Challenge filing deadlines need to be extended

The details are not too much to ask for. Especially if a New Mexican wants to serve on the powerful agency that regulates business and industry in this state — and be paid $90,000 a year to boot.

In 2012, New Mexico voters approved three of four constitutional amendments to reform the Public Regulation Commission, which had been rocked by scandal after scandal in recent years.

One amendment called for the Legislature to set higher minimum standards for PRC candidates, which it did in 2013. Before that, requirements for candidates were pretty simple: 18 years or older, a state resident for at least a year and not be a convicted felon.

Now, candidates must have at least 10 years of work experience in businesses or fields related to the PRC’s duties, or a combination of relevant work and higher education (with a license or degree) equaling at least 10 years of experience, or be a sitting PRC commissioner as of Jan. 1, 2013.

But establishing those requirements is another matter. Secretary of State Dianna Duran’s office only requires candidates to file an affidavit stating they qualify. The office maintains it’s not its job to enforce honesty. But someone should, and the secretary of state’s office seems like the place to at least give voters a chance to do so.

According to the new law, voters may contest whether a candidate meets the qualifications, but challenges must be filed in state court within 10 days after a filing. That’s not enough time, especially when supporting information is not included.

PRC Commissioner Valerie Espinoza, D-Santa Fe, wants the law amended to extend the deadline for filing challenges and to require candidates to present proof of their qualifications.

Both are good ideas — and the information should be available to the public.

Meanwhile, the secretary of state’s office should step up to the plate and show some helpful initiative in this regard. That would honor the spirit of the law and, more importantly, give voters the information they need.

— Albuquerque Journal