Stephen Arias, known as an aficionado of colorful neckties and a stickler for legislative rules, was one of the nation’s longest-serving House chief clerks when he retired from the New Mexico Legislature in 2014 after 32 years.
Arias died in August at 77.
House Speaker Brian Egolf (D) told the Albuquerque Journal that even in retirement, Arias would still drop by the Capitol occasionally to watch proceedings from the gallery.
“He really was an incredible mentor,” Egolf says. “He cared about the state and its people.”
During his time as chief clerk, Arias was an active member of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries and served three times on its Executive Committee, the group’s governing board. ASLCS recognized him with a Legislative Staff Achievement Award in 2012 for his service to the group and to the New Mexico House of Representatives. Arias was also a member of the 2000 Mason’s Manual Revision Commission, which updates the Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, the premier parliamentary authority for state legislatures.
Patrick O’Donnell, clerk of the Nebraska Legislature, remembers Arias as someone “who exemplified a love for his state and a passion for his work as chief clerk of the New Mexico House of Representatives, and as a mentor who taught many of us a respect for the legislative institution and a commitment to public service.”
In 2018, the New Mexico House of Representatives passed House Memorial 105, which honored Arias’ 40-plus years of service to the chamber and the Legislature. Arias is remembered by House members for his deep commitment to the legislative institution, his knowledge and enforcement of legislative procedures, practices and traditions and his willingness to mentor new members as they started their legislative careers.
Passions for Legislature, Mentoring
Arias put his passions for the legislative institution and mentoring into action when he helped to establish parliamentary relationships with clerks in Mexico and Central America, serving as a founding member of ANOMAC (La Asociación Nacional de Oficiales Mayores de los Congresos de los Estados y Distrito Federal or the National Association of Chief Clerks of Mexico’s State Legislatures and the Federal District of Mexico). Arias’ leadership laid the groundwork for a mutually beneficial relationship between ASLCS and ANOMAC that continues today.
Alaska Senate Secretary Liz Clark says that, “though his loss will be felt deeply by ASLCS and ANOMAC members, his contribution to both societies will be a long-lasting reminder that we all do better when we collaborate.
“Joining people together in both work and play and making them feel at home, como familia, was Steve’s superpower.”
Angela Andrews served as NCSL’s liaison to the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) from 2009-14 and currently delivers trainings to legislators and legislative staff.