Longtime Santa Fe state Rep. Jim Trujillo won’t run for reelection

Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, has announced he won’t seek reelection. Gabriela Campos/New Mexican file photo

Longtime state Rep. Jim Trujillo, D-Santa Fe, will not run for reelection for his District 45 seat next year.

“It’s time,” Trujillo, 80, said Sunday. “By the time of next year’s primary, I’ll be 81 years old. It’s time for me to turn it over to a younger generation. I’ve done the best I could for my district.”

Health concerns played a role in his decision, he said. In 2017, he was treated for a stroke in a Denver hospital.

“The Legislature moves fast,” he said. “You go in at 7 o’clock in the morning and work until 3 o’clock the next morning. I could have had a [health] recurrence this past year.”

Trujillo initially was appointed by the Santa Fe County Commission in 2003 to fill the remainder of the term of former Rep. Patsy Trujillo, no relation, who resigned to take a position in Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. Jim Trujillo was elected to the seat in 2004 and has been reelected with no primary or general election opposition ever since.

During this year’s 60-day legislative session, Trujillo was one of five Democratic lawmakers to sponsor House Bill 6, a sweeping tax bill raising rates on e-cigarettes and new vehicles, while nearly doubling an income tax credit for some families. That bill, approved with just minutes left in this session, is expected to raise about $70 million for the state’s general fund this fiscal year as well as tens of millions of dollars for roads and local governments.

Among other initiatives, he has long been a proponent of tapping the Land Grant Permanent Fund to finance more early childhood education programs in New Mexico. Despite his illness and absence during much of the 2017 legislative session, he made a dramatic appearance on the House floor that year to secure enough votes to pass a resolution to tap investment revenues from the then-$15 billion endowment.

That proposal died a few days later and it has failed to gain momentum in the years since.

As a lawmaker, the affable Trujillo showcased a grasp of financial matters and the legislative process. For the most part, he avoided controversy, though he did sponsor the legislation that allowed former state Rep. Phil Griego to get a broker’s fee of $50,000 from the owners of the Inn of the Five Graces, a downtown Santa Fe luxury inn, for a real estate deal.

Griego failed to disclose to lawmakers, including Trujillo, that he was a broker for the company that owns the Inn of the Five Graces and that he would profit if lawmakers approved a joint resolution authorizing the sale of a state-owned property to the inn. Griego helped authorize the legislation, recruited Trujillo to be the sponsor and presented the bill before a Senate committee. He also failed to correct faulty information about the deal on the Senate floor.

Trujillo said in 2014, when the story broke, and again Sunday that he had no knowledge of Griego’s involvement with the deal. He said he pushed to have safeguards put in that bill to ensure it was properly vetted by a number of committees and state departments.

Trujillo worked in public education and finance before taking over the former Al’s General Store in Pojoaque, which he sold in the mid-1990s. He said once he retires he wants to read, listen to music, work out at the gym and spend more time with his wife of 56 years, Vickie.

Rep. Jason Harper, R-Albuquerque, said he had heard Trujillo might not run for office again.

“I was hoping he would; I love working with Jim,” Harper said. “Being a former business owner, he brought a unique perspective to the Taxation and Revenue Committee. His family ran a mom-and-pop store for years. While he and I were on different sides of many issues, we could also work together on a lot of bills to help New Mexico businesses over the years.

“He will be missed.”

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

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