Gov chooses Vickie Perea for state rep

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A Belen Republican has been chosen to fill a vacant seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

On Friday, Gov. Susan Martinez selected Vickie Perea, to fill the District 50 legislative seat that had been held by Democratic Rep. Stephen Easely, who died in August.

Since her appointment last week, Perea says she’s had a full calendar.

“I have been catching up with the interim committees,” Perea said. “I need to get up to speed as much as I can before January. And it’s here almost.”

Legislative interim committees meet throughout the year even when the Legislature is not in session.

Perea said she is grateful for the opportunity the governor has given her to serve New Mexico. With a district that sprawls across four counties, Perea said she plans to do what she’s done here in Valencia County to get to know them.

“I will go out and attend meetings, reach out to elected officials and my constituents. I’ll go to whatever meetings they are having and meet people through all those forums to find out what their pressing needs are,” she said. “Right now, the thing for me to do is listen.”

Perea said she will listen to her constituents to find out what requests have been made of the Legislature and get up to speed with what transpired in the 2013 session.

“I am really excited and grateful for this opportunity,” she said. “I’m going to work hard, visit every single county and listen to what the needs are. Then we need to go to work.”

Martinez described Perea in a written statement as a passionate public servant.

“She is capable of working across partly lines and is well-qualified to help craft public policy that will benefit New Mexico’s economy, schools and families,” the governor wrote.

Perea will serve out the remainder of Easley’s term in office. The seat is up for election in 2014.

House District 50 encompasses parts of four different counties — Santa Fe, Valencia, Bernalillo and Torrance — and Martinez got to choose from among three individuals nominated by county commissioners in those counties.

In September, the Valencia County Commission nominated Perea for the governor’s consideration on the recommendation of Commissioner Lawrence Romero. He asked to submit the name since the part of District 50 in the county is limited to his commission district.

Martinez’s other choices were LeRoy Candelaria, a former Republican county commissioner from Torrance County, and Ann Jenkins, a Democrat from Eldorado, who was nominated by both the Santa Fe and Bernalillo county commissions.

With Perea’s appointment, Republicans are now outnumbered by a narrow 37-33 margin in the chamber. The breakdown had been 38-32 with Easley in the Legislature. Democrats also control the state Senate.

Perea was a Democrat but shifted parties because, as she said, “I felt in many ways that the party left me, not that I left the party.”

Perea, 67, is a former city of Albuquerque employee and Albuquerque City Council president, who ran unsuccessfully for the state Senate last year. She ran against Democrat Sen. Clemente Sanchez of Grants for the New Mexico Senate District 30 seat.

She was also defeated by Democrat Mary Herrera in a statewide race for secretary of state in 2006.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.