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The job of PRC commissioner is too important and too complex for politics as usual, patronage, inexperience or on-the-job training, said Democratic candidate Bruce Throne during a recent visit to the Monitor.
The Santa Fe attorney and former assistant attorney general said, "The Public Regulation Commission's decisions affect every resident, business, school, government institution and other member of the public in New Mexico every single day. Good intentions are not enough
for this job. The devil is in the details. Thats what Ive spent most of my legal career learning.
Throne, 57, is a 32-year Santa Fe resident who has spent 28 of his 32-year legal career trying cases before the PRC and its predecessor agencies. He is seeking the District 3 seat of PRC Ben Ray Lujan who is running for congress.
He is not interested in regulating but rather using regulations to ensure corporations do the right thing, he said, adding that he wants to see the PRC become more of an independent body of highly qualified people. Currently, some of the commissioners are qualified and some are not, he said, adding that Lujan chairs the commission and doesn't even hold an undergraduate degree.
Commissioners must understand law, regulatory engineering, regulatory accounting and economics, Throne said. "These commissioners take office and try to learn on the job," he said. "They don't know the regulations and have to rely on lawyers and go with the lawyers opinions. I don't need to have someone read briefs for me, I know the law, I've been reading briefs for 28 years. This shouldn't be a political office, it should be a competence office."
While assistant attorney general, Throne advocated for consumer interests in more than 30 cases before the Commission, including PNM electric and gas rate cases and cases addressing Qwests infrastructure investment commitments to New Mexico, he said.
Throne's experience also includes serving as director of the Energy and Utilities Unit of the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division under former New Mexico Attorney General Jeff Bingaman.
Throne discussed the importance of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories. He described them as great resources that should be tapped for the state's energy efficiency programs.
The PRC board consists of five commissioners elected to staggered four year terms. They earn an annual salary of $90,000. Throne will take a substantial cut in pay to take the job, he said. "I've been very fortunate and I just feel this is my time to give back."
Throne intends to run a publicly financed campaign under the New Mexico Voter Action Act, he said, adding that he will not seek or accept private campaign contributions other than the $5,000 seed money allowed by the Act to qualify for public financing and get his name on the June 3 primary ballot. He will raise the $5,000 through small donations from individuals, he said.
Once I get on the Democratic primary ballot, I intend to visit with as many District 3 voters as I can to explain exactly what the PRC does, how the PRC affects them and their businesses, listen to their concerns, and explain why I believe I am the most qualified District 3 candidate to best protect their interests, he said.
Throne received the New Mexico Internet Professionals Associations 2004 Industry Award for Outstanding Advocacy for New Mexico Internet Businesses before the PRC and served as an appointee by former Gov. Toney Anaya to the New Mexico Oil and Gas Task Force.
He earned his undergraduate degree with honors from Wesleyan University in 1972 and his law degree, also with honors, from George Washington University in 1975. He has been a member of the New Mexico and Massachusetts Bars since 1976.
Throne's daughter, Ariana, 18, is a freshman at Tufts University. His son, Greg, 16, is a sophomore at Santa Fe Prep.
Throne was accompanied on his visit to the Monitor by campaign manager, Suzanne Cummings, of Los Alamos. Her mother, Priscilla Roberts, is Throne's fiance and clinical director of the Youth and Family Shelters in Santa Fe.
Other candidates seeking the Democratic nomination include Espaola Mayor Joseph Maestas, Santa Fe County Commissioner Paul Campos, former Ojo Caliente state senator Arthur Rodarte and Jerome Block Jr., son of former PRC member Jerome Block.
For information about Throne, access www.BruceThrone.com.
PRC District 3
New Mexico Public Regulation Commission District 3 encompasses Los Alamos County, the city of Santa Fe and most of Santa Fe County, all of Taos, Colfax, Union, Mora, Harding and San Miguel counties and portions of Rio Arriba and Guadalupe counties.
For information, access www.nmprc.state.nm.us.