New elections director named

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By Ralph Damiani

The appointment of Jim Noel, a lawyer who currently heads the Judicial Standards Commission, to be the new director of the state’s Bureau of Elections has drawn some fire from Republicans.

The problem as they see it is that the office is required to be nonpartisan – something that may not even be possible in this world – and Noel’s appointment seems far from nonpartisan.

It just so happens that Noel is the son-in-law of U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, the Democratic nominee for an open U.S. Senate seat from New Mexico, was formerly Richardson’s political director and has worked for his gubernatorial and presidential campaigns.

Not exactly a nonpartisan person.

Now, this does not mean he will not do a good job. It does raise questions and those are legitimate to ask.

Noel will begin his job Sept. 8, filling a position that has been vacant since March, when Albuquerque lawyer Daniel Ivey-Soto resigned.

Noel was an appointee of Richardson to elections task forces in 2004 and 2005, and helped get Richardson-backed elections changes through the Legislature.

Noel also was on the governor’s ethics reform task forces in 2006 and 2007.

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