Ryan Lane, a newly-elected state representative, says economic development is needed

Hannah Grover
Farmington Daily Times
Bloomfield City Attorney Ryan Lane answers questions regarding the city's electric utility system on Monday, April 9, 2018 at Bloomfield City Hall.

AZTEC — A young attorney and businessman will be joining the San Juan County legislative delegation after running unopposed to represent the northeast portion of the county in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Ryan Lane, 38, was raised in Aztec, where he currently owns a law clinic in downtown and his family also owns the popular ice cream shop called the Vanilla Moose. 

Lane, a Republican, has a background in business law and estate planning, but also serves as the city attorney for Bloomfield. He previously served on the board of education for Aztec Municipal School District, which he vacated earlier this year. Current Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, took Lane’s place on the school board and now Lane is taking Bandy’s seat in the House of Representatives.

The district includes most of Aztec and Bloomfield as well as other areas in the northeast part of the county including Navajo Dam and Cedar Hill.

His first year in office won’t be easy.

"We have some real budget issues facing our state...and so tackling the budget will be a priority," Lane said.

New Mexico is facing a budget shortfall amid the pandemic and a crash in oil prices earlier in the year.

While the Legislature must pass a thin budget, Lane said it also needs to focus on increasing economic development.

For San Juan County, Lane sees outdoor recreation as a promising initiative to pursue to develop the economy.

"I'm a big believer in outdoor recreation. I think we have a unique area," he said, highlighting the four seasons and the variety of recreational opportunities. 

Outdoor recreation is one of the largest economic sectors in the United States and Lane said the area should continue to develop its outdoor recreation assets.

In terms of Aztec and Bloomfield, Lane said one of the biggest challenges is creating a mindset that encourages business opportunities. He highlighted efforts in both cities to become more business friendly, including the North Main Avenue extension project and the East Aztec Arterial Route.

At center, Bloomfield City Attorney Ryan Lane and then-Bloomfield City Manager Eric Strahl, right, listen to arguments, Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at Aztec District Court.

But housing could also be a challenge in the future, Lane said. He anticipates Durango, Colorado, will continue to expand, creating pressures for affordable housing in New Mexico.

Lane is looking at sponsoring bills that could receive bipartisan support and tackle issues like child trafficking and criminal justice reform. He would like to make it easier for people who have been convicted of a crime to reintegrate into society after serving their sentence, including making it easier for them to find employment.

He will join incumbents Rep. James Strickler, R-Farmington, and Rep. Rod Montoya, R-Farmington, in the House of Representatives. Strickler and Montoya also ran unopposed.

Meanwhile, Rep. Anthony Allison, D-Fruitland, faced former Kirtland mayor and county treasurer Mark Duncan, a Republican. Results were not available by print deadline.

On the Senate side, Sen. William Sharer and Sen. Steve Neville, both Republicans who live in Farmington, ran unopposed.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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