When Republican Susana Martinez was elected governor in November, her transition team informed all state political appointees—otherwise known as exempt workers—that they had to resign by Gov. Richardson's last day in office. New Mexico Music Commission Director Nancy Laflin was among those who lost their jobs. The agency—which was established by Gov. Richardson in 2005 and approved by unanimous votes in the house and senate in 2009—now has no paid staff.
Picking up the slack in the wake of Laflin's departure is Claude Stephenson, who, aside from being state folklorist, is one of 15 music commissioners and serves as vice chairman. Commissioners are appointed by the governor and work as unpaid volunteers (one of them happens to be country music star Randy Travis). The Music Commission was created to promote economic development, provide education and act as an information source for those involved in the music industry.
"We're pretty low rent to the state except for our executive director, who we don't have any more," says Stephenson. In the midst of Gov. Martinez' rearrangement of New Mexico, the NMMC too appears to be the chopping block. "We're still open for business until we're told different."
Gov. Martinez' office, however, hasn't given a clear indication of what they have planned for the music commission. "Currently, we are in a period of review and analysis with regard to the organization of state government, and this includes boards and commissions,” Spokesman Scott Darnell told the Alibi. “We'll be making decisions about their future and their membership on a case-by-case basis at the appropriate time."
In the meantime, Stephenson hopes the New Mexico Music Commission can continue its work.
"In a nutshell, I'm hoping that they will see the benefit of the place and give us a new executive director, and we'll continue to do good things for the music community of New Mexico."
You can visit the NMMC’s website at newmexicomusic.org and contact the commission at (505) 476-0518.