The former treasurer for Sandoval County wants to take on the same job at the state level.

Rio Rancho resident Laura Montoya, a Democrat, announced her candidacy this week, noting her background makes her an ideal candidate for the state Treasurer’s position.

She was elected Sandoval County Treasurer in 2012 and won reelection in 2016. She was term limited, as is current treasurer Tim Eichenberg, who will complete his second term in 2022.

The State Treasurer’s Office oversees the state’s short-term investments and sits on a number of influential boards, including the Board of Finance and State Investment Council.

Montoya said it is a high-profile job that may nonetheless not always attract attention from the average New Mexican.

“It’s the state’s money, it’s taxpayer money, and you have to make sure you are getting a good return on your dollar so people feel it can be a trusted office,” she said.

Though Montoya initially wanted to be a lawyer, a stint as a cashier and night manager at a grocery store in Las Vegas, N.M., taught her the importance of caring for other people’s money.

“That was the first time I managed a large amount of money, somewhere between $35,000 and $75,000,” she said. “To me, a 17-year-old coming up from a very small, rural, humble home, that was a lot of money to be responsible for.”

The 44-year-old consultant began working for finance committees during legislative sessions about 20 years ago. There, longtime legislative financial gurus like former Sen. John Arthur Smith of Deming and current Sen. Pete Campos of Las Vegas, both Democrats, taught her how legislative bills affected lives.

Campos, she said, was a key force in allowing her to understand how the state budget — House Bill 2 — is put together.

“He let me have open rein to learn and understand it,” she said.

Montoya earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology and a master’s degree in public affairs from New Mexico Highlands University.

Montoya, who unsuccessfully ran in the 2020 Democratic primary for New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District, said she plans to raise between $75,000 and $100,000 for her campaign.

As of Wednesday she was the only candidate to formally enter the race, which will be decided by voters during the 2022 general election.

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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