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Senator left impression on those who worked with him

Chris Ramirez
September 13, 2017 06:15 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- Throughout his public career, many New Mexicans had the opportunity to work with Sen. Pete Domenici as members of his staff. Those staffers didn't just see the senator as their boss. They saw him as a trusted friend, adviser and mentor.

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Sara Lister first interned for Domenici in 1997 at his D.C office. It was her dream job growing up. She knew it at age 12 when she met the senator at an Albuquerque Dukes baseball game.

"He was there, and I knew who he was and I wanted to meet him," she said. "So I went up and asked him for his autograph. He gave me his autograph and I asked if I could work for him one day. And he told me to call him when I was old enough. So I did when I was in college and kept his promise and gave me a job."

Sara worked in Domenici's office until his retirement in 2008.

"I actually carry the piece of paper that he signed for me that day because once I started working for him and learning more about him, I realized what a special man he was and how good he was to New Mexico and how good he was to the people who worked for him," she said. "This autograph has been my reminder all of these years of how much he gave and how much I should give for the people around me and the people I care about."

At 19 years old, Marco Gonzales started as an intern and became one of the senator's policy analysts on defense and the federal budget. But it wasn't just politics that Gonzales learned. He learned ethics and the true meaning of public service.

It became clear to him on the eve of his last election.

"I went to the table of where he was sitting alone and he looked very pensive. I asked him, 'What's the matter, Senator? What's going on?' He told he was thinking if he had done everything possible to help the people," Gonzales said. "To me, it was like just shocking because here is this man on the eve of winning his sixth election and he told me he has dreams every night thinking about 'if I've done everything right for the people?  Is there anything I can do more?'"

For as much power and prestige Domenici had, Lister and Gonzales describe him simply as a man who cared.

"I think New Mexico, regardless of party lines, I think anyone you ask would tell you New Mexico is a much better place because of the 36 years of service that Senator Domenici gave to our state and the U.S. Senate," Lister said.

"His focus was on the people of New Mexico and how he could do better for them," Gonzales said.

Credits

Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2017 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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