Malley and Neri Holguin use to try and steal the Senate District 26 seat from Mitch McConnell…. Apparently, democracy does not work for the ultra-left.
“For what it’s worth, land use, water use and zoning are local issues,” Maestas’ email said. “The state legislature does not vote on land use, water use, or zoning.”
Maestas may wish to inform the Legislators galore and a slew of environmental groups who were angry at the tabling of joint resolution HJR 2 Green Amendment in the 2021 legislative session or the Rio Grande Water Safety Act and Water Data Act, to name a few bills that directly affect local water use. The legislature makes all laws, declares war, regulates interstate and foreign commerce, and controls taxation and spending policies. Legislative bills affect state residents at the state and local level.
In the past, as a state representative, Maestas has voted on bills that Alarid gets paid for, such as a New Mexico lottery bill designed to reduce the amount of money guaranteed for university scholarships financed by the proceeds of the lottery. Alarid lobbied a lottery vendor to support the bill.
Alarid also helped fund Pyskoty’s re-election bid. According to campaign finance reports, Alarid’s consulting firm made the largest contribution to Pyskoty’s unsuccessful bid in the 2022 Democratic primary. Alarid Consulting gave Pyskoty $5,000 in in-kind remittances . Alarid’s campaign finance report for the 2022 election cycle says she made $242,000 in political contributions on behalf of her company or various clients. Several state legislators have been beneficiaries.
As things stand, nominations for the Senate seat will be accepted until Thursday, November 10 at noon. Applicants should submit a letter of interest and resume to the Bernalillo County Manager’s Office, Attn: Julie Morgas Baca, County Manager, 415 Silver Ave, SW, 8e Floor, Albuquerque, NM, 87102 or by e-mail to: [email protected]
Interested individuals must be at least 25 years of age and live within the boundaries of Senate District 26. New Mexico Senate District 26 is primarily located in the western quadrants of Bernalillo County. A map of District 26 is located here.
The County Board of Commissioners will choose District 26’s replacement for the Senate seat at its regular business meeting on Nov. 15 at 5 p.m.