Nava cites frustration with a deadlock in the Roundhouse over education reform as a factor in her decision.
Cynthia Nava joined today the growing list of state senators who aren’t seeking re-election, and Joseph Cervantes quickly announced that he’ll try to replace Nava in the Senate instead of seeking another term in the House.
Nava, who chairs the Senate Education Committee, cited frustration with a deadlock in the Roundhouse over education reform as a factor in her decision, and said she’ll look for other opportunities to make a difference.
“It just seems like we’re kind of spinning our wheels in that regard because of the partisanship,” Nava, a Las Cruces Democrat, told NMPolitics.net. “I’m just looking for an arena where I can make a positive difference.”
Gov. Susana Martinez has considered Nava an ally in her efforts to reform education, including a proposal to put an end so-called “social promotion.” Nava worked this year, without success, to find compromise between many Democrats and the governor on that issue.
Nava has represented District 31, which includes Southern Doña Ana County and part of Las Cruces, since 1993. She’s a former superintendent of the Gadsden Independent School District.
She’s the sixth senator to decide not to seek re-election this year. Others include Albuquerque Democrats Dede Feldman, who is retiring, and Eric Griego, who is giving up his state Senate seat to run for the 1st Congressional District seat in the U.S. House; and Republicans Clinton Harden of Clovis, Vernon Asbill of Carlsbad, and Mark Boitano of Albuquerque, who are all retiring (read more about Harden’s departure here, Asbill’s here and Boitano’s here).
They’re joined by several House members – all Democrats – who are also not seeking re-election. In addition to Cervantes, they are Speaker Ben Luján of Námbe and Danice Picraux of Albuquerque, who are retiring; Al Park of Albuquerque, who is running for a seat on the Public Regulation Commission; Bill O’Neill of Albuquerque, who is running for the Senate seat being vacated by Feldman; and Joni Gutierrez of Mesilla, who is instead seeking the political position of Democratic national committeewoman for New Mexico.
Cervantes committed to improving public education
Cervantes said in a news release that Nava was aware of his candidacy for her Senate seat and “asked for and received my commitment to continue her work improving our public education system, and her dedication to the Gadsden School District.” Cervantes is another Democrat who has sided with the governor on the social-promotion issue.
Cervantes, who has represented House District 52 since 2001, has developed a reputation as an independent Democrat and a reformer. He was twice involved in unsuccessful attempts to unseat Luján and spent much of his time sponsoring legislation related to transparency and reform.
Successes his news release cited in those areas include “the proposed constitutional amendment for increased qualifications of Public Regulation Commissioners… legislation to assure government reforms, whistleblower protections, open legislative committees and measures to recover millions of misappropriated tax dollars.”
Cervantes said he and Nava “have enjoyed a strong and cooperative working relationship representing many of the same communities in both the House and Senate over the past decade.”
“I look forward to representing these same communities in the Senate, and to new opportunities representing those border areas best positioned to lead our state in economic development and job creation,” he said.
Nava: ‘future can only be addressed by working together’
Nava said she is “proud of what I’ve been able to do with our constituents” and said serving 20 years is “a good, long record.”
“It’s just time to move on to different opportunities,” Nava said. “The mistake a lot of people make is they get in there and they never leave.”
Nava married former Environment Secretary Ron Curry last year. She said that also factored into her decision.
But in a prepared statement, like in her interview with NMPolitics.net, Nava focused on education reform.
“My passion has been and remains in the area of education and reform, because it is through education that our communities are improved and enriched,” she said in the statement. “Our children are our future, and that future can only be addressed by working together.”
Update, 10:30 a.m.
Andrew Moralez said he’ll run for the House seat Cervantes is vacating. He’s a former Sunland Park city manager, N.M. Border Authority executive director, and constituent services director for former Gov. Bill Richardson. He said a formal announcement will come later.