With his term set to expire when the next legislative session begins Jan. 15, the Chaves County Federated Republican Women honored state Rep. Bob Wooley at their monthly meeting Wednesday.
Wooley represented House District 66 in the New Mexico House of Representatives, which includes portions of Chaves, Lea and Roosevelt Counties.
He was appointed in 2011 by Gov. Susana Martinez to fill a vacancy created when Keith Gardner resigned from the seat to become Martinez’s chief of staff.
Colleagues and friends at the meeting spoke highly of Wooley, who opted this year not to run for re-election.
Phelps Anderson, also a Republican from Roswell, who was elected in November to represent House District 66, lauded Wooley for his service in the Army and also in the state House of Representatives.
“I just want to say Bob, you have done a great duty to our community,” Anderson said.
He added that Wooley has continued to be active in the waning weeks of his term, either attending committee meetings just about every week, or introducing Anderson to people within the district.
Fellow State Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, who was at the dinner, also had kind words for Wooley. Herrell and Wooley both began their tenures in the New Mexico House in 2011.
“He has just been great, and you have been blessed,” she said to the crowd.
She remembered how Wooley would say “play ball” after the Pledge of Allegiance was recited on the House floor.
Herrell and Wooley together co-chaired the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee.
She joked that she would let him chair meetings of a committee whenever “a really horrible bill” was being considered.
Herrell recalled one committee meeting in particular that lasted seven and a half hours about a bill that would have banned late-term abortions in New Mexico.
Wooley was someone who commanded the respect of his colleagues and was not afraid to step up and speak out when he felt something was wrong.
“When bills weren’t right, when votes went bad, Bob was one of the first to absolutely call that person out and just express his concern for the way things were going,” Herrell said.
She also read aloud a proclamation by the New Mexico Legislature that honored Wooley for his “outstanding career in public service and the United States Army and in representing the people in House District 66.”
The proclamation specifically pointed out his work on the Military and Veteran Affairs Interim Committee, where he was a key force in the passage of legislation to help veterans who experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, also known as PTSD, and help veteran-owned businesses.
Some colleagues who could not be at the meeting passed along their praise in letters read aloud to the crowd.
“The contributions you have made not only to veterans but to the communities you serve will continue to have an impact on lives for many many years,” Anderson said in a letter he read aloud from state Sen. Gay Kernan, R-Hobbs.
State Rep. Greg Nibert, R-Roswell, in a letter also read by Anderson, thanked Wooley for showing him how things work in the House.
Wooley also spoke about his service, and said it was an honor to serve in the House. He said that during his eight years in office, he either sponsored or co-sponsored 70 bills, 14 of which were signed into law.
He said that he was appointed by Martinez six days before the start of the 2011 Legislative session.
New members of the legislature typically get a week of training to learn about how the Legislature works, something Wooley did not receive.
Days after the session began, Wooley said he began to feel overwhelmed.
“I said to my wife, ‘No, we are going home.’ I was so scared. I had no idea what was going on,” he said.
House leadership though soon convinced to him to stay, and worked with him until he could get a grasp of how things worked. He added that he is grateful that they did so.
Wooley said he always tried to vote the way the people of his district wanted, and when he didn’t he would hear about it.
“And then the butt-chewings come,” he said.
He said sometimes a bill would be introduced that was good, but after it would go through committee and the Senate it would sometimes be changed and he would then vote against that bill.
Wooley said that is something people who are not in the Legislature might not understand about the process.