A healthy field of candidates has emerged for the upcoming November elections, the first consolidated election under the new state election codes.

The races in the November 2019 election are local, nonpartisan contests. Election Day is slated for Tuesday, Nov. 5.
Belen City Council

In the city of Belen council race, three candidates filed for the two open seats.

Incumbent Wayne Gallegos, who is running for his fourth term, is facing challengers Robert C. Noblin Jr. and Danny Bernal Jr.

Bernal, 21, is a case assignments supervisory lead at ADC Ltd. NM.

Noblin, 42, is the owner/funeral director for Noblin Funeral Service in Belen and Los Lunas. He has a degree in funeral service and is the president of the New Mexico Funeral Service Association.

Neither Bernal or Noblin have held public office before.

Gallegos, 58, is a graduate of the University of New Mexico and the National Fire Academy, and retired from the city of Belen as fire chief.

Current City Councilor David Carter did not file to run for a third term.

Rio Communities City Council

Across the river in the city of Rio Communities, two incumbents have filed and four newcomers have filed for the two available council seats on the ballot.

Current Councilors Peggy Gutjahr and Arturo Sais are running, as well as Jerry Don Gage, John Keith Thompson, Jim Winters and Allen Zach.

Gage, 57, is retired from the military and is a sociology student at CNM.

Gutjahr, 78, is a retired registered nurse. She was appointed to the council in 2015 and reelected in 2016. Gutjahr is also a certified municipal official.

Sais, 73, who retired as director of the N.M. State Fire Academy in Socorro and was a member of the city’s planning and zoning commission, was elected to the council in 2016.

Thompson, 63, is retired from the Marine Corps and has master and bachelor degrees in finance and economics, and an associate degree in math and physics.

Winters, 71, has a bachelor of science in medical technology/chemistry and is a laboratory scientist specializing in coagulation (hemostasis) disorders. He is a member of the city’s planning zoning commission.

Zach, 83, is a retired hospital construction manager with three-plus years of college.

Gage, Thompson, Winters and Zach have not held public office in the past.

Belen Schools

The three seats on the Belen Board of Education drew four candidates, including three incumbents.

In District 1, Max Cordova, 70, is a retired Belen Schools administrator and was first elected to the board in 2015, when he ran unopposed.

The incumbent for District 2, Yvonne McCloud, will be challenged by Aubrey Tucker.

McCloud, 63, a retired bilingual elementary teacher with a bachelor of arts degree in bilingual elementary education and early childhood development, was appointed to the board in October 2017.

Tucker, 53, has a masters in educational administration and a bachelors in music education. He is a retired school administrator and has not held an elected position before.

Belen Board of Education District 3 incumbent Larry Lindberg is running for his third term. He is a retired chief inspector for the United States Marshal Service and a retired U.S. Army chaplain.

Lindberg has a masters degree in education and bachelor of science degree in education.

Los Lunas Schools

With all five seats on the Los Lunas Board of Education on the ballot, this race drew three incumbents and five new candidates.

In District 1, Frank Otero, who was elected to his first term on the board in 2015, is retired from the New Mexico Department of Health. Otero, 60, previously served on the board from 2007 to 2011 and has a degree in business management.

Two newcomers filed to run for the District 2 seat, with incumbent Sonya C’Moya, who was first appointed to the board in 2014, not declaring her candidacy.

Eloy G. Giron, 53, works for Sandia National Labs and is a former Valencia County commissioner.

Margaret Suzette Milarch, 68, has a bachelors degree and is a business woman and retired substitute teacher.

District 3 incumbent Milo Moody, who was appointed to the board in 2018, did not file.

The only candidate running for that seat is David Vickers, 63, owner of New Frontier Hobbies. Vickers served on the Los Lunas Board of Education from 1995 to 1999 and was a state representative for District 7 from 1999-2000. He has a bachelors degree in political science.

First elected to the District 4 seat in 2015, Bryan C. Smith, 57, works at Sandia National Labs.

The only two-year term on the board is the District 5 seat, which drew three candidates — incumbent Brandon Campanella, Carey J. “CJ” Salaz and Steven R. Otero.

Campanella, 38, was appointed to the board last year. He has a masters degree in education and is the youth and outreach pastor for First Baptist Church in Los Lunas.

Salaz, 35, is a senior regulatory project manager for PNM, and has a bachelor of business administration degree.

Otero, 61, is a retired Los Lunas Schools facility manager and has completed three years of classes at Western New Mexico University.

University of New Mexico-Valencia Advisory Board

The local college advisory board has three seats open this year and it looks like they will once again be filled by incumbents in the three unchallenged races.

Running for Position 2, which represents Belen Consolidated Schools, is Belinda Martinez, 67, a retired educator from Belen Schools.

Martinez was elected in 2003, and is a cum laude graduate of UNM-Valencia and a graduate of the UNM College of Education.

For Position 3, is Russell Griego, 59, a manager at Bank of the West in Los Lunas. Griego has been on the advisory board since 2011. He is also the past president of the UNM-Valencia Development Board.

Paul T. Luna, 66, a retired school administrator, is running for Position 5. He was elected to the board in 1999.

Luna earned a bachelors and two masters degrees from UNM.

Both positions 3 and 5 represent Los Lunas Schools.

Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District

The three seats on the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District drew three candidates but for only two of the positions.

No one filed for the Position 2 seat, currently held by Andrew Hautzinger.

Candidates can still run for that position by filing as a write-in candidate next week between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 3, at the county clerk’s office, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas.

The incumbent for Position 1, Abel Camarena, 69, will run unchallenged, as he did in 2015. He was appointed to the board in 2008 as a representative for the Pueblo of Isleta.

Camerena has a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management and is retired from the USDA Forest Service.

The Position 5 race drew two candidates but not the incumbent. Gail Goodman and Juanita Herrera will be vying for the seat; Jeff Goebel did not file to run again.

Goodman, 76, is a doctor of education, who retired from the teaching and research field. This will be her first run for an elected position, but Goodman was appointed to and served on the Valencia County Animal Control Advisory Board.

Herrera, 60, is the owner of Glowing Tree Art.

Other ballot questions

Both local school districts are requesting bond funding on the November ballot.

Belen Consolidated Schools is asking for a $10 million bond, and Los Lunas Schools for a $22 million.

Both can be used for new buildings, computer hardware and software, matching funds for capital outlay projects and other expenses.

The VSWCD will be asking voters for a 1 mill tax levy, which is $1 per $1,000 of net taxable value of property.

The revenue from the mill levy will, among other things, fund financial and technical programs for local farms and community gardens, implement habitat restoration at the Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area and reduce wildfire threats.

What’s your Reaction?

Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.