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Panel appoints replacement to fill New Mexico House vacancy

ALBUQUERQUE – An environmental activist has been sworn in to fill a New Mexico House vacancy created by now-former Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton’s resignation amid a corruption investigation.

The Bernolillo County Commission on Tuesday appointed Albuquerque Democrat Kay Bounkeua to fill the District 19 seat.

Bounkeua was among 10 applicants considered by the commission and is currently the New Mexico deputy state director for the Wilderness Society. She also recently served as the executive director of the New Mexico Asian Family Center.

Local media outlets reported that Bounkeua was believed to be the first Asian American woman to serve in the New Mexico Legislature, and the 36-year-old daughter of immigrants from Laos said in a statement said she was honored “not only to break through the glass ceiling, but the bamboo ceiling attached to it.”

Stapleton resigned last month amid criminal investigations into her ties to a private contractor for the Albuquerque school district where she also works.

Stapleton has denied allegations of possible corruption.