RIO RANCHO, N.M. — A Rio Ranchoan active in the community is filling the state House of Representatives seat vacated by Tim Lewis.
The Republican Sandoval County Central Committee in early August elected Joshua Hernandez as the unopposed candidate to replace Lewis on the ballot.
“I’m really looking forward to being able to carry on and help our community as best I can,” Hernandez said. “I really just want to be a voice for not just District 60, but for all of Rio Rancho.”
He added that he looked forward to working with the area’s other legislators.
Lewis, also a Rio Rancho resident, represented District 60 for 10 years before withdrawing his candidacy in July. He said he wanted to spend more time with his family and didn’t believe he should make politics a career.
Republican Party of Sandoval County Chairman Daniel Stoddard said Lewis suggested Hernandez as his replacement.
“I believe he’ll do a wonderful job,” Stoddard said of Hernandez.
He said Hernandez is young, hard-working and engaged with the party and county. The other person vying for the party nomination was former Sandoval County Commissioner Glenn Walters.
Lewis had no opposition in the primary or general election. He is finishing his current term, which lasts until the end of this year.
Under New Mexico law, no other party can enter the race after the primary election.
An Albuquerque native, Hernandez moved to Rio Rancho about 10 years ago. He works for Agenda, a public affairs and strategic communications firm in Albuquerque.
He said his first priorities as a representative will be small-business support, public safety and education, although he expects the list to grow.
“With COVID, I think that our small businesses in New Mexico need help,” he said. “Hundreds of them have closed already, and we’re not out of the pandemic. So I’m sure there will be more victims.”
Hernandez said he’s seen how hard his parents work to provide for the family with their small business, and COVID-19 has made it harder. He wants to help the businesses already in the state and bring in more, even though that will be difficult because of the pandemic.
“Education is always a priority,” Hernandez also said.
New Mexicans are tired of ranking near the bottom in that area, he said.
“I’m a huge supporter of law enforcement,” he continued.
He said police and other first responders need the resources and tools to keep communities safe.