How Accessible Are Your Legislators?

While most New Mexicans are enjoying the lazy days of summer at the swimming pool, on the golf course, or on vacation, many of our state representatives are busy going door-to-door campaigning to get re-elected. Others are working hard to take their places. New Mexico is among the vast majority of states with a part time legislature, but there is no doubt that in many respects, being in the legislature is a year round job.

New Mexico’s legislative sessions alternate between having 30 days in even-numbered years or 60 days in odd-numbered years. By the time the session rolls around, nearly all bills that have a chance of passing have already been filed and legislators are busy working to build coalitions and lobbying for support for their legislative priorities. By the time the session rolls around, there is little time for developing new ideas or dealing with constituent issues. This problem is particularly acute given the deluge of legislation they will face. In 2006, for example, 2,641 bills were introduced during the 30-day session. This number does not even include the House and Senate Capital Outlay bills which numbered a whopping 3,225.

As part of our work in promoting effective and responsive government, the Rio Grande Foundation took a close look at what information legislators made available to their constituents. On the website of the New Mexico Legislature, space is available for each Member to offer constituents their capitol phone number which they only answer during the legislative session, an office phone number for their regular 9-5 job, and their home number.   Space is also available for legislators to give out their physical and email addresses.

In order to determine the accessibility of our legislators, the Rio Grande Foundation took a careful look at the information each legislator makes available. While nearly all legislators had at least one phone number listed in addition to their capitol phone number, email addresses were less common.

In the 70-member House of Representatives, there are 43 Democrats and 27 Republicans. A mere 23 of the 43 House Democrats (53.5 percent) make email addresses available to the public. The numbers were somewhat better for Republicans 22 of 27 (81.5 percent) of whom have email addresses listed on the legislative website. Among the prominent members of the House lacking email was Speaker of the House Ben Lujan.

In the 42 member Senate, the situation was somewhat better overall, however there is one glaring example of a member of the New Mexico Senate with whom constituents probably find it quite difficult to communicate. That member, Leonard Tsosie, lacks any phone number, but the Capitol phone number at which he would only be accessible a few months out of the year.

Democrats in the Senate outperformed their colleagues in the House of Representatives somewhat, with 15 of 24 or 62.5 percent of Senate Democrats listing email addresses on the legislative website. Senate Republicans, on the other hand, performed the best of all, surpassing their House colleagues with 16 of 18 Republican senators listing their email addresses (89 percent).

Considering that a recent survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that 73 percent of American adults (age 18 ) go online to use the internet or email, it is hard to believe that 100 percent of New Mexico’s legislators are not making themselves accessible online.  With the Governor’s Task Force on Ethics Reform recommending the state pay legislators salaries for their work; it might make sense to try less expensive solutions like email first.

There is no doubt that some legislators, especially in rural areas with limited internet access, may be at a disadvantage when it comes to internet access relative to their urban colleagues. But, no consistent pattern developed when we analyzed the data. Some urban members lack email and many rural members do have email. Nonetheless, it is hard to believe that even our most rural legislators would be unable to access the internet when all members of both the Arizona and Utah legislatures – state with areas every bit as desolate as New Mexico – have email addresses.  Notably, Utah’s legislators also work on a voluntary basis.

The fact is that when it comes to expressing an opinion about a specific issue or asking your elected official to consider introducing or sponsoring a bill, most people simply don’t feel comfortable calling their representatives during the workday and interrupting them at the office. Of course, it is no more appealing to call your legislator in the evening at their home phone number. Email is simply the least obtrusive and most logical way for constituents to communicate with their legislators at the state level and those that are not connected are missing out. This makes even more sense given that the large geographical size of many districts in New Mexico makes relying on direct personal contract quite difficult.

The Internet is not a new technology anymore; it is an integral part of most of our lives. Although our legislators are behind the curve, this is one problem that could be solved quickly, easily, and best of all, cheaply.

A list of New Mexico’s legislators with district information, phone numbers, and E-mail addresses (if they have them) can be found below. The Rio Grande Foundation encourages all legislators to do make themselves more accessible to their constituents by offering their constituents the option of emailing them. Since email is free, there is no need for the state to spend limited taxpayer dollars on this project.

New Mexico House Members and Contact Information
Dist Name E-mail Telephone City/Area Pty
1 Thomas Taylor 325-8941 Farmington R
2 Dick Cheney 320-0315 Farmington R
3 Sandra L. Townsend 334-2481 Farmington R
4 Ray Begaye 368-4192 Shiprock D
5 Irvin Harrison 863-1216 Gallup D
6 George J. Hanosh   287-4451 Grants D
7 Kandy Cordova 864-1483 Belen D
8 Fred Luna   865-7426 Los Lunas D
9 Patricia A. Lundstrom   722-4327 Gallup D
10 Henry Kiki Saavedra   242-9582 Albuquerque D
11 Rick Miera   843-6641 Albuquerque D
12 Ernest H. Chavez 877-5416 Albuquerque D
13 Daniel P. Silva   280-9647 Albuquerque D
14 Miguel P. Garcia 450-2455 Albuquerque D
15 Teresa A. Zanetti 344-7248 Albuquerque R
16 Harriet I. Ruiz 771-3059 Albuquerque D
17 Edward C. Sandoval 344-8449 Albuquerque D
18 Gail Chasey 266-5191 Albuquerque D
19 Sheryl Williams Stapleton 265-6089 Albuquerque D
20 Richard Berry 293-1130 Albuquerque R
21 Mimi Stewart 880-8249 Albuquerque D
22 Kathy A. McCoy 281-9540 Cedar Crest R
23 Eric A. Youngberg 843-8181 Albuquerque R
24 Janice E. Arnold-Jones 938-3141 Albuquerque R
25 Danice Picraux 232-2977 Albuquerque D
26 Al Park   256-0818 Albuquerque D
27 Larry A. Larranaga   821-4948 Albuquerque R
28 Jimmie C. Hall 294-6178 Albuquerque R
29 Thomas A. Anderson 897-2593 Albuquerque R
30 Justine Fox-Young 883-3017 Albuquerque R
31 William “Bill” R. Rehm 259-3398 Albuquerque R
32 Dona G. Irwin   546-9376 Deming D
33 Joni Marie Gutierrez 647-5577 Mesilla D
34 Mary Helen Garcia   526-2726 Las Cruces D
35 Antonio Lujan 649-2218 Las Cruces D
36 Andy Nunez   267-3451 Hatch D
37 Ed Boykin   522-8174 Las Cruces R
38 Dianne Hamilton 538-9336 Silver City R
39 Manuel G. Herrera   537-5577 Bayard D
40 Nick L. Salazar   667-0362 Ohkay Owingeh D
41 Debbie A. Rodella 665-0075 Ohkay Owingeh D
42 Bobby Gonzales   758-2674 Taos D
43 Jeannette O. Wallace 661-2575 Los Alamos R
44 Jane E. Powdrell-Culbert 721-9021 Corrales R
45 Jim R. Trujillo 470-0143 Santa Fe D
46 Ben Lujan   455-3354 Santa Fe D
47 Peter Wirth 988-1668 Santa Fe D
48 Luciano “Lucky” Varela   982-1292 Santa Fe D
49 Don L. Tripp 835-2465 Socorro R
50 Rhonda S. King   832-5050 Stanley D
51 Gloria C. Vaughn   434-2819 Alamogordo R
52 Joseph Cervantes 526-5600 Las Cruces D
53 Terry T. Marquardt 437-7783 Alamagordo R
54 Joe M Stell   785-2188 Carlsbad D
55 John A. Heaton 887-5983 Carlsbad D
56 W. C. “Dub” Williams   378-4181 Glencoe D
57 Daniel R. Foley 624-0608 Roswell R
58 Candy Spence Ezzell 625-0550 Roswell R
59 Avon W. Wilson   624-7442 Roswell R
60 Thomas E. Swisstack 891-8656 Rio Rancho D
61 Donald L. Whitaker   394-2045 Eunice D
62 Donald E. Bratton   393-2937 Hobbs R
63 Jose A. Campos 472-5267 Santa Rosa D
64 Anna M. Crook 763-4108 Clovis R
65 James Roger Madalena 834-7359 Jemez Pueblo D
66 Keith J. Gardner 622-6500 Roswell R
67 Brian K. Moore 374-9681 Clayton R
68 Hector H. Balderas 730-1342 Wagon Mound D
69 Ken Martinez 287-8801 Grants D
70 Richard D. Vigil   425-9793 Ribera D
New Mexico Senators and Contact Information
Dist Name E-mail Telephone City/Area Pty
1 William E. Sharer 325-5055 Farmington R
2 Steven P. Neville 327-5450 Aztec R
3 John Pinto   928-871-6952 Tohatchi D
4 Lidio G. Rainaldi   863-3643 Gallup D
5 Richard C. Martinez 753-8027 Espanola D
6 Carlos R. Cisneros 670-5610 Questa D
7 Clinton D. Harden 389-1248 Clovis R
8 Pete Campos 454-5700 Las Vegas D
9 Steve Komadina 893-2840 Corrales R
10 John C. Ryan 343-1400 Albuquerque R
11 Linda M. Lopez   831-4148 Albuquerque D
12 Gerald Ortiz y Pino 265-3717 Albuquerque D
13 Dede Feldman 242-1997 Albuquerque D
14 James G. Taylor 877-4986 Albuquerque D
15 Diane Snyder   830-1669 Albuquerque R
16 Cisco McSorley 266-0588 Albuquerque D
17 Shannon Robinson 998-6600 Albuquerque D
18 Mark Boitano 798-1092 Albuquerque R
19 Sue Wilson Beffort 292-7116 Albuquerque R
20 William H. Payne 884-6872 Albuquerque R
21 Kent L. Cravens 294-1368 Albuquerque R
22 Leonard Tsosie     Crownpoint D
23 Joseph J. Carraro 898-9369 Albuquerque R
24 Nancy Rodriguez   983-8913 Santa Fe D
25 John T.L. Grubesic 820-1825 Santa Fe D
26 Bernadette M. Sanchez   270-6952 Albuquerque D
27 Stuart Ingle   356-3088 Portales R
28 Ben D. Altamirano   538-3525 Silver City D
29 Michael S. Sanchez 865-5583 Belen D
30 Joseph A. Fidel   287-4432 Grants D
31 Cynthia Nava 882-6200 Las Cruces D
32 Timothy Z. Jennings   623-8331 Roswell D
33 Rod Adair 627-8372 Roswell R
34 Vernon D. Asbill 302-8135 Carlsbad R
35 John Arthur Smith 546-4979 Deming D
36 Mary Jane M. Garcia 523-0440 Dona Ana D
37 Leonard Lee Rawson 528-1801 Las Cruces R
38 Mary Kay Papen   524-4462 Las Cruces D
39 Phil A. Griego 988-2233 San Jose D
40 Dianna J. Duran 585-9896 Tularosa R
41 Carroll H. Leavell 395-2535 Jal R
42 Gay G. Kernan 392-2327 Hobbs R