On August 11, as was predicted by www.PeteDinelli.com, Cristina Parajón was appointed by the Bernalillo County Commission to fill the District 25 seat vacancy in the New Mexico House of Representatives thereby succeeding longtime State Representative Christine Trujillo who resigned on June 7. Trujillo is a retired school teacher who had served in the New Mexico Legislature for 11 years.
Cristina Parajón, age 27, is the director of strategy for the New Mexico Human Services Department and she becomes the youngest female state legislator. She also must resign her job with the state because state law prohibits state employees from holding elective office.
4 TO 1 VOTE APPOINTMENT WITH POLITICAL DRAMA
Parajón was one of seven applicants. The other six applicants who applied to fill the vacancy were:
- Retired Metro Court Administrator Robert Padilla (D)
- Deputy Chief of Staff to Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury Sofia Sanchez (D)
- 26 year licensed private attorney Brian A. Thomas (D)
- Long time NM Vecinos Unted Director and community activist Andres P. Valdez (D)
- APS Secondary Social Studies teacher Derek James Villaneuva (D)
- 10 year US Army veteran and NM legislative aide Denis Litvinenko (R)
You can review each applicant’s letter of application and resume by clicking on each of the candidate names above.
PARAJÓN’S IMPRESSIVE EDUCATION WITH THIN RESUME OF JOB EXPIERENCE
Review of Cristina Parajón (D) resume reveals impressive academic credentials but a thin resume of work experience which is to be expected of a 27 year old.
Parajón is a 2018 graduate of Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts having earned a Bachelor of Arts in sociology. In 2019 she graduated from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China having earned a Masters in Management Sciences.
From 2019 to 2023 Parajón has held 5 jobs and she is soon to be unemployed. Those 5 jobs were:
August 2019 to April 2020 (8 months): University of New Mexico Office for Community Health, Special Projects Coordinator “analyzing medical data for the viability of clinical services for the City Westside Emergency Housing Center.”
April 2020 to September 2020 (5 months): Deputy Incident Commander, City of Albuquerque Emergency Operations Center to deal with logistics associated with COVID quarantine and isolation hotels.
September 2020 to September 2021 (1 year): Employed as consultant working in New York, NY, for Oliver Wyman working on availability of prescription drugs to the under privileged and minorities.
September 2021 to May 2023 (1 year, 9 months): Gateway Homeless Shelter Administer, City of Albuquerque appointed by Keller Administration.
July 2023 to present (1 month): Director of Strategy, New Mexico Human Services Department.
AN UNEMPLOYED STATE REPRSENTATIVE?
Cristine Parajón is required and has yet to announce her resignation as a state employee. Parajón needs to resign her employment with the State of New Mexico Human Services Department now that she has been appointed a state representative. New Mexico statutory law is clear that no state employee can hold political elective office except for a non-partisan county or municipal office. The statute is Section 10-9-1 NMSA, 1978.
City of Albuquerque personnel rules and regulations and ethics rules are also clear that employees of the City are prohibited from running for an elective office of the State of New Mexico or any of its political subdivisions, therefore she can not return to city employment.
AUGUST 11 COUNTY COMMISSION VOTE
After a meeting that lasted 70 minutes and included a few public statements from the applicants and the general public, Parajón was nominated by Commissioner Eric Olivas with her nomination seconded by Commissioner Adriann Barboa. The final vote was 4 to 1. Progressive Democrats County Commissioners Eric Olivas, Barbara Baca and Adriann Barboa and Republican Walt Benson voted for Parajón’s appointment while Democrat Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada voted against it. The only surprise vote was that of Republican Benson.
What is interesting to note is how the August 11 County Commission meeting and vote went down. Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada was forced to appear by ZOOM because he had a conflicting schedule and was traveling New Mexico in his car to speak at a number of events involving education issues. Quezada noted he was never asked if he would be available for the meeting.
Parajón was the very first person nominated. She was nominated by Commissioner Eric Olivas with the second made by Commissioner Barboa. What made the nomination interesting is that Barboa is believed to have recruited Parajón to apply in the first place.
Four others were nominated, one by Commissioner Baca who nominated Sofia Sanchez who is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury. Baca likely nominated Sanchez out of courtesy to Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury knowing full well she would simply turn around and vote for Parajón. Commissioner Quezada nominated Robert Padilla, the retired Metro Court Administrator, and Derek James Villaneuva, an Albuquerque School Teacher. The first vote was taken on the Cristine Parajón nomination and she won prevailing with a 4 to 1 vote negating any further voting on the others.
Immediately after being sworn into office, Parajón announced her candidacy to run for a full term to keep the seat. House District 25 is located in the Albuquerque’s mid heights and covers much of the area between Lomas and Montgomery and Carlisle and Louisiana.
PARAJÓN ANNOUNCES PRIORITIES
Soon after the County Commission voted, Parajón was interviewed by the Albuquerque Journal which reported this in part:
“Paragon has a background in public health and social services, having worked as a deputy incident commander for one of the state’s COVID-19 isolation hotels and as the project lead for the Gateway Center. Parajón told the Albuquerque Journal that her top legislative priorities include infrastructure in District 25, addressing homelessness and the housing crisis by funding behavioral health and improving health care by boosting the number of primary care doctors in the state.
In the 30-day legislative session, which will start in January 2024, Parajón said her priority would be to evaluate the success of state programs using metrics. Parajón, who referred to the budget as a “moral document,” said she would like to see more funding for the state Economic Development Department as well as additional investments in green energy and education.”
Parajón told the Journal this:
“My dad is a primary care doc. … I drop him off at 7:30 in the morning, and I pick him up at 9 p.m., because there are not enough docs to cover at his clinic. So I really want to ensure that New Mexicans have the best health care here … and that we are raising up the amount of doctors. … Hearing from my community … how difficult the pandemic was, it just felt a little weird to me to be working at my corporate job. … I really wanted to make an impact back home. So I moved back — and it was the best decision that I ever made.”
The link to the quoted news source is here:
RESIDENCY LENGTH IN DISRICT 25 CHALLENGED
Although born and raised in Albuquerque, Cristin Parajón, age 27, moved away from New Mexico approximately in 2015 to attend Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts where she also changed her residency and voter registration. She later worked in New York City for one year. She untimely returned to the Albuquerque less than 3 years ago in 2020.
During the August 11 Bernalillo County Commission meeting, fellow HD District 25 applicant and longtime community activist Andres P. Valdez raised concerns after a recent Dinelli blog report that Parajón had moved to the district on June 8, just one day after Trujillo announced her resignation. According to Bernalillo County’s legal department, although applicants need to live in the district to serve, there is no minimum length of residency to qualify to fill a vacancy.
The report Andres P. Valdez was referring to was the August 10 report entitled “Fix Is In To Fill NM House District 25 Vacancy; Cristine Parajón Changed Voter Registration Address Day After Vacancy Occurred; Politcal Movidas At The Worse As County Commissioner Barboa Recruits Parajón” published on www.PeteDinelli.com.
COUNTY ASSESSOR RECORDS AND VOTER REGISTRATION CARDS
It was on June 7 that New Mexico State Representative Christine Trujillo announced her resignation from the New Mexico House of Representatives, District 25 effective July 1. Parajón filed a change in voter registration on June 8 giving a change in address. Review of Cristine Parajón’s voter registration cards reveals that she had lived in the district a mere 22 days before applications were being accepted on June 30, 2023 by the Bernalillo County Commission to fill the vacancy.
There are 3 voter registration cards on file with the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office with all three signed by Cristine Parajón. All 3 merit review to outline the lengths she took to change her address.
The Parajón voter registration cards gives two separate addresses, one that is within HD District 25 and the other that is in HD District 18.
One address is a Broadmoor Street address which is NOT in NM House District 25 but in House District 18. Bernalillo County Assessor’s Office on line records reveal that the home in House District 18 is owned by two people named Chingchih Chanchien and Laura Chanchien Parajón, the first person believed to be the brother or father and the second believed to be the mother of Cristine Parajón.
The second is a Chinlee Street Address and it is within NM House District 25. Bernalillo County Assessor’s Office on line records reveal that the home is owned by Laura Chanchien Parajón who is believed to be the mother of Cristine Parajón.
The first voter registration card is dated and signed by Parajón on November 4, 2022. The registration card gives the Broadmoor Street address that is within NM House District 18.
The second Parajón voter registration card was signed on June 8, 2023 the next day after the Trujillo resignation, making the change in her address for voting purposes and determining the House District where she resides. The new registration card provides a home address on Chinlee Street which is in House District 25. The registration card gives the Broadmoor Avenue Street in District 18 as the location where she gets mail.
The Parajón’s Broadmoor address caused confusion with the Democratic Party and the Bernalillo County Commission staff who reviewed the DNC VOTEBUIDER data base and county voter registration records respectively that initially determine that Cristine S. Parajón was registered at the Broadmoor home address that is not within HD District 25 but HD District 18.
The second voter registration card also contains information worth noting. It indicates she lived and was registered to vote in another state before she moved back to Albuquerque. The second voter registration card provides that she gave authorization to cancel her previous voter registration in the city of Cambridge, the County of Middlesex in the State of Massachusetts. Parajón is a graduate of Harvard University, which is located in Cambridge, Mass., and ostensibly she registered to vote in Massachusetts while she attended college preferring not to vote absentee in New Mexico.
The third Parajón voter registration card is dated July 1, 2023. It gives a Chinlee Street address where she now ostensively lives with her mother and the same Chinlee Street address where she gets mail. As noted above the Bernalillo County Assessor on line records reflect that the Chinlee residence is owned by Laura Chanchien Parajón who is believed to be the mother of Cristine Parajón
PARAJÓN OFFERS WEAK EXPLANATION OF DISCREPANCIES
On August 10, Cristine S. Parajón and all 5 Bernalillo County Commissioners as well as all applicants for the HD District 25 vacancy were sent by attachment the 3 voter registration cards. On August 11, Parajón sent the following email to Pete Dinelli:
“I appreciate your commitment to integrity and the democratic process. It seems you have been given misleading information– thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.
I have lived at Chinlee for 3 years with pay stubs, insurance documents and credit card bills to show for it. As I prepared to run, I caught an administrative error in my file and corrected it promptly. As a young person, for short periods of time, I have stayed at various locations for education and to take care of family members — including my brother who lives 4 minutes down the street at the Broadmoor address.”
Over 100 of my neighbors have written letters of support for me, precisely because they know that I am rooted in this community and understand deeply the issues here. I am eternally grateful for their support.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Cristine Parajón states in part in her email to Pete Dinelli “It seems you have been given misleading information — thank you for giving me the opportunity to set the record straight.” The blunt truth is that the only one who has given misleading information on her residency in HD District 25 is Cristine S. Parajón. She has not set the record straight but instead offers excuses. What she did do with the filing of 3 separate voter registration cards is give misleading and conflicting information to the Bernalillo County Clerk, the Bernalillo County Commission, to the Democratic Party and the general public.
During an August 2 forum with the Democratic party applicants sponsored by the Bernalillo Democratic Party, Cristine S. Parajón proudly proclaimed she was raised in the House District 25 by her parents in the Altura neighborhood area. It was far from full disclosure. She did not disclose how she in fact moved in and out of the district over the years and was recruited to apply and run for the position by County Commissioner Adriann Barboa.
At the August 2 Democratic Party function, Commissioner Barboa sat in the audience with Commissioner Eric Olivas and both were introduced. Its likely both already knew who they would vote for a few days later and they were there to give their encouragement to their selected candidate. Their presence at the function gave the appearance of impropriety given the fact that they would be hearing from the applicants on August 11 and would be voting.
What Parajón failed to disclose is that she left for a considerable amount of time to go to college at Harvard University, changed her voter registration to the state of Massachusetts and then went to Tsinghua University in Beijing, China and then later went to work in New York City to then return to work for the City of Albuquerque in 2020 for the Mayor Tim Keller Administration. Upon her return to Albuquerque, she ostensibly lived in District 18 at the Broadmoor address base on her registration cards, that is until she was recruited by Barboa to apply for and run for House District 25.
Parajón’s argument that she has “3 years with pay stubs, insurance documents and credit card bills” is as lame as it gets. As a candidate for office she knows that all that really counts is the representations contained in the 3 voter registration cards which she has signed. Otherwise, she would not have gone out of her way and file 2 registration cards within a matter of days that established her residency for purposes of the appointment.
IGNORING THE QUALIFICATIONS AND CREDENTIALS
There is little doubt that Parajón was the least qualified of the 7 candidates who applied for the HD District 25. The Bernalillo County Commission essentially ignored her lack of experience in legislative matters and how the legislature works, experience that at least 5 of the other applicants do have. The 3 progressive Democrats of Baca, Barboa and Olivas placed greater emphasis on appointing a Progressive Democrat who stood for their own progressive priorities and philosophy and ignored the actual needs and priorities of NM House District 25. Barboa in particular, who makes a living as a registered lobbyist for progressive issues and causes, wanted to make sure she appointed a state legislator she could rely upon and call upon for a vote when the time comes in the legislature.
SNUBBING A CONGRESSWOMAN
Part of the politcal drama involved with the appointment of Cristine S. Parajón by the Bernalillo County Commission is the snubbing and somewhat embarrassment it caused to United State Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury. One of the seven applicants for the appointment and who stood out immediately as highly qualified and initially perceived as the front runner was progressive Democrat Sofia Sanchez. Sophia Sanchez is the current Deputy Chief of Staff and District Director for United States Congresswoman Melanie Stansbury and has served in that capacity since June 2022. Sanchez also served for 4 years as the Deputy District Director for former United States Congresswoman Deb Haaland who is now the United States Secretary for the Department of Interior. Sophia Sanchez was endorsed by former State Representative Christine Trujillo to replace her. During the August 11 Bernalillo County Commission meeting, the clear majority of the public spoke in favor of Sophia Sanchez.
Sources have confirmed that County Commissioner Baca was contacted by Congresswoman Stansbury who asked Baca to vote for Parajón but Baca declined to do that. Baca instead opted to nominate Sanchez and then immediately turning around and voting for Parajón. It’s called adding insult to injury and embarrassing a United State Congresswoman.
Politcal bloggerJoe Monahan quoted in his August 14 post the following political gossip from a confidential source:
“Current Commission Chair Adrian Barboa is turning out to be a cold-blooded politico by taking down Stansbury’s staffer, Sofia Sanchez, in favor of questionable resident Parajón. The Stansbury machine that got her the congressional seat didn’t show up on this one. Similar to her knee-capping of Adrian Carver in the 2020 county commission primary, Barboa, a progressive darling, is clearly not afraid of eating her own. But it’s wild to watch progressives become regressive and embrace the old-fashioned back door politics they claim to be fighting against.”
PARAJÓN RECRUITED BY BARBOA
The legal and constitutional process of filling vacancies in the New Mexico legislature caused by the early departure of a legislator has always rested with the County Commission where the legislators district is located. On paper, it is pretty straight forward process. There are 5 county commissioners and the applicant who secures a 3 vote majority wins, period, end of discussion.
In practice, the process of filling a legislative vacancy is always a very messy process, especially when there are philosophical rifts within the same party that has the majority of the votes on the commission. Such is the current makeup of the Bernalillo County Commission which is comprised of 4 Democrats and 1 Republican.
The current politcal rift is between the 3 the Progressive Democrats of Barbara Baca, Adrianne Barboa and Eric Olivas who have the majority over Moderate Democrat Stephen Michael Quesada and Conservative Republican Walt Benson. It was confirmed by sources that the desires of the county commissioners whose district the vacancy fell within, which in this case was both Barboa and Olivas, would be given much greater consideration and relied upon by Commissioners Barbara Baca. It was the progressive majority of Commissioners Baca, Barboa and Olivas who decided to fill the vacancy giving very little or no consideration to what was said by County Commissioners moderate Democrat Steven Michael Quezada and Conservative Republican Walt Benson.
What progressive Democrat Cristine S. Parajón failed to publicly disclose is that she was recruited to apply and run for House District 25. Three confidential sources within the Democratic Party, including one Ward chair, have confirmed Progressive Democrat Adriann Barboa recruited Progressive Democrat Cristina S. Parajón to apply for the House District 25 vacancy with the full knowledge and approval of Progressive Democrat Eric Olivas. One confidential source also said Barboa initially wanted Parajón to run for City Council District 6. County Commissioner Eric Olivas, despite assurances to the contrary that he had not made up his mind, had also disclosed to confidential sources he intended to vote for whoever Commissioner Barboa wanted which was Cristine S. Parajón who Barboa recruited to run.
TALK OF PRIMARY OPPONANTS AGAINST PARAJÓN AND BARBOA
During the August 11 meeting, County Commissioner Stephen Michael Quesada encourage all the 6 other applicants to run for NM House seat 25. Although Democrat Cristine S. Parajón has announced that she is running to be elected in 2024, it is highly likely she will have a Democratic opponent. At least two potential candidates have privately said they will be running but are not yet prepared to be identified as announced candidates.
Then there is the matter of Bernalillo County Commissioner Adriann Barboa actively recruiting Cristine S. Parajón to apply for the vacancy. Barboa is up for re election in 2024 and she has made it known she intends to seek a second term. It is also known Barboa is worried about a Democratic primary opponent, a concern she expressed before the HD House 25 vacancy. At least two persons have said they intend to run against Barbia, one a prominent progressive and the other in labor, but neither have yet to announce.
What happened with the application and selection process by the Bernalillo County Commission in filling the NM House District 25 legislative vacancy was so very wrong on a number of levels including the ethical considerations.
First, you have 3 County Commissions who could not careless what two of their peers think or have to say and essentially collude behind the scenes.
Second, you have a County Commissioner go out of her way to recruit her own candidate and act like a king maker giving no consideration to what residents in the HD District 25 want and need.
Third, you have a number of even more qualified people who have actually lived in the district much longer and who know its problems. They were forced to jump through the hoops, apply and even participate in good faith in a forum, not realizing that the fix was in from the get go thanks to 3 county commissioners.
Fourth, you had two county commissioners essentially high jack the process of selection by attending a Democratic Party Forum to gather information on the applicants they would be voting on over and above what was made available to their colleagues before a vote was taken a few days later.
Fifth, you have an opportunistic applicant go out of her way to move into a house district she has not lived and who likely does not fully understand the real problems facing the district. The County’s legal department has rendered the opinion that although applicants need to live in the district, there is no minimum length of residency to qualify. That may be true, but voters are not fools and understand that length of residency is critical for an elected official to understand their needs and priorities.
Sixth: Complicating things personally for Parajón is she is conceivably unemployed, will not be able to work for the state or the city of Albuquerque because of her status as a State Representative. The private sector usually is reluctant to hire elected officials who are required to spend too much time on their official job duties as an elected official, including taking 30 and 60 off to attend legislative session.
This is the type of “politcal movidas” that destroy the credibility of politicians. It discourages qualified applicants from even applying. This is the very type of politics that gives the County Commission the bad name it so richly deserves with the filling of legislative vacancies.
This is this type of slimy politics that has given the County Commission such a bad reputation. It begs the need for their appointee Cristrine Parajón to be “primaried” and in particular County Commissioner Andriann Barboa as she seeks a second term in 2024.