There’s less than a week left before Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5, which marks the first consolidated election under the new state election code.

On the ballot are seats for Belen and Rio Communities city councils, Belen and Los Lunas boards of education, the University of New Mexico-Valencia Advisory Board and the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

In addition to the races, there are three tax questions — a bond issue for each of the school districts and a mill levy increase for VSWCD.

The races in the November 2019 election are local, nonpartisan contests. Four voting convenience centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Belen City Council

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

Incumbent Wayne Gallegos, 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.

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.

Rio Communities City Council

In the city of Rio Communities race, two incumbents and four newcomers have filed for the two available council seats.

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 re-elected in 2016.

Sais, 73, 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 U.S. 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.

Belen Schools

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

In District 1, Max Cordova, 70, a retired Belen Schools administrator, is running unopposed. He was first elected to the board in 2015.

The incumbent for District 2, Yvonne McCloud, is 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 unopposed 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 — Eloy G. Giron, 53, and Margaret Suzette Milarch, 68.

Giron works for Sandia National Labs and is a former Valencia County commissioner.

Milarch has a bachelor’s degree, and is a business woman and retired substitute teacher.

The only candidate running for the District 3 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 bachelor’s degree in political science.

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

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 master’s 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 Robert 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 bachelor’s and two master’s degrees from UNM.

Both positions 3 and 5 represent Los Lunas Schools.

Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors

The three seats on the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors drew four candidates, with only one position challenged.

The incumbent for Position 1, Abel Camarena, 69, is running unchallenged. 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.

For Position 2, incumbent board of supervisors member Andrew Hautzinger will be the only candidate on the ballot. He filed as a write-in candidate.

To vote for him as the write-in candidate, voters will need to write in Hautzinger’s name, which needs to be spelled well enough that election officials understand the voter’s intent.

A retired federal hydrologist, Hautzinger has a bachelor’s degree in watershed science from Colorado State University.

The VSWCD Position 5 race drew two candidates, neither of which were the incumbent.

Gail Goodman, 76, is a doctor of education, who retired from the teaching and research field.

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

Other ballot questions

Both local school districts are requesting bond funding on the November ballot, neither of which will increase local tax rates.

Belen Consolidated Schools is asking for a $10 million bond, and Los Lunas Schools for a $22 million bond, which will be used for various capital projects in the districts, such as new construction, building repairs and technology improvements.

The VSWCD will be asking voters for a 1 mill tax levy, which is $1 per $1,000 of net taxable value of property, an increase to the current quarter mill levy that has been in place since 2013.

The revenue from the mill levy will, among other things, will 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?

The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.