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ESPANOLA, N.M. (AP) — Outgoing New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has been selected as the next president at Northern New Mexico College.

He was the unanimous choice as the school’s board of regents voted Thursday. Balderas was among four finalists for the position following a monthslong national search.

The next step will be contract negotiations between the college and Balderas, who will finish his second term as the state’s top prosecutor at the end of the year. In a statement issued Friday, Balderas said it will be an honor to work with the regents, faculty and staff to take the institution into the future and build on student successes.

“I’m inspired that the community was involved in the selection process. They have hope for change,” Balderas said.

The finalists visited the campus earlier this fall and spent two days interviewing with students, faculty, staff, alumni and others during a series of community forums.

Board of Regents President Michael Martin said Balderas, who grew up in the rural community of Wagon Mound, identified strongly with the college community during his visit last month.

The other finalists included Patricia Trujillo, the deputy secretary of the state’s Higher Education Department; Bruno Hicks, vice president of academic affairs at Dalton State College in Georgia; and Southern Illinois University professor of applied psychology Yueh-Ting Lee.

Barbara Medina has led the college on an interim basis since the departure of Rick Bailey, who left in January to become president of Southern Oregon University.