Cisco McSorley was born in 1950 on Sandia Army Base adjacent to Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is the third of four boys. His father was a twenty-year Army career veteran of World War II and because of his education as a chemist he was assigned to the Special Weapons Unit at Sandia Base. After he retired he taught school at Del Norte Public High School in Albuquerque. Senator McSorley’s mother graduated from Fordham University with a master’s in Social Work but started her married life as a stay at home mom. After all of the boys were in school she went to work as the founder and head of the Social Work Department at St. Joseph’s hospital in Albuquerque.
Mr. McSorley attended parochial school in Albuquerque, starting at Holy Ghost Elementary School and ending at St. Pius High School.
After high school he attended six different universities on various scholarships. These schools included Harvard University, Hamline University, Grambling College, the University of New Mexico, and Centro Andino. Grambling College is a legacy of the “separate but equal” schools of the south. Senator McSorley learned first hand that these schools were certainly separate but nowhere near equal. The vestiges of legal segregation were clearly at work in Louisiana in the 1960’s.
After graduating from the University of New Mexico with a Bachelor’s in English Senator McSorley traveled for three years in South America. He spent months traveling through Central America and settled in Ecuador. For the most part he studied and taught school and spent his free time traveling to the remote areas of the Andes and the jungles. He was fortunate enough to walk the Inca Trail in Peru and visit the sites of Machu Picchu and other Inca ruins surrounding Cusco, Peru. During these three years he was also able to visit the Galapagos Islands for an extended amount of time and was able to witness first hand the unique flora, fauna and animals that inhabit the islands.
Upon returning to the United States, Senator McSorley entered Law School at the University of New Mexico School of Law. Thereafter he became a member of the New Mexico Bar Association. For over thirty years Senator McSorley practiced law in New Mexico and has served on numerous New Mexico Bar Association boards and committee’s.
Cisco McSorley was first elected to the New Mexico House of Representatives in 1984. While in the house he was appointed to various committees including Judiciary, Agriculture, Energy and Natural Recourses, and numerous interim committees. During the majority of that time he was vice chair of Judiciary and served as chairman of Judiciary in his last term in the House.
In 1996 Mr. McSorley was elected to the New Mexico Senate where he serves today. He has served on the Judiciary committee as both vice chair and chair and has served as vice chair of the Cultural and Indian Affairs Committee.
In his time in the New Mexico Legislature he has championed public education, including higher education, public health issues, reform of the criminal justice system from incarcerating the mentally ill to treatment, ending the war on drugs, the environment, civil liberties and civil rights. Since 1984 Senator McSorley has either been the major sponsor or co sponsor of all of the major pieces of legislation involving these areas. He is the major sponsor of the Hard Rock Mining Bill of New Mexico and the Subdivision Act. He also passed the hate crimes bill, and the anti discrimination bill that included Gays, and Transsexuals. He is most proud of his work improving the funding formula for the University of New Mexico and securing funding for programs in the Latin American program. Also he has been an important contributor to the Microchip Manufacturing Program at the University of New Mexico and has been a major contributor to virtually all of the major building at the University projects since 1984.
Early in his career he passed the first law of any state Legislature in the country that provided aid to those who had contracted the HIV Virus.
Service to Nob Hill Community
One of Senator McSorley’s favorite accomplishments was the renovation and revitalization of the Nob Hill neighborhood. When he was first elected the Albuquerque Public School Board was considering closing schools in the district and the city was contemplating tearing down the Nob Hill Shopping Center that is the heart of the neighborhood business area. The area was riddled by crime and empty dilapidated buildings. By gathering funds from numerous sources and recruiting investors the community went from a neglected area to one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city. This urban renovation has brought a surge in population, increasing the number of students in all of the public schools and making these schools some of the best in the city, and a dramatic increase in value to area homes.
During his tenure in the legislature Senator McSorley has received a wide variety of awards for his work. They include the New Mexico Bar Association recognition for his work for the Civil Legal Services Commission of the New Mexico Commission on Access to Justice, of the State Bar of New Mexico; The University of New Mexico Alumni Association Higher Education Distinguished Legislator Award; The Milagro Award as an extraordinary leader who “gives the less fortunate a strong voice through effective legislation”; the Protector of New Mexico award by the New Mexico Environmental Law Center; and the New Mexico Anti-Defamation League Distinguished Public Service Award.