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Benavidez seeking Dem nomination for treasurer


Heather Benavidez would like to be New Mexico’s 31st state treasurer.

She is a candidate in the June 7 Democratic primary for the office, running against Laura Montoya. The winner faces Republican Harry B. Montoya in the November general election. Incumbent Treasurer Tim Eichenberg, a Democrat, is term limited.

Benavidez was born in Albuquerque and grew up in Belen, New Mexico, graduating from Belen High School. She has a master’s degree in public administration from the University of New Mexico. Benavidez served eight years as a Valencia County magistrate judge and was elected to two terms as municipal judge for the City of Rio Communities (Valencia County). She began working in the state Treasurer’s Office in 2017 and has been chief of staff since 2020.

“Safety, liquidity and yield” is “the philosophy we adhere to in the state’s treasurer’s office for all investments,” Benavidez said in a telephone interview.

Eichenberg “has a good reputation and has done a great job” as state treasurer, she said. “The office has been under great leadership for the past 15 and a half years and I’d like to maintain that,” Benavidez said.

If she’s elected treasurer, Benavidez said one change she would like to make, if it can be accomplished without costing additional taxpayer dollars, would be to open state treasurer’s offices in both Las Cruces and Albuquerque to expand opportunities for advocacy programs and to make it easier for state residents to access services and educational opportunities provided by the treasurer.

The satellite offices would also allow the treasurer’s office to provide more financial literacy education to “youth all over the state,” she said. And they would make it easier to administer the retirement savings program New Mexico will implement in July 2024, Benavidez said. The program, which encourages saving by people who don’t have savings programs where they work, is a unique partnership between New Mexico and Colorado.

Benavidez said she has traveled throughout New Mexico as coordinator of the ABLE (Achieving a Better Life Experience) New Mexico program, which “enables qualifying people with physical and intellectual disabilities to establish tax-free savings accounts,” she said. The accounts “are very important,” Benavidez said, because without them the approximately 1,300 people who have the accounts could not have more than $2,000 in savings without losing their disability benefits.

In addition to being responsible for the investment of $11 billion in state funds, the treasurer’s office

Administers the Local Government Investment Pool (LGIP), Benavidez said, which offers professional money management for tribes and local governments. LGIP currently has more than 100 participating entities around the state, she said, and recently added Lordsburg to the pool.

“I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to visit small communities and listen to the different stories,”Benavidez said.

Benavidez said she recognizes that “not everybody has the same accessibility or needs,” but part of the state treasurer’s job is to look at, understand and deliver for all communities in the state.

Eichenberg has endorsed Benavidez in the Democratic primary, as have state Sens. Bill Soules and Carrie Hamblen, both Las Cruces Democrats.

Benavidez said she is grateful for all the endorsements she has received, especially those “from younger folks. it’s really important that we mentor our young people and listen and guide them, especially if they are currently serving the public,” she said.

Benavidez said Eichenberg’s advice to her in running for state treasurer was to “focus on the reason you’re doing it.” For Benavidez that means to “continue serving New Mexicans every day and doing it from a very pure place in your heart.”

Visit https://heatherfornm.com and https://nmsto.gov/.