Former Santa Fe Land Use Director Lisa Martinez is joining county Treasurer Patrick Varela in an increasingly crowded race to replace longtime state Rep. Jim Trujillo in the state House of Representatives.
Martinez, a Democrat who is also a former director at the state Regulation and Licensing Department and now a general contractor, said Thursday she is running for the District 45 seat.
Martinez said Thursday being elected to the state House would be an “extension” of 27 years of service in city and state government. She said she would prioritize education, health care and economic development issues in the Legislature.
“I’d want to work with the governor to figure out where we can find more resources,” Martinez said about funding education. “Teachers need to be respected and paid appropriately for the work they do.”
Varela, also a Democrat who is serving his second term as treasurer, said when he announced his candidacy in November that he had a “list of accomplishments that have had a positive impact on the taxpayers of Santa Fe County,” including moving the county away from long-term invested bonds.
Varela said if elected he would focus on protecting state employees’ retirement funds, attracting high-paying jobs to Northern New Mexico and appropriating more money to teachers’ salaries. Varela is a lifelong resident of the district and the nephew of former state Rep. Lucky Varela.
Candidates for the seat already include Carmichael Dominguez, a former Santa Fe city councilor and school board member, and Linda Serrato, former political director for U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s U.S. Senate campaign.
Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, announced in October that he would not seek another term after holding the seat since 2003. Health concerns played a role in his decision, he said at the time. In 2017, he was treated for a stroke in a Denver hospital.
During this year’s legislative session, Trujillo co-sponsored a bill to create the Kiki Saavedra Senior Dignity Fund, which is aimed at improving services for seniors. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law Wednesday.
Last year, Trujillo was one of five Democratic lawmakers to sponsor House Bill 6, a sweeping tax bill raising rates on e-cigarettes and new vehicles. The legislator is also co-chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
House District 45 is a working-class district that is part of an area known for low voter turnout and where candidates frequently run unopposed. Trujillo had not had an opponent since the 2004 primary.