Hector Balderas represents a new generation of leaders, who are driving the country forward through innovation, a fresh perspective on governing, and an unyielding dedication to public service. In November 2006, at the age of 33, Balderas was elected New Mexico State Auditor. This was a milestone election, not only for the state of New Mexico, but for the nation, as Balderas became the youngest Hispanic statewide elected official in the country.
Stepping in to his new role as New Mexico’s State Auditor, Balderas inherited an office with regulatory oversight of over $60 billion dollars in governmental assets, and 603 government entities. Despite having a limited budget and a small staff, he set out with an aggressive agenda focused on restoring accountability, and cracking down on fraud and abuse across the state. He received overwhelming bipartisan support during his first term, and was re-elected State Auditor in 2010.
Balderas has now spent over six years in office doing just as he intended: tirelessly combating fraud, waste, and abuse throughout New Mexico. In order to do this as effectively as possible, he created a Special Investigations Division, instituted a statewide fraud hotline, and expanded the training and outreach operations of the office. To date, Balderas’ audits have uncovered a $3.3 million embezzlement scheme in the Jemez Mountain Public School District, exposed overbilling by state contractors with the New Mexico Department of Corrections, identified questionable vehicle and travel charges at the Public Regulation Commission, initiated the first state takeover of a municipality at the City of Sunland Park, and revealed a fraudulent audit report released by the New Mexico Finance Authority. Balderas has also led state law reform efforts to impose penalties on governments that fail to submit annual audits, and to bring financial relief to rural governments struggling to pay high audit costs.
In 2007, Balderas was named one of the 100 Most Influential Hispanics by Hispanic Business Magazine, and was elected Treasurer of the NALEO Educational Fund Board in 2009. In 2010, he received the New Frontier Award from the Harvard Institute of Politics and the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. This prestigious award is given to an exceptional American elected official under the age of 40, whose contributions in elective office demonstrate the impact and value of public service in the spirit of John F. Kennedy.
Balderas was brought up by a single mother in the small village of Wagon Mound, New Mexico, where he learned at an early age the importance of accountability, and respect for others. Growing up in public housing, and relying on food stamps, he also gained the conviction that every person, no matter his or her background, deserves the same opportunities to succeed. He earned his a bachelor’s degree from New Mexico Highlands University and a law degree from UNM Law School. After working his way through law school, Balderas decided against pursuing a career in the private sector, and instead chose to follow his passion for public service. He accepted a job as an assistant district attorney, and quickly earned a reputation as a fierce advocate for protecting and balancing the many diverse interests within the justice system. In December 2003, Balderas moved back to Wagon Mound with his wife and three young children, in order to give back to his rural community.
At the age of 29, and with no prior political experience, he won a seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives. During his single term as a State Representative, he brought Democrats and Republicans together to pass sweeping legislation to strengthen penalties for sexual predators; establish incentives for clean energy; invest in rural public schools; pass reforms to the criminal justice system; crack down on drunk drivers; and protect consumers from price gouging during times of emergency and disaster. In recognition of his legislative accomplishments, Balderas was named Rookie-Leader-of-the-Year by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, Outstanding Rookie by the League of Conservation Voters, and was recognized by the New Mexico State Bar Association as Outstanding Young Lawyer of New Mexico.
In addition to being licensed to practice law in the State of New Mexico, in February 2013, Balderas became a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), a title held by individuals extensively trained in fraud prevention, detection, and deterrence.
Never forgetting his roots, Balderas remains committed to giving back to his community, and volunteers his time working with at-risk children in the special needs community. Today, Balderas lives in Albuquerque with his wife Denise, and their three children, Hector Reyes Jr., Mariola, and Arianna.