Paula Tackett, director of the New Mexico Legislative Council Service for 22 years and a long-time friend of NCSL, recently announced her retirement, effective in June of this year. From the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Tackett, a native of Albuquerque who has lived in Santa Fe for more than 30 years, is the daughter of former state Supreme Court Justice Paul Tackett. Like her dad, she chose the profession of law. She graduated from The University of New Mexico School of Law in 1977 -- in the same class with Tom Udall, now a U.S. senator.
She clerked for state Court of Appeals Judge Romaine Lopez and Supreme Court Justice Edwin Felter before going into private practice with White, Koch, Kelly & McCarthy.
One of her favorite duties with the firm was lobbying the Legislature. Tackett's clients included Northern New Mexico Community College.
"I discovered that the Legislature was the time of the year I loved the most," Tackett said. So in 1982 when she was offered a job of staff attorney with the Legislative Council Service, she couldn't turn it down. In the mid-80s, Tackett was promoted to assistant director of the LSC, working under longtime director Clay Buchanan. When Buchanan died in 1988, Tackett was hired to replace him.
"I love the legislative process," she said. "I'm not an adversarial person. I love the Legislature because it's about compromise."
Tackett soon learned the LCS had responsibilities that went beyond legal research and the drafting of bills.
"During the renovation, I learned that I like building things," she said, referring to the period in the 1980s when the Roundhouse underwent a major face-lift.
The agency is even involved with the arts. Tackett helped set up a foundation so artists and collectors could donate paintings and sculptures that enliven the walls and halls of the Roundhouse.
Paula was actively involved with NCSL throughout her career, serving on the Executive Committee, 1996-99, and chairing various committees and task forces.
She has come to be known as the institutional memory of the legislature and has spent countless hours mentoring attorneys as well as educating law students and the public to enhance open access and knowledge of the legislative process.
That's a fitting tribute to one of the finest legislative institutionalists in the country. Take care in retirement, Paula.
Raul Burciaga, previously a deputy under Paula, has been named to succeed her as director.