Hector Balderas

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Hector Balderas
Hector Balderas.jpg
State Auditor of New Mexico
Incumbent
Assumed office
January 1, 2007
Preceded by Domingo Martinez
Personal details
Born (1973-08-16) August 16, 1973 (age 41)
Denver, Colorado
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Denise Balderas
Children Hector, Arianna, Mariola
Alma mater University of New Mexico School of Law (J.D.)
New Mexico Highlands University (B.S.)
Profession Attorney
Religion Roman Catholic
Website State Auditor’s Website
Campaign Website
Great seal of the state of New Mexico.png
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Mexico

Hector H. Balderas Jr. (born August 16, 1973) is an American attorney, former prosecutor, and politician who is currently serving as the State Auditor of New Mexico.[1] Balderas became the youngest statewide Hispanic elected official in the nation in 2006 when he won his first race for State Auditor at the age of 33.[2] Before being elected to the office of State Auditor, Balderas served as a State Representative in the New Mexico Legislature from 2004 to 2006. Balderas also serves as the elected Treasurer of the National Association of Latino Elected Officials.[3]

On April 21, 2011, Hector Balderas filed the necessary paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate seat left open by retiring Democrat Jeff Bingaman in the 2012 Democratic U.S. Senate Primary in New Mexico.[4][5][6] Currently, Hector Balderas is the Democratic nominee for Attorney General in New Mexico's 2014 general election.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Balderas was raised in Wagon Mound, New Mexico, a village in Mora County, New Mexico. He is the son of a Mexican father and was raised by his single mother in Wagon Mound. Balderas attended Wagon Mound High School and participated in TRIO Upward Bound, a federally funded college prep program. TRIO programs serve disadvantaged youth living in poverty progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to college programs. Other notable TRIO alumni include:

Angela Bassett, Academy Award Nominated Actress

Donna Brazille, Political Strategist, TV Commentator

Franklin Chang-Diaz, First Hispanic Astronaut

Viola Davis, Academy Award Nominated Actress

Patrick Ewing, Olympian and Former Professional Basketball Player

A.C. Green, Former Professional Basketball Player

Jose Hernandez, Second Hispanic Astronaut

Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Music Producers

Kenny Leon, Tony Award nominee

Gwendolynne Moore, US Congresswoman

Troy Polamalu, Professional Football Player

John Quinones, Correspondent for ABC News, "Prime Time Live"

Oprah Winfrey, Network Talk Show Host

Hector graduated from Wagon Mound High school with 16 other students. Balderas attended New Mexico Highlands University where he served on the student senate. Balderas grew up in public housing but became the first person in his family and from Wagon Mound to receive a Juris Doctor (JD), graduating in 2001 from the University of New Mexico School of Law. While in law school, Balderas served as the Council Chair of the Graduate and Professional Student Association.[7]

After coming up short on his first attempt at the bar exam, Balderas retook it and passed on his second attempt. He was admitted into the New Mexico bar in 2002. He served from 2002 to 2003 as an Assistant District Attorney for Bernalillo County prosecuting DUI and domestic violence offenders.[8] Between 2005 and 2006, Balderas was a special prosecutor for domestic violence cases in the 4th Judicial District of New Mexico.[9] In 2006, he was awarded the Outstanding Young Lawyer Award by the New Mexico Bar Association. In 2010, Hector Balderas was awarded the Liberty and Justice Award by the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association for his contributions to empowerment for Hispanics in education and the legal profession. Balderas is also a Certified Fraud Examiner as sanctioned by The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE).

Political career[edit]

State Representative[edit]

At the age of 29, and with no prior political experience, Balderas ran for a seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives. He beat the odds when he defeated a Democratic incumbent in the primary by a two-to-one margin and then beat a Republican in the general election.[10]

In his first term as a State Representative from District 68, Balderas passed sweeping legislation to strengthen penalties for sexual predators, worked to strengthen drug laws restricting methamphetamine and date rape drugs, establish investment incentives for clean energy and fund virtual education for rural public schools. Balderas also sponsored “truthful interrogations” legislation which gained national recognition as one of the most significant reforms to the criminal justice system. Balderas was nationally recognized alongside then State Senator Barack Obama of Illinois for passing legislation that requires police to record their in-house interrogations with suspected killers. "Having the best evidence is in everyone's interest," Balderas said. "I think the average person sees it as common sense." In the same two-year period, Balderas led the effort to amend the New Mexico Criminal Code to reflect consistency and parity in sentencing. He also advocated for DUI reform and led the fight to protect consumers from price gouging in times of emergency or disaster.

In recognition of his legislative accomplishments, Balderas was named Rookie-Leader-of-the-Year by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce for his work on energy development and Outstanding Rookie by the League of Conservation Voters.

State Auditor[edit]

During his first legislative term, he was chosen by the Democratic Party of New Mexico to replace Jeff Armijo on the ballot for State Auditor and with a shorter period to campaign, won the election with nearly 55% of the vote.[11] He was re-elected in 2010 and earned the second most number of votes for any of New Mexico’s Democratic statewide candidates.[12]

As New Mexico’s State Auditor, Balderas provides regulatory oversight to over $60 billion in governmental assets and 603 government entities with a clear focus on stomping out waste, abuse and corruption. As the state’s top government watchdog, Balderas has aggressively combated fraud and financial abuse throughout New Mexico by building investigative units and working closely with local prosecutors and federal law enforcement agencies. Additionally, he has expanded the size and scope of the State Auditor’s office by hiring criminal investigators, developing a fraud hotline and expanding training and outreach operations.[13] Balderas also helped uncover embezzlement from the Jemez Mountain School District involving more than $3 million. A finance manager for the school system pleaded guilty to multiple felonies and then killed herself before she was sentenced. Balderas has also launched successful special audits and investigations of state government agencies ranging from the Public Regulation Commission, New Mexico Finance Authority and State Land Office, to local government entities such as the Bernalillo County Treasurer’s Office, City of Sunland Park and the Region III Housing Authority. Auditor Balderas’ investigations and audits have helped to build successful cases for law enforcement agencies across the State of New Mexico.

Balderas has taken the Office of State Auditor from a position of obscurity to a well-known state entity through high profile investigations that protect the interests of all New Mexicans..[citation needed] As a State Representative and State Auditor, Balderas has earned a reputation for being a champion of youth involvement in policy making, enacting common-sense laws for policy issues ranging from clean energy to police interrogation, and for coming down on members of both parties in investigations of fraud and waste.[citation needed]

U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

Balderas was a candidate for the US Senate seat in 2012 held by retiring Democrat Jeff Bingaman. He announced his run for the United States Senate on April 26, 2011 by launching his website and announcing via Video on YouTube.

Other positions[edit]

  • Treasurer Board Member, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).[1] NALEO is a national nonpartisan organization with a network of more than 6,000 governmental, political, and business leaders who conduct civic projects, training and technical assistance for the Latino community. There are 24 members on the board of directors.
  • Certified Fraud Examiner as certified by The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), the world’s largest anti-fraud organization and leading provider of anti-fraud training and education.
  • Delegate, American Council of Young Political Leaders.[2] Balderas has traveled to Pakistan as a selected delegate for the American Council of Young Political Leaders. While in Pakistan, Balderas met with the country’s Foreign Minister and leaders from all political parties to discuss developing better international relations and cooperation. In New Mexico, Balderas has hosted leadership delegations from China, Czech Republic, and several African nations to promote greater transparency and accountability in government.

Honors and accolades[edit]

  • Recipient of the 2011 Conservation Voters New Mexico Sunshine Award. Balderas was recognized for his steadfast work as State Auditor in rooting out fraud and corruption, and shining sunlight on the operations of state government. According to CVNM, his hard work has resulted in millions of dollars of savings and the enforcement of key safeguards that protect New Mexico’s natural resources.[14]
  • Recipient of the 2010 recipient John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award, which honors young Americans who are changing their community through a commitment to public service. He is the first New Mexican to receive the annual award. The award is presented annually to exceptional young Americans under the age of 40 whose contributions in elective office, community service or advocacy demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.[15]
  • New Mexico State Bar Association 2006 Outstanding Young Lawyer Award.[3]
  • In 2010, Hector Balderas was awarded the Liberty and Justice Award by the New Mexico Hispanic Bar Association for his contributions to empowerment for Hispanics in education and the legal profession.

Personal life[edit]

Balderas and his wife Denise have three children, Hector III, Arianna and Mariola. Balderas is a special needs advocate and frequent participant in the New Mexico Special Olympics annual torch run; his daughter Arianna was born with down syndrome. He also has two siblings and is a practicing Catholic.

References[edit]

External links[edit]