The vacant Valencia County probate judge’s seat has drawn nine applicants interested in filling the position until the end of the year.

Letters of interest were submitted by Tracy D. Armijo, Pablito Herrera, Jennifer Jaramillo, Torres G. Leyba, Sharalaina Piro-Rael, Cynthia Runyon, Helen Saiz, Albert Shrecengost and Wendy Wallace by today’s noon deadline.

The position is currently vacant, after Judge Jamie Goldberg was selected to fill the vacant Valencia County Magistrate Division III seat earlier this month.

Goldberg’s term as probate judge was set to end in December. The Valencia County Commission is expected to appoint someone to the vacant seat for the remainder of the term at its 5 p.m. meeting today, Wednesday, March 16.

Armijo has 20 years of experience as a litigation paralegal and was a member of the New Mexico State Bar Legal Assistants Division. She has worked for Sandia National Laboratories for 17 years, and has operated a small farm since 2005.

“I would greatly appreciate the opportunity to serve my community …” Armijo wrote.

Herrera is one of two Republicans who filed to run for the primary race for the District 3 Valencia County Commission seat. He has a background in cinematography and television production, as well and writing and producing commercials for the Republican Party. Herrera worked for ESPN for 14 years.

“… probate effects many good people and it’s often complicated and usually the good people get screwed over,” Herrera wrote. “As a probate judge, I will see to it that estates get settled in a timely manner …”

Jaramillo is one of the three Republican candidates running in the primary for the probate judge seat. Runyon and Wallace are also candidates.

Jaramillo works for a local funeral home, which, she says, demands she effectively communicate, show empathy and have integrity.

“… I stand ready to meet the challenges of the county in accordance with the mission and vision of a peaceful and productive society,” Jaramillo wrote. “I truly believe this position is an important role to not only our community, but to future generations.”

Leyba wrote he has a public service career spanning more than three decades, which has afforded him both and educational and practical knowledge and respect for the responsibilities the position of probate judge requires.

“I should like to offer this experience … in service both to the county and the community,” his letter reads.

Piro-Rael is the co-founder of the music organization the New Mexico Adrena-line, which brings together local high school musicians from multiple schools who would normally be rivals, to perform and compete together.

Piro-Rael is one of two Democrats who filed in the primary race for probate judge. She is running against Saiz.

“The position of probate judge is interesting to me in part because it is purely a public servant position,” Piro-Rael wrote. “I would get to work with and serve my neighbors in Valencia County regardless of who they are. I would treat all individuals fairly and find it an honor to serve them.”

Runyon is an administrator of an educational co-op academy she founded in 2017, which serves more than 20 families. Since she filed to run for probate judge, Runyon has prepared by studying the 300-plus page probate judge’s manual.

“This coupled with my experience, values, discretion and management skills makes me the right choice to continue the outstanding service to the community that our great county of Valencia has come to expect, without losing time for a learning curve of a new appointee,” Runyon wrote.

Saiz wrote as a public servant for 25 years and a former Valencia County commissioner, she wanted to continue to serve the county.

“As probate judge, I will use my decision-making skills, integrity and knowledge to provide the most effective judgement to the citizens of Valencia County,” Saiz wrote.

Shrecengost has a bachelor’s degree in range management from New Mexico State University and a master’s degree in global management from University of Phoenix. He has worked for PAE and ASRCF Federal/Netcentric LLC as an installation management manager at Kirtland Air Force Base since 2021.

Shrecengost did not submit a letter of interest with his resume.

Wallace has been a realtor for 15 years and worked for The Wallace Group since 2007.

“During many transactions, I have assisted clients navigate the probate system throughout the sale of property. This is just one of the reasons I have decided to run for this position,” Wallace wrote. “I believe my experience dealing with contracts, estate transactions, etc., gives me a unique ability to serve the community as probate judge.”

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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.