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Who's Who in New Mexico Politics?
Know Your Vote

Voting is a public way of saying, "Our families count, and all of our lives matter!"

Civic participation means getting everyday folks involved in the decisions that affect our families and communities. Election season is an especially important time for us to speak up, and there are many ways we can all get involved in the process, regardless of our citizenship status or whether we can vote.

Elections matter because elected leaders can make decisions that can either help or hurt our families. Politicians pay more attention to communities who participate in elections. Voting is a public way of saying, "Our families count, and all of our lives matter!"


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National Elected Positions

US CONGRESS • Congress is made of two separate bodies: The House of Representatives and the Senate. Together they form the legislative (law-making) branch of the Federal Government. There are no limits on the number of terms that a member of Congress can serve.

US Representative

There are 435 members of the House of Representatives. All seats in the House are up for re-election every two years. The number of representatives from each state is based on population. Currently New Mexico has 3 representatives.

Key Responsibilities

  • Makes and passes federal laws.
  • Decides the budget for federal programs.
  • Determines federal tax guidelines.
  • Can propose changes to the Constitution.
  • Has the power to declare war.

What This Means for You

Chooses how federal programs such as Head Start, Medicaid, Cash Assistance, Social Security, relief for victims of natural disasters, military spending, child care, health care and domestic violence services are funded or cut.

Creates federal laws, including those governing immigration, healthcare, education, criminal justice, student loan interest rates, labor and environmental protections.

US Senator

There are 100 US Senators. Each state elects two senators in statewide election for six-year terms. Senate races are staggered so that only one senator in a state is up for election at a time.

Key Responsibilities

In addition what is listed for the House of Representatives (above), the Senate approves the President's appointments to important positions, including the U.S. Supreme Court and the Cabinet (the board that advises the President, consisting of top officeholders in key departments).

What This Means for You

Chooses how federal programs such as Head Start, Medicaid, Cash Assistance, Social Security, relief for victims of natural disasters, military spending, child care, health care and domestic violence services are funded or cut.

Creates federal laws, including those governing immigration, healthcare, education, criminal justice, student loan interest rates, labor and environmental protections.

New Mexico Statewide Elected Positions

Governor

Heads the state executive branch. Elected every four years in non-presidential, midterm election years.

Key Responsibilities

  • Sends proposed budget to the legislature for approval.
  • Has the power to veto bills passed by the state legislature. Vetoes can be overridden by a two-thirds majority vote in the legislature.
  • Appoints and supervises all major executive department heads, from Indian Affairs to Human Services to Public Education.
  • Has the power to issue executive orders to enforce policies or the Constitution without going through the legislature.

What This Means for You

Submits budget that determines state funding priorities, such as for education and economic development.

Can sign into law or veto bills, including those relating to taxes for families and health care.

Can call a special session, of the state legislature to address issues like healthcare, immigration, and emergency disaster funds.

Secretary of State

New Mexico's chief elections officer. Elected every four years.

Key Responsibilities

  • Oversees the entire election process in New Mexico.
  • Ensures state government is run ethically and in compliance with NM laws.
  • Regulates lobbyists, campaign financing, and political action committees.

What This Means for You

Tests and evaluates voting machines.

Informs voters where to vote, how to request an absentee ballot, and how voters with disabilities can request assistance in voting.

Attorney General

Heads the state's chief legal and law enforcement office. Elected every four years.

Key Responsibilities

  • Represents the state in all legal matters in court.
  • Runs the Border Violence Division to address human trafficking.
  • Runs Consumer Project Division to ensure laws protecting consumers are enforced.

What This Means for You

Responsible for taking legal action against notarios or immigration consultants who are unauthorized or untrained.

Can assign special investigation teams on violent crimes like child abuse, homicide, and sexual assault.

Issues legal opinions on constitutional questions concerning housing or protection from discrimination.

Treasurer

Serves as the state's accountant, managing and investing state money. Elected every four years, and can serve a limit of two consecutive terms.

Key Responsibilities

  • Serves as New Mexico's banker.
  • Invests the state's short-term funds.
  • Sits on board and commissions, including the State Investment Council, which manages the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

What This Means for You

Investment performance determines how much money is available for public projects, including building roads or school construction.

Land Commissioner

Manages all state lands and mineral rights, as well as overseeing leases and royalties on state lands. Elected every four years.

Key Responsibilities

  • Responsible for revenue from state land trusts for the state’s 22 beneficiaries (including public schools and hospitals) that receive money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund.
  • Approves specific projects like oil and gas development or mining operations by development companies.

What This Means for You

Manages state permanent funds, which can be utilized to help finance education and other state government operations.

Makes decisions on public land projects, which shapes the natural environment by determining community access to clean air or clean water.

Public Reg. Commissioner

The Public Regulation Commissioner regulates utilities, telecommunications, insurance, and transportation industry. The state is divided into 5 districts. Each district elects one commissioner every 4 years and they are elected in staggered terms.

Key Responsibilities

  • Regulates natural gas, electric, telephone, insurance, transportation, water, and sewer companies in New Mexico.
  • Regulates and ensures safe transport of oil and gas through NM pipelines.

What This Means for You

Decides what utility costs to consumers and profit rates for utilities.

Funds subsidies to provide telephone and internet access for rural communities.

Sets rates for ambulances and determines where ambulances can go.

NEW MEXICO STATE LEGISLATURE • The New Mexico Legislature is divided into two bodies: the New Mexico State Senate and the New Mexico State House of Representatives. New Mexico Legislators meet for 60 days or 30 days, depending on the year, or for special sessions for specific issues.

State Senator

The state is divided up into 42 State Senate Districts and each district elects one senator. Senate seats are elected during presidential election years.

Key Responsibilities

  • Enacts state laws in areas such as state taxes, education, child care and conservation of natural resources.
  • Shares budget-making responsibilities with the Governor.
  • With a three-fifths vote, can compel the governor to open a special session for state emergencies.

What This Means for You

Makes decisions about state funding priorities, such as for public schools and CHIP/Children's Medicaid.

Can change regulations governing healthcare clinics, including dental clinics.

Can pass laws raising the minimum wage and expanding tax credits

State Representative

There are 70 State House Districts. Each district elects one representative. All State House seats are up for election every two years.

Key Responsibilities

Same as State Senator (above).

What This Means for You

Same as State Senator (above).

Local Elected Positions

School Board

There are 89 school districts in New Mexico, and each one has a locally elected school board. School board members serve for four years, and are elected in staggered terms, so that the entire board is not up for election at the same time.

Key Responsibilities

  • Adopt policies to guide the school district.
  • Hire, set salary, and evaluate the superintendent.
  • Approve and oversee the school district’s annual budget.
  • Work with the superintendent to set goals and adopt policies to guide the school district.
  • Host regular school board meetings to obtain public opinion and discuss and vote on school board policies.

What This Means for You

Set the schedule, including the start and end dates for all schools in the district.

Approve funding levels for various school-based programs, including academic enrichment programs and after school programs.

School Board members are responsible to the people in their districts.

City Council

Depending on the city, city council candidates either run city-wide or cities are divided into wards/districts, with council members being elected by residents of that district.

Key Responsibilities

  • Creates city policies and ordinances.
  • Sets city taxes and manages the city budget.
  • Oversees construction and improvement projects.
  • Works with city mayor, city departments, and staff to develop priorities for the city.

What This Means for You

Can provide financial support to community services to support New Mexico families.

Makes zoning decisions that can either promote or prevent the development of low-income housing.

City Mayor

Oversees all city departments and makes sure all policies are being applied efficiently and fairly. Elected every four years by city voters.

Key Responsibilities

  • Proposes city budget.
  • May have veto power over city council legislation, depending on city charter.
  • Works with city council, city departments, and staff to develop priorities for the city.

What This Means for You

Supervises city police department, with the power to hire and fire the police chief and other city administrators.

Can provide leadership to promote diversity and inclusion of all communities.

What If I Can't Vote?

You must be at least 18 and a US citizen to vote. But you can still make a difference!

  • Encourage and educate people who can vote.
  • Share this guide at your church or with your neighbors, friends and/or family.
  • Join a community organization works on issues important to you and your family.

In New Mexico, individuals convicted of a felony cannot vote while incarcerated, on parole, or on probation. Those who have completed these terms should re-register to vote. More details can be found here.

SFNM

Strong Families New Mexico (SFNM), a state-based program of Forward Together, works to shift culture and create new policies that recognize the many kinds of families in our state. We are a network of organizations and individuals working in alignment to build a better life for all families and for generations to come.

For more information, contact Strong Families NM, 320 Gold Ave., Suite 1119, Albuquerque, NM 87102.

Like us on Facebook at StrongFamNM or StrongFamiliesfbpage

Follow us on Twitter at @StrongFamNM or @StrongFams

Strong Families NM partner organizations include:

  • El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos
  • Encuentro
  • Enlace Comunitario
  • Equality New Mexico
  • Families United for Education
  • Media Literacy Project
  • Men of Color Alliance
  • Native American Voters Alliance
  • New Mexico Asian Family Center
  • New Mexico Coalition for Equity and Justice
  • New Mexico Dreamers In Action
  • New Mexico Forum for Youth in Community
  • New Mexico Health Equity Partnership
  • NM Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
  • OLE – Organizers for the Land of Enchantment
  • SouthWest Organizing Project
  • Tewa Women United
  • UNM Community Engagement Center
  • UNM LGBTQ Resource Center
  • Young Women United