Rep. Brittney Barreras, D-Albuquerque
SANTA FE — Democratic Rep. Brittney Barreras of Albuquerque resigned from the state House on Friday, creating a vacancy just 10 days into the legislative session.
She won election in 2020 as an independent from the South Valley, defeating Democrat Art De La Cruz, who ran as a write-in candidate.
In a written statement, Barreras said she was leaving to focus on her mental health.
“The huge amount of pressure in such a big job has become increasingly difficult for me,” Barreras said. “All of the pressure and stress has taken a toll on my mental health.”
Barreras served this year as vice chair of the House Health and Human Services Committee.
She also was as a member of the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee — the panel that rejected a proposal by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this week to establish incentives for hydrogen energy in New Mexico.
Barreras was excused and didn’t participate in the vote.
She said Friday that she was honored to serve in the Legislature and would make arrangements to ensure her work is carried forward until a replacement is named.
“Two years into a pandemic,” she said, “I know that many of us are experiencing stress, anxiety, and negativity. I want you to know that I feel you, I see you, I hear you, and we’re in this together. I know that I need to take care of myself right now in order to be a good mom, daughter, co-parent, and community member.”
The Bernalillo County Commission will appoint a successor.
In 2020, the commission appointed De La Cruz to fill the seat. The appointment came late in the year, and he ran as a write-in candidate but lost to Barreras.
She campaigned as a progressive-minded independent and later switched her affiliation to join the Democratic caucus in the House.
With her departure, Democrats now hold a 44-24 edge over Republicans in the House, with one conservative-leaning independent.
In 2021, Barreras was a co-sponsor of legislation that sought to prohibit criminal defendants in New Mexico from asserting the discovery of a person’s gender or sexual orientation caused them to harm the victim, what’s sometimes known as the gay or trans panic defense.
She also was a sponsor of bills on human rights, sex crimes by police officers and early childhood education.