Process to replace Jerome Block’s seat proceeds
The eighty-eight applicants to officially declare their interest for Jerome Block Jr.’s vacated District 3 commissioner of the Public Regulation Commission, seat include: an American Telepsychiatrists sales representative, the owner of a Santa Fe optical store, a substitute teacher, a musician, a rancher, a stay-at-home dad, a solar-power products designer, a graphic designer of a free monthly newspaper, an insurance agent, a resort director and an equipment maintenance technician at Intel.
Fred Nathan and Jason Espinoza, directors at Think New Mexico, a think tank that released an influential assessment of the PRC one week ago, say they have never heard of most of the candidates. Nathan sees the economy’s pull as the driving factor for the high turnout –”the appeal of a $90,000-a-year job,” he said.
Moreover, the duties of the commissioner are a signature part of the current administration. “This appointment’s going to be under the spotlight,” said Nathan. “The governor ran her campaign on an ethics platform. So this will be a test for her as to who she picks and why.”
But the two directors have favorites for the race: Peter Pacheco, chairman of the Santa Fe County Republican Party and vice president of Century Bank; Charles Christmann Jr., chairman of the Sandoval County GOP; former PRC chief of staff Orlando Romero, who recently retired from the State Treasurer’s office; and conservative New Mexican columnist Gregg Bemis, who has also run unsuccessfully for the state legislature and congress.
As Espinoza pointed out, however, a number of the eighty-eight applicants are not even in District 3, the northern New Mexico region that includes Santa Fe. “We’d like it if Governor Martinez were to select someone with the relevant educational and professional background that the job demands,” said Nathan. “And I imagine that among these eighty-eight people, you can find at least a dozen who are worth interviewing.”
When those interviews will begin is anyone’s guess. Governor Martinez has not set down any sort of timeline or deadline as to when she’ll make her pick. Martiniez’s spokesperson, Scott Darnell, said Wednesday that the governor hopes to move quickly.