Earlier this week, more than 100 business leaders and elected officials were in attendance as the Chamber held its 2019 Chamber Awards ceremony at the National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts. The awards, largely devoted to those legislators and local officials who have done the most to advance important legislation and policy, support the Chamber’s efforts to make progress in key areas for New Mexico and Albuquerque, and help make our city and state a great place to work, start a business, and raise a family.
The 2019 Statesman of the year was Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, whose leadership has helped ensure the fiscally responsible use of the state’s recent surplus with a view toward long-term stability over short-term political considerations. “Senator Smith is receiving this award in recognition of his ability to rise above the fray year in and year out to make the responsible choices, even when the responsible choice is the difficult choice,” said Chamber Board Chair and PNM Resources President and CEO Pat Vincent-Collawn. “He works across the aisle to reach compromises, and diligently balances competing interests from around the state, across the political spectrum, and from the many stakeholders who come knocking on his door year-round.”
Other awardees ranged from Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth for bipartisan collaboration on key legislation to United Way of Santa Fe County President and CEO Katherine Freeman for her work in promoting a new cabinet-level Early Childhood Education and Care Department. Bernalillo County District Attorney Raúl Torrez received recognition as Public Safety Advocate of the Year for his efforts to drive down crime in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County, while Senator Clemente Sanchez was the recipient of the Business Advocate in Politics Award for his work in reaching compromises on minimum wage and tax legislation.
Former Supreme Court Justice Ed Chavez, Senator Sander Rue, and Representatives Greg Nibert, Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter received the Chamber’s Distinguished Public Service Award for his decades of work in Albuquerque and New Mexico as an educator, city councilor, superintendent, and Secretary of State. “Devoting one’s life to serving his city and state whenever called upon, Councilor Brad Winter has carried out that service with integrity and humility,” said Chamber Board member and Director of Miller Stravert Rick Alvidrez as he announced the award.
“These awards are such a great opportunity for the Chamber to recognize the hard work and dedication of those in our community who devote themselves to public service,” said Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole. “It is always inspiring to gather so many of these individuals in the same place to celebrate making New Mexico and Albuquerque an even better place to live, work, and run a business.”
See below for a full list of the awardees:
Statesman of the Year: Sen. John Arthur Smith
Public Safety Advocate of the Year: Bernalillo County D.A. Raùl Torrez
Excellence in Media: KRQE President and General Manager Bill Anderson
Business Advocate in Politics: Sen. Clemente Sanchez
Excellence in Education: Michael Weinberg, Thornburg Foundation and Katherine Freeman, United Way of Santa Fe County
Chairman’s Award of Excellence: Dr. Cheryl Willman, Roadrunners program
Chairman’s Award of Excellence: Richard Anklam, New Mexico Tax Research Institute
Distinguished Public Service Award: Brad Winter
“Start to Finish” Awards are given to those legislators who diligently worked — sometimes for years — to develop legislation and build consensus to see important bills passed and signed by the Governor. Awardees this year include:
Criminal Justice Reform (HB267): Rep. Daymon Ely, Rep. Greg Nibert, Sen. Sander Rue, and Former New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Ed Chavez
Attendance for Success Act (HB236): Rep. Patricio Ruiloba
State Ethics Commission (SB668): Sen. Mimi Stewart, Rep. Daymon Ely, and Former Rep. Jim Dines
Early Childhood Education and Care Department (SB22): Sen. Michael Padilla and Rep. Linda Trujillo
PRC Reform (SJR1): Sen. Bill Payne, Sen. Steve Neville, and Sen. Peter Wirth
Energy Transition Act (SB489): Sen. Jacob Candelaria, Rep. Nathan Small, Brian Egolf, and Sen. Mimi Stewart
Education Funding Changes (SB1, HB5): Sen. Mimi Stewart, Sen. Gay Kernan, Rep. Sheryl Williams-Stapleton, Rep. Andres Romero, and LFC Director David Abbey
Judicial Reform – Court Jurisdictions (SB173): Sen. Richard Martinez
High Wage Jobs Bill (HB165): Rep. Candie Sweetser
Forest/Watersheds (HB266): Rep. Paul Bandy and Sen. Peter Wirth
Newcomer Legislator of Year Award: Sen. Gabriel Ramos
“E for Effort” Awards go to those legislators and public officials who valiantly pursued legislation that would make a positive difference in the state, but have yet to see that effort result in signed legislation — though many prior “E for Effort” awardees eventually find themselves in the “Start to Finish” category!
Judicial/Court Reform Bills: Justice Judy Nakamura
Angel Investment Credit Expansion (HB419): Rep. Jane Powdrell-Culbert
Charter School Facilities (SB245): Sen. Jacob Candelaria and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino
Limiting Increases in School Administration Spending (HB77): Rep. Bobby Gonzales and Sen. Jacob Candelaria