Four Valencia County residents have submitted letters of interest to the Valencia County manager indicating their willingness to serve out the remaining year of former House of Representatives District 8 Rep. Alonzo Baldonado’s term.
Baldonado abruptly announced his resignation from the seat on Dec. 31, 2021. Since the district is contained wholly within Valencia County, the Valencia County commissioners will select his replacement at a special meeting at 5 p.m.. Wednesday, Jan. 12.
Those who submitted letters of interest by Monday’s 5 p.m. deadline are Brian Baca, David Carter, Sharalaina Piro-Rael and Ruth Romero.
The Valencia County Commission will meet Wednesday to appoint Baldonado’s replacement. The 2022 legislative session is set to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 18.
Baca is the deputy superintendent for Los Lunas Schools, and is responsible for the supervision and oversight of personnel, athletics, transportation, and safety and security. He serves on the American Association of School Personnel Administrators.
He holds a Masters of Arts degree in educational leadership from The University of New Mexico, a Los Lunas High School graduate, fourth generation resident of Valencia County and is a registered Republican, according to the resume he submitted.
In his letter, Baca, a Los Lunas resident, wrote he subscribes to the mantra “see first to understand before being understood.”
“People serve in public offices for many reasons: some seek power or personal advancement, and unfortunately, some run for other hidden agendas and/or self-serving purposes,” he wrote. “As a fourth generation member of this community, it has been instilled in me all my live that we are here to serve rather than to be served.
“I want it know that I run for this office solely to serve this community and its citizens, and will put the needs of my constituents at the forefront of everything I do in this office.”
Carter served on the Belen City Council from 2012 to 2020, and worked for Belen Consolidated Schools for 11 years as the district’s director of support services. He retired from BCS in 2020.
A resident and product of Valencia County, Carter wrote he is attracted to the prospect of giving back to his origins.
“Although I am enjoying my current position as retired, I believe I can better serve the county and state in a larger capacity,” wrote Carter, a registered Democrat.
During his time on the city council, Carter said he gained operational knowledge of state government, and his tenure with the school district gave him insight into a key component of state government — education of the state’s children.
Carter’s work experience also includes a management position for a large international corporation as well as small operations in the transportation industry, providing a background in large and small business needs.
“I was also a faculty member at the University of Phoenix, where I instructed/facilitated classes in business ethics and business management,” he wrote.
Piro-Rael graduated from LLHS as valedictorian before going on to get her degree, with honors, from UNM. She returned to the county to start a small business, J Sharp Music in Los Lunas.
A supporter of the arts and education, Piro-Rael co-founded a music organization, the New Mexico Adrena-line, that brought together local high school musicians from multiple schools to perform and compete together with students who would normally be their rivals.
She also regularly volunteered for more than a decade helping to organize mariachi concert fundraisers for the LLHS band, as well as volunteering at schools teaching music to children and doing pro bono repair work on musical instruments.
Piro-Rael, a Los Lunas resident, is a registered Democrat.
Since the upcoming 30-day legislative session will focus almost exclusively on funding, Piro-Rael says the important issues to focus on are growing the local economy, a medical care facility, the new Interstate 25 interchange and more.
“… I will work to ensure the people of Valencia county are taken care of and that we get the funds we need,” Piro-Rael wrote in her letter. “… as a legislator I will work to be a voice of unity … Now more than ever we need someone in office who understands that our similarities as neighbors are far more important and substantial than our differences.
“Together with logic, we can accomplish far more as a unified team than we can as bitter rivals.”
Romero wrote she was motivated to put her money where her mouth is and “get inside the Roundhouse to learn why things get bogged down and try to be a voice that is heard while representing our community.”
A resident of Bosque Farms, Romero graduated from Western New Mexico University with her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and special education. She fulfilled what she called a childhood dream of becoming a teacher from 1974 to 2009, starting in Silver City, then Albuquerque and then to Bosque Farms, where she finished her teaching career at The University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus.
In addition to being a taxpayer, voting in every local and national election since she became an eligible voter and registered Republican, Romero has read the 800-plus page Affordable Care Act, writing numerous letters during the years to members of Congress, as well as many U.S. presidents.
Romero participated in the 2021 New Mexico Legislative session as a member of the New Mexico Association of Educational Retirees’ Adopt-a-Legislator program.
“I have decades of experience in dealing with very diverse populations, and I believe my understandings and awareness of differences in both individuals and organizations would provide a solid basis for me to become a representative,” Romero wrote in her letter. “I am confident I can contribute positively to our state’s legislature as a member of the House, representing District 8.”
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.