A Closer Look at New Faces
Will Efforts to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Go Up In Smoke?
Originally published by The Paper on January 20th, 2021.
New rule: When voters send someone to the Legislature for the first time, don’t call them freshmen senators or representatives. Instead, refer to them as first-year or first-term legislators. It’s pretty easy to do, and it just makes sense; because, you know, it’s not 2020 or 1920 anymore.
For example: first-term Representative Stefani Lord, (R-East Mountains). As a reminder, Rep. Lord is a conservative activist who won election to the seat in 2020 by less than five hundred votes. While speaking at a gun-rights rally outside the roundhouse just about a year ago, she drew “a line in the sand” when accusing the Legislature of taking away her personal liberties. At that same rally, seditionist Couy Griffin said, “We will put you in our political crosshairs.” During the campaign Lord described her goal as “Making New Mexico Great.” MNMG just doesn’t have the same ring as MAGA.
Rep. Lord takes her predecessor’s place on the House Health & Human Services and the House Consumer & Public Affairs committees. Interested readers should keep their eye on the public affairs committee, which is guaranteed to field political landmines for first-year legislators from swing districts like Lord’s.
Another first year legislator, Representative Brittney Barreras (D-Atrisco), handily won election to the South Valley seat after the incumbent failed to turn in enough petition signatures. Hers was an unusual election because no Republican nor any other Democrat had submitted the required signatures, setting off a mad dash to find a candidate for the seat.
Now, the rules for Independent candidates are different than those for major parties. Barreras was not a member of a major party and was able to secure a spot on the ballot as an Independent. Democrat and former Bernalillo County Commissioner Art de la Cruz mounted a long shot write-in campaign, a feat that would have been difficult even without the seismic changes the pandemic provided.
Rep. Barreras’ election is a departure from the types of centrist Democrats who have held the seat in the past. Since the election Barreras registered as a Democrat and caucuses with the majority. She is first openly queer woman to join the State House of Representatives.
It will be interesting for readers to watch how and if personalities or ideology clash with Representative Lord in the House Consumer & Public Affairs Committee. Barreras also joins the Health & Human Services Committee.
The House gained another openly queer member in first-term Representative Roger Montoya. Living in Velarde, N.M., the artist and professional dancer represents a district that includes Pecos, Wagon Mound and Eagle Nest. Readers may know Montoya from being highlighted as one of CNN’s Heroes for his addiction prevention work in the Española valley.
During the election Montoya was the victim of rather tasteless attacks on his sexuality and decision to participate in an adult film decades ago. Norteños sent a clear message that the sexuality and sex life of the candidate aren’t a factor in their voting decisions, giving him a victory by over 1,500 votes. Rep. Roger Montoya serves on the Local Government, Land Grants, & Cultural Affairs, and Health & Human Services Committees.