Leo Marquez Fights To Keep The Lights On
The June 26 election to fill the District 6 spot for Trustee on the Jemez Mountain Electric Board is not a typical election for government office. In fact, it is not an election for a government position at all.
Leo Marquez, candidate for the District 6 seat on the Jemez Coop Board pointed out the unique nature of the Jemez Mountain Electric Coop, a non-profit organization with a chartered mission to provide electricity to northern New Mexico communities as effectively as possible.
Marquez, one of two candidates for the District 6 seat stressed the importance of understanding the nature of Jemez Mountain Electric Coop (JMEC), and how we can learn from decisions by past trustees on how to keep the lights on in as cost-effective manner as possible.
Marquez, a native of the Valley who has lived in Santa Cruz most of his life, is an accomplished individual with a successful career in public service, currently serving as the Chief Financial Officer for the New Mexico State Treasurer, administering a $3 million budget and a $4 billion investment fund for the State. When Marquez sat down with the Valley Daily Post for an interview he also demonstrated a strong understanding of the nature of rural electric utilities and the challenges JMEC is facing in the future.
Marquez said he believes the current board has done a great job with what they had to deal with. “Four years ago the coop was almost broke,” said Marquez, adding “but this board pulled together the leadership team to fix the budget, deal with the power line easement issues with three tribes, handle the Las Conchas Fire liability claims and addressed the 49% debt ratio”.
Marquez applauds the work of the current Board, in particular John Tapia, the current District 6 incumbent who chose not to run again.
“ John and this board have done well, they kept their promise. They said within their first term they would give back capital credits to all members. And just recently $2 million in checks have been mailed out. I want to build on that.” said Marquez.
Marquez has a vision for the future, saying “Let’s start building up solar capacity, but slowly, and not put us in financial risk”.
Marquez also suggests that JMEC examine ways to lower costs to rate payers/members by examining whether the coop should end its relationship with Tri-State, the electricity wholesaler which supplies the electricity to many New Mexico electric coops.
But whatever JMEC does, Marquez said that the Board must try as best as possible to lower the debt ratio.
“District 6 has 5300 members/rate payers.” Said Marquez, adding “
But in reality, as a trustee I will be responsible for 33,000, the total coop membership. Any changes we do, such as adding more renewable energy, or looking at our dependency on tri state, we must make sure we do so in a fiscally sound manner. To do otherwise risks financial problems, big rate increases, or worse”.
Marquez stressed his readiness to take on these issues, citing his professional experience in finance and public projects, as well as a recent accomplishment. For the past four years Marquez has been enrolled in NMSU’s NM Edge program, a Certified Public Manager Program offered to up and coming leaders with the purpose of encouraging better government through education and providing the specialized training leaders in local government and organizations need in order to be ready to serve their communities effectively.
Leo Marquez is already very involved in the community. He serves on the Big Brothers Big Sisters Board, the Board of HELP NM Community Service Block Grant, and on the Carinos Charter School Board of Directors.
This is also not Marquez’s first run at office. He has previously run for school board twice, but he believes the JMEC Board of Trustees’ unique mission is a great fit for his deep understanding of the issues.
The election for District 6, Ward A spot occurs on Monday, June 26 at the Hands Across Cultures building in La Puebla. A previous article profiling the other candidate in the District 6 race was published HERE.