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There are five state senators representing San Juan County. Hannah Grover, hgrover@daily-times.com

The governor will ultimately choose who to appoint to the vacant senate seat

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AZTEC — The San Juan County Commission has nominated Shannon Pinto to take her grandfather's seat on the state Senate representing District 3.

The County Commission had originally nominated former County Commissioner Wallace Charley, but Charley withdrew his name from consideration.

That led to the County Commission having a special meeting on July 15 to choose a new nominee.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham will ultimately choose who to appoint to fill the vacant position. District 3 includes portions of San Juan and McKinley counties. Both counties have chosen nominees to serve the remainder of Sen. John Pinto's term.

McKinley County has nominated Carol Bowman-Muskett.

MORE: County Commissions name nominees to fill New Mexico Senate vacancy

Sen. John Pinto, D-Gallup, held the position from 1977 until his death in May. Following the meeting in Aztec, Shannon Pinto said she hopes to continue what he started.

Whoever is appointed to the position will serve through one legislative session and will have to run for election in 2020. 

The commission voted 4-1 in favor of nominating Pinto. Commissioner Jim Crowley was the only commissioner who did not vote for Pinto. Crowley instead voted for Frank Freeland to be the county's nominee.

MORE: Navajo Nation Council supports Diné appointment to replace state Sen. John Pinto

While Commissioner GloJean Todacheene initially asked the County Commission to consider former state Rep. Ray Begaye, she chose not to vote for him because each commissioner could only vote for one candidate. Instead she voted for Pinto.

Commission Chairperson Jack Fortner said the county had received a lot of feedback encouraging commissioners to continue Sen. Pinto's legacy by nominating his granddaughter. 

Pinto was one of about a dozen people who submitted their names for consideration.

"We had a lot of people who were very qualified," he said.

He said Pinto is very qualified and will be a good senator if chosen by the governor. 

Pinto said she has been waiting and being patient throughout the nomination process.

"Some people told me that my grandpa's still working for you and to have faith," she said.

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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