Legislative Expo Kicks Off 2023

The 2023 Legislative Expo was spirited, engaged, participatory, and successful! At the end of the day, hundreds of Bernalillo County Democrats went home revitalized, recommitted, and rarin’ to go into the new year and new legislative session.

The Expo opened with presentment of colors by the state Veterans’ and Military Families Caucus and a brief opening speech by Bernalillo County chair Flora Lucero. U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury, CD1, who mere hours earlier stood nearby during an altercation among GOP members on the floor of the House, appeared by zoom to rally the hundreds of Bernalillo County constituents gathered at the Workforce Training Center. She reminded us of Democrats’ accomplishments in D.C.—among them passing a budget that will fund more New Mexico relief for fire damage, increase healthcare and housing programs, and bring a new $90 million-dollar water system to the To’ hajiilee Navajo chapter just 60 miles west of Albuquerque. That bill also approved New Mexico’s Early Childhood initiative favored by some 70% of New Mexico voters in November.

State House Speaker-elect Javier Martinez followed in person, pointing out that the former U.S. representative defeated by Gabe Vasquez attempted to block approval of the childhood initiative and vowing that funding from the initiative will “transform” the State by supporting children from birth through high school and their families. Although passage took more than a decade, he said, the funding will change the lives of a whole generation.

The Speaker-elect reviewed other transformative policies initiated by New Mexico’s Democratic legislature—including tax credits that generate support for working families and families with children, budget diversification through cannabis legalization, and policies supporting solutions for affordable housing, drug addiction, climate and infrastructure challenges. He encouraged constituents to stay in touch with legislators during the Expo and beyond, and concluded that Democrats fight for values: families, inclusion, diversity, justice, fairness and compassion.

Gabe Gallegos, chair of the Young Democrats, followed the Speaker-elect and introduced the group’s executive team, encouraging everyone to bring more young voters into the organization.

Breakouts followed in four separate rooms in two approximately 90-minute sessions, offering 28 state legislators the opportunity to discuss the bills they will support when the 56th legislature begins January 17 and giving constituents the opportunity to ask questions and suggest legislation. Before, during, and after the sessions, 10 interest groups and caucuses distributed information and recruited members in the central atrium of the Center.

State party chair Jessica Velasquez closed the day, acknowledging how Bernalillo County Democrats’ commitment and hard work is improving New Mexico’s present and future.