Building Relationships and Standing for What you Believe In

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Mar 04, 2020 - 11:00am

Ernie C’de Baca is the President and CEO of the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce(AHCC). He is also a member of the MPP’s Community Advisory Board and was recently a guest speaker in the MPP Policy Seminar!

 Mr. C’de Baca graduated from UNM with a degree in Economics before beginning his career at PNM. He started as a buyer and worked his way up to a Local Government Affairs position. This position was his first experience in government and policy, and because of PNM’s standing at the time he started out on the defensive. As he informed the class, PNM was not popular in the 70’s and therefore, the people at the city council meetings did not like him very much. Based on that experience he advised the policy students, “In policy you need to have thick skin. You are dealing with huge egos and sometimes you need to take whatever it is and get the job done.”

 Mr. C’de Baca also provided the class with his perspective on lobbyists and lobbying, having worked as a lobbyist for PNM and now in his work for the AHCC. He explained that lobbying is all about relationships. In order to be a successful lobbyist you have to be trustworthy, you cannot lie to legislators or convince them to pass bills that turn out to be bad for them, because then they will not be willing to work with you again. Mr. C’de Baca explained that he is always honest with the legislators he works with and is sure to keep things on the up and up, all in order to build and maintain strong relationships. But Mr. C’de Baca did admit that “lobbying is like a chess game, there is strategy.” As a lobbyist you should already know the result of a committee vote before the vote takes place because you should have spoken to each and every one of the committee members, and if there are 4 yes’s and 3 no’s you better make sure all the yes votes are in the room when the committee meeting takes place.

In his work at the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Mr. C’de Baca continues to lobby. One of the AHCC’s main missions is to help small business owners succeed. The AHCC provides workshops and classes on all the issues small business owners might face, as well as networking opportunities and logistical support.  In their on-going championing of the small business community in New Mexico, the AHCC fought a bill that would have required small businesses to provide paid sick leave for their employees. The AHCC stood against this bill because adding costs and penalties to a small business could be very detrimental to that business. Mr. C’de Baca explained that most small businesses take care of their employees in a lot of other ways but could not afford the kind of sick leave pay that was being pushed on them, and in addition there would also be penalties for not following these new rules, and all of that could put them out of business. Mr. C’de Baca and the AHCC are very cautious of bills that add costs or penalties to small businesses because their goal is to see these small businesses survive and grow, and in turn see Albuquerque’s economy grow.