Jim Trujillo is stepping down from the state Legislature. The longtime state representative of District 45 in Santa Fe has announced he won’t run for reelection next year.

At 80, he said, “it’s time.”

There is grace in quitting on your own terms, your own time. It’s an example more people in public life should take to heart. At the national level, the top tier of presidential candidates are older than 70. Here in New Mexico, top positions in the state Senate are held by men and women in their 70s and 80s. They all appear to be staying the course.

Contrast that to Trujillo, who told reporter Robert Nott that, “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.”

First appointed to the Legislature in 2003 to fill out a term, Trujillo was elected in 2004 and continued to be reelected ever since. Even with recent health concerns — a 2017 stroke — the representative made an impact. In the 2019 session, Trujillo was among five Democrats who sponsored House Bill 6. It raised taxes on e-cigarettes and new vehicles, while doubling an income tax credit for some families.

Approved with just minutes left in the 60-day session, the legislation will raise some $70 million for the state and tens of millions for roads and local governments. What’s more, this is money that won’t disappear when oil profits decrease. Trujillo is a lawmaker who looks down the road, to those days when oil dollars no longer are gushing.

He also knows that there are other people ready to serve, folks with new ideas. By making room, Trujillo sets an example that more of us should take to heart. The next generation, and the one after that, cannot take a place in the affairs of the nation, state or city without others ceding power. Sure, younger people can run primary campaigns against opponents and take them out, wresting power by force. But an open seat can draw in unpredictable candidates who can upend conventional thinking. A retirement offers opportunity to a wider variety of candidates.

Next year, we anticipate a vigorous primary — Trujillo had the habit of being reelected with no opposition. While that shows how much constituents trusted him, voters are better served when elections have competition among candidates with different philosophies and positions. Trujillo himself brought diversity to the Legislature. His understanding of budgets and business came from his background operating a small store in Pojoaque, among other jobs that also included work in public education and finance.

Now, he’s taking his work ethic, his ability to crunch numbers and his dedication to giving all people a fair shake and retiring. As one of our online commenters put it: “He’s earned it.”

By retiring, Trujillo also sets an example. We all will be replaced someday. There can be wisdom in choosing to leave before being shown the door.

(3) comments

William Mee

Representative Jim Trujillo did an amazing job for his District 45. He was always so available for anyone with a problem or an issue that needed legislation or simply a call to the right Agency. So many people are lost with the acronyms and run around an agency can give. He listened to everyone and on the campaign trail he visited every home in the District. We in Agua Fria Village had the great luck of having him as our Representative from 2003 to 2011, when we lost him due to redistricting. As a state employee previous to this, he knows state government inside and out. Plus he was an advocate for those employees when everyone was balancing the budget on the backs of the employees. Residing in Santa Fe, he was at EVERY Committee meeting when many of the out-of-towner legislators would miss, be late, or would leave early. The whole of Santa Fe County really owes him a debt of gratitude, and really got their money's worth. THANK YOU JIM!

Dr. Michael Johnson

Right, yada, yada, yada.....term limits is the answer to this rampant problem, why can't anyone see that?

William Mee

The way the legislature works is that seniority and the best committee assignments are given by the leadership to its members. Without seniority you are a no body. The state constitution specifies no term limits for legislators. One of the reasons is because the rules take a long time to learn. Upstarts and cocky guys in the legislature can have their bills given 3 committee referrals and can get off the agendas entirely until these people are broken into the system. Their is a Committee on Committees and people who are total rebels can find their bills there which is where they stay for 30 or 60 days. You got to pay your dues.

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