SENATOR PETER WIRTH
Senator Peter Wirth (D-25-Santa Fe) has served in the New Mexico State Senate since 2008, representing a district that runs from Tesuque Pueblo to Glorieta and includes a large portion of The City of Santa Fe. He previously represented District 47 in the House of Representatives from 2004 through 2008. Senator Wirth said the reason he decided to run for office in the first place is because he had a passion for public service.
When he isn’t working at the Legislature, Wirth is a lawyer and mediator at Sawtell, Wirth & Biedscheid. In 1982, he graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Spanish and then went to law school at the University of New Mexico where he received a Juris Doctorate in 1990. Wirth then became a law clerk for the Honorable Oliver Seth, a Federal Judge with the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. Currently, his civil law practice concentrates on mediation and alternative dispute resolution.
In this current legislative session, Wirth is concentrating on water conservation for the state, gun control and is working on bills that tighten up law against texting while driving, amongst other issues. During his nine years in the Legislature, 48 of the bills he sponsored are now law.
Senator Wirth is the Chair of the Senate Conservation Committee and serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee. During the interim, he is Chair of Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee and is a member of the Water and Tax Committees and the Drought Sub-Committee. Within his community he has also been active in a number of organizations and boards including: the St. Vincent Hospital Foundation from 1991 to 2000, the Santa Fe Children’s Museum from 2000 to 2004 where he was board chair for two years, the Historic Santa Fe Foundation from 1991 to 1995, where he returned to serve as board president from 1997 to 2003, and Rotary International.
Common Cause named him as the 2011 recipient of the “Jack Taylor Best in Government” award. Conservation Voters New Mexico also named him one of its top–five favorites in 2014.
He is married to Carol Romero-Wirth and they have two children.
SENATOR TIMOTHY KELLER (Term ended 2015)
Senator Tim Keller
Senate Majority Whip, Timothy Keller, who became a recent member of the Senate Leadership in 2012, was first elected as a state senator in 2008 at the age of 29. His term began the next year and he hit the ground running, proving that he was efficient, hardworking, innovative and eager to serve his constituents. He ran for a second term once again in 2012 to represent District 17 of Albuquerque and was re-elected. District 17 includes East Central Albuquerque and the International District areas around Expo NM and Kirtland Air Force Base. Sen. Keller has been an ardent champion of the diversity of his district and its’ the revitalization efforts. District 17 is the state’s most diverse district where 27 languagues are spoken and is the only area in New Mexico with a vibrant Asian and African refugee communities.
Before Keller became a legislator, he studied out of state and received his degrees from Notre Dame and Harvard. He later returned home to New Mexico, where he worked as an investment banker with Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette focusing on energy technology corporate finance. As an entrepreneur, he moved to Cambodia and spent three years co-founding Data Digital Divide (DDD), a social enterprise which extends help to land mine victims and other disadvantaged people.
It was only a matter of time before this natural leader decided to run for public office. “I grew up here and was fortunate enough to receive a good education and professional experience background but ever since my time at St. Pius X high school, I have felt a vocational calling to give back to our state. I used to use my vacation time to volunteer up in the Senate and dreamed of one day being a part of the chamber,” said Keller.
For this year’s legislative session, Keller will be sponsoring several bills focusing on education, healthcare, water and land issues, and government reform.
Sen. Keller is a member of several committees, including: Legislative Council, Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy, the Science, Technology and Telecommunications, Economic and Rural Development, Investments and Pensions Oversight, Land Grant, Military and Veterans Affairs, NM Finance Authority Oversight, Legislative Finance, Corporations and Transportation, and Public Affairs.
He’s also sat on several boards including: the Open Hands Foundation, Road Runner Food Bank Capital Campaign, the Asian American Association and Albuquerque Southeast Team for Entrepreneur Development.
Sen. Keller says he’s really enjoyed being a part of the Senate Leadership and said he was thankful to have Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez teach him about the process in learning to manage the floor.
When Sen. Keller isn’t working as a business economist or making important decisions at the legislature, he’s busy raising his 5 month old daughter Maya with his wife, Elizabeth Kistin from Corrales. The two say they both enjoy being new parents.
SENATOR GERALD (JERRY) ORTIZ Y PINO
Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino
Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino has proudly represented the 12th
District of Bernalillo County since 2005. Even before he became a senator he was no stranger to the state legislature, since his career as a social worker allowed him to work closely with elected officials in the past on a variety of human services, and child welfare and behavioral health issues. After over 40 years Senator Ortiz y Pino retired in 2008, but his work is far from over as he continues to fight for the issues he’s passionate about.
“I decided to run when Richard Romero, my predecessor in this district, opted to run for Congress in 2004 rather than seeking re-election. I thought I might be able to be more effective in human service issues by working within the system rather than as a citizen lobbyist,” Ortiz y Pino said.
For the upcoming 2014 session Ortiz y Pino plans to focus on the current behavioral health issue in the state. Considering the Medicaid funding freeze for the majority of behavioral health providers in New Mexico, by executive order of the Administration, he says legislators need to exercise their power. “I think the Legislature needs to reassert its role in policy making and stop ceding authority over this system to the Executive,” he noted. The Senator has also confirmed that he will be proposing a constitutional amendment modeled on Colorado’s and Washington’s, to legalize marijuana in New Mexico. He will also be carrying several appropriation bills for our interim Health and Human Services Committee.
Ortiz y Pino currently serves as the Chair of the Legislative Public Affairs Committee, and the Vice Chair of the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee. He is also an active member of the Behavioral Health Subcommittee, the Rules Committee, and the Land Grant Committee
When Senator Ortiz y Pino isn’t busy at the legislature, he enjoys the company of his wife of 25 years, Donna Bruzzese, a marriage and family therapist in private practice in Albuquerque. He has three from a previous marriage and she has four from her first marriage. They now have 12 grandchildren, ranging in age from 16 to 9 months. Ortiz y Pino says he enjoys spending time being a grandpa and gets to interact with some of his grandchildren quite often.
When Ortiz y Pino and his wife aren’t working or enjoying family time, they spend time in El Salvador, working with a non-profit organization for impoverished children. “Donna and I are members of the Peace and Justice Commission at our parish church, the Newman Center at UNM. Each year we send a delegation from our commission to El Salvador working with the Association for the Protection of the Human Rights of Children (APRODEHNI ),” he said.
Ortiz y Pino says his primary mentor in the Senate was now-retired Senator Dede Feldman. “But I have learned a great deal about how our little micro-universe works from numerous other colleagues, particularly Michael Sanchez, Pete Campos, Cisco McSorley and Stuart Ingle, each of whom have taken the time to correct some of my misconceptions as well as offering sound advice about how to recover from knockout blows. It is a fascinating place and I learn something new about it and its byzantine processes and culture every single day…as often as not from my mistakes and defeats as from my successes,” he noted.
Ortiz y Pino received his social work degree (MSW) from Tulane University in New Orleans in 1968.
His professional background includes working as the City of Albuquerque’s Director of the Department of Family and Community Services and also as the director of the Child and Family Services division of HELP-NM, a statewide non-profit which works in rural communities.