Entries from: New Mexico

Out Candidates Claim Election Victories

In a breakthrough night of victory, three openly LGBT candidates saw success in their elections on Tuesday.

Mary Gonzalez was re-elected to her seat in District 75 of the Texas House of Representatives, defeating her opponent with 69% of the vote. Upon election to her first term in 2012, Gonzalez became the first woman to represent her district in the state legislature. Prior to her public service, Gonzalez was an instructor at Southwestern University as well as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Texas at Austin. She has maintained deep local ties, having served as President of her local 4-H Club and Co-Chair of the Board of Directors for allgo, Texas’ statewide Queer People of Color organization.

Steve Kirkland overcame his opponent’s smear campaign to win the primary election for Judge of the 113th District Court, which serves Houston and Harris Counties in Texas.  Capturing 52% of the vote, Kirkland will continue his campaign leading up to the general election in November. Kirkland brings to the table 12 years of judicial experience as well as 24 years of legal experience. He currently works in Houston’s City Attorney’s office focusing on economic development issues. In 2006 he was named by the Coalition for the Homeless of Houston and Harris County as a Government Friend of the Homeless, for his work developing Houston’s Homeless Recovery Court, the first court of its kind in the state.

With an impressive 73% of the vote, Ennio Garcia- Miera was successful in his campaign for the Corrales Village Council in New Mexico against an anti-LGBT candidate. Garcia-Miera has deep ties to the area: he can trace his lineage in New Mexico back 400 years to Juan Gonzalez Bas, the founder of Corrales. He has served in senior positions at various financial institutions, and was named as one of Hispanic Business Magazine’s “100 Most Influential Hispanics in the Nation.” He is currently the only Latino and openly gay legislator serving on the council.

Openly gay New Mexico senator will chair party caucus

Jacob CandelariaAfter becoming New Mexico’s only openly gay state lawmaker last month, Jacob Candelaria was elected as chairman of the state senate Democratic caucus yesterday.

Candelaria is the first out person to serve in a leadership role in either chamber of the New Mexico state legislature, and may be the youngest member elected to leadership in state history.

As chairman, Candelaria will play a major part in the passage of caucus legislative priorities.

Senator-elect Candelaria released the following statement on his historic caucus election:

I am ready to work with leadership and our members to build a better New Mexico for this state’s working families by creating the jobs our families needs, providing every New Mexico child the opportunity to reach their full potential, protecting our natural heritage for future generations, and ensuring equality for all.


Gay man to become New Mexico’s only out LGBT state legislator

Jacob CandelariaJacob Candelaria is projected to handily win a decisive Democratic primary tonight to represent District 26 in the New Mexico Senate. With no Republican opponent in November, Candelaria will become New Mexico’s only openly LGBT lawmaker, and one of the youngest state lawmakers in the country.

“We’re thrilled for Jacob and for New Mexico,” said Chuck Wolfe, president and CEO of the Victory Fund, which endorsed Candelaria and supported his campaign. “Jacob ran a terrific campaign and will bring his authentic voice to Santa Fe as a fighter for Albuquerque’s westside community and equality for all.”

Before becoming Executive Director of Equality New Mexico, the state’s flagship LGBT advocacy group, Candelaria served as a program evaluator for the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee and policy analyst on behalf of the Speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Candelaria’s win will bring the number of state legislatures with no openly LGBT lawmakers to 15, following historic victories by Mary Gonzalez in Texas and Brian Sims in Pennsylvania earlier this year.

UPDATE:  This post has been updated to correct references to Candelaria as New Mexico’s first LGBT state legislator.  He will be the only openly LGBT New Mexico state legislator, but not the first.

Lesbian judge wins statewide in New Mexico

vanzi221New Mexico last night joined just a handful of states to have elected openly gay candidates to statewide office.  Judge Linda Vanzi won her Democratic primary for a seat on the Court of Appeals, and she faces no Republican opponent this fall.

But she wasn’t the only out lesbian to win a judicial race in New Mexico yesterday.  Shannon Bacon, a lawyer and advocate for women and children, won her primary race for the District Court in Bernalillo County, which includes Albuquerque.  She also faces no opposition in November.

Vanzi was selected for a seat on the Court of Appeals in 2008 by Gov. Richardson.  Under New Mexico state law, appointed judges must stand for election in the next general election following their appointment.  In the future, voters will be asked only if they wish to retain Vanzi on the statewide court.

Prior to her appointment, Vanzi served on the Second Judicial District court from 2004-2008. Vanzi’s legal career has spanned a broad range of issues from civil rights to employment law, personal injury, child abuse and neglect, and commercial law. Vanzi has been awarded the Judge of the Year award by the Albuquerque Bar Association and the Trial Judge of Year award by the American Board of Trial Advocates.

Both Vanzi and Bacon were endorsed by the Victory Fund.

New Mexico senate tables domestic partnerships bill

nmsenateA committee of the New Mexico Senate has voted to table a bill that would have established domestic partnerships in the state.  The 7-4 vote means the bill is effectively dead for the year.  According to a report in The New Mexico Independent:

“Realistically my sense is that it’s done for this year,” said Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe. “It’s gonna happen, it’s just a matter of when.”

Wirth was the sponsor of the 800-page bill and steered it through one Senate committee before its defeat Monday night in Senate Finance.

The tabling vote strikes a blow to Gov. Bill Richardson who made extending many of the same rights enjoyed by married couples to gays and lesbians part of his legislative agenda.

But with the state confronting the worst budget picture in decades some senators felt the issue was too much to take on.

“I did not ask for this bill to be sent to Senate finance,” said Chairman Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, “But that’s the politics and that’s the way it is.”