(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include all professional experience and the education of candidates provided to the News-Bulletin by the candidates when they filed on Tuesday, Aug. 24, as well as corrections to that information provided after publication. Corrections/clarifications will be published in next week’s paper.)

The eight local boards with November elections this year drew more than three dozen candidates on filing day, Tuesday, Aug. 24. Many incumbents are taking another run at their seats but there are also a good number of new names in the mix.

Agencies with elections this fall are the city of Belen, village of Los Lunas, town of Peralta, city of Rio Communities, Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education, Los Lunas Schools Board of Education, The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus advisory board and Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors.


City of Belen Mayor

The race for Belen mayor drew three candidates — Danny Bernal Jr., Lorenzo Carrillo and Robert C. Noblin Jr.

Bernal Jr., 23, is the supervisor of assignments at ADC Ltd. NM. Bernal is a Belen High School graduate and attended The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus from 2016 to 2018. He has completed 20 credit hours towards a liberal arts degree with a focus in history. Bernal has been on the city council since 2019.

Carrillo, 63, served on the Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education and was appointed to Belen city council. Carrillo has a bachelors in business administration and human resources. He retired from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Noblin Jr., 44, is the owner of Noblin Funeral Service in Belen and Los Lunas, Terrace Grove Cemetery in Belen and Director’s Choice Mortuary Services, Albuquerque. He has a degree in mortuary science. Noblin has been on the city council since 2019.


City of Belen Council

Five candidates are vying for the two open seats on the Belen council.

Steven Lee Holdman, 65, is an administrative pastor for Calvary Chapter Rio Grande Valley and the former executive vice president of operations for NICOR Inc.. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in organizational management from Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn. and a masters of business administration from Eastern New Mexico University.

Marcella T. Melendez, 79, has an Associate of Arts degree and is a retired newspaper reporter.

Mike Moreno, 63, is a community organizer. He is a Belen High School graduate and attended some college.

Megan R. Malcom-Morgan, 31, is a former educator and the soon-to-be executive director of Through the Flower. She holds a bachelor and a masters degree in English.

Incumbent Frank Ortega, 70, is running for reelection. He was a city councilor from 1992 to 1996 and from 2014 to present.

Ortega has a high school diploma, an N.M.S.B total quality management certification, emergency management institute basic skills creative financing and attended New Mexico Municipal League training in multiple years. He retired from Belen Consolidated after 45 years.


Belen municipal judge

Three candidates filed to run for the Belen municipal judgeship.

Keith D. Norwood, 61, has a Bachelor of Science from New Mexico State University. He retired from the state Department of Corrections after 25 years and has spent 28 years total in law enforcement.

Manny Garcia, 40, holds a degree from The University of New Mexico, and certifications from the New Mexico Fire Academy and National Fire Academy. He retired as the city of Belen fire chief in 2018 and works as a bus driver for Belen Consolidated Schools.

Yvette Padilla, 52, is retired from the city of Belen municipal court and works for AC Disposal Services.

City of Rio Communities Mayor

Joshua Ramsell, 32, was the only candidate to file for the mayor’s seat in Rio Communities. He has served on the city council since 2018. Ramsell has a bachelor of arts in business administration from The University of New Mexico and is the optical manager at Walmart in Belen.


City of Rio Communities Council

Six candidates filed to fill the two open council seats in the city of Rio Communities.

Arthur L. Apodaca, 68, is retired from General Mills, Inc./foodservice division senior national account sales and marketing manager of 20 years, and the owner/broker of Cornerstone Sales and Marketing, LLC/foodservice sales for eight years. He attended the college of Santa Fe and has a Bachelor of Arts in business administration and management. Apadaca served six years in the U.S. Naval reserve.

Lawrence R. Gordon Jr., 57, is a retired police officer with the city of Bayonne, N.J. and graduated from Bayonne High School.

Leyda Martinez Hahn, 55, is a branch manager for First American Title and has a high school diploma.

Richard Henderson, 61, is a captain with the New Mexico Department of Corrections and the manager of public safety for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. He has attended some college courses.

John K. Thompson, 65, is a retired stockbroker and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Thompson has a masters and bachelors of business administration in economics, as well as associates degrees in math and physics.

Ronnie White, 30, works at the Walmart distribution center and has a high school diploma.


Rio Communities municipal judge

Holly Noelle Chavez, 32, was appointed as the Rio Communities municipal judge in May 2020. She has a masters in the science of psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice. Chavez is the co-owner of H2 Academic Solutions in Belen.


Village of Los Lunas Council

There are three council seats on the November ballot in the village of Los Lunas, which drew a field of five candidates.

District 1

Christopher Ortiz, 42, an insurance specialist, was elected to the council for the first time in 2016.

District 3

Cruz Munoz, 74, was appointed to the council in February 2019 after Gerard Saiz was elected to the Valencia County commission. He has a bachelors of business management from University of Phoenix and is retired from the finance/marketing/sales field.

District 4

Helen A. Jaramillo, 59, is retired from the state of New Mexico’s Los Lunas Public Health Office. She attended The University of New Mexico- Valencia campus and College of Santa Fe.

Phillip Jaramillo, 65, is the incumbent for District 4, having been appointed to the seat in May 2018. He has a bachelor of arts and is the retired village of Los Lunas administrator.

James T. Runyon, 53, is a pastor with a doctorate of ministry.


Town of Peralta Mayor

The mayoral race for Peralta sees incumbent Bryan Olguin facing two candidates, Margarita Castillo and Christine M. Murphy.

Castillo, 63, a business owner, has a Bachelors of Science in information technology from the University of Phoenix and is six credit hours from completing a masters in computer science at New Mexico Tech.

Murphy, 62, works as a dental hygienist, and has a Bachelors of Science in dental hygiene.

Olguin, 59, is running for his fourth term as mayor. He is an electrical/mechanical service technician, and has an associates in electronics communication.


Town of Peralta Council

The two incumbent councilors will run for second terms with no opposition.

Claudio Moya, 67, has been a councilor since 2016 and is a high school graduate.

Randy Smith, 62, has also been a councilor since 2016. Smith, an electrical contractor, has also served on the town’s planning and zoning commission. He has a high school diploma.


Peralta municipal judge

Tracy Aragon, 58, has served as Peralta’s judge since 2016. He works as a director of nuclear medicine, and has degrees from New Mexico State University, The University of New Mexico and Penrose School of Nuclear Medicine. Aragon is a Los Lunas High School graduate.


Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education

Two seats are up on the Belen Consolidated Schools Board of Education and only the incumbents filed to run.

District 4

In District 4, Jim Danner, 76, has held the seat since 2014. He holds a bachelor and masters degrees from the University of New Mexico. He is a retired high school principal.

District 5

Larry Garley, 71, a retired school teacher, was appointed to the District 5 seat in June, after Lisa Chavez stepped down. Garley served on the board previously from 2014-2017, when he lost the seat to Chavez. He has a masters degree.


Los Lunas Schools Board of Education

While the entire Los Lunas Schools Board of Education was suspended in May by former New Mexico Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart, the seats for Districts 3 and 5 were on the November ballot regardless.

District 3

Paul H. Herrera, 43, has a high school diploma and is a senior advocate.

Jessie Lewis, 45, is a landscape designer and planner with a bachelors in planning. Lewis was appointed to the seat after the board was suspended.

Charles Rhodes, is a school bus driver for Los Lunas Schools transportation department and has an associates in respiratory therapy.

David Vickers, 65, a business owner, is a member of the board of education that was suspended. Vickers served on the board from 1995-99, and was elected to the seat again in 2019. He also served as a New Mexico state representative from 1999-2000 and the New Mexico State School Board from 2001-2002. Vickers has a Bachelor of Arts in political science.

Stewart said the suspension would not prevent Vickers or District 5 incumbent Steven Otero from running for reelection.

District 5

Bruce E. Bennett, 65, retired from the Los Lunas Schools maintenance department. Bennett has an associates degree. He was appointed to the position after the board was suspended.

Brandon Campanella, 40, previously held the District 5 seat from 2018 to 2019. Campanella has a masters in education, and is a youth pastor and owner of Bosque Coffee.

Steven R. Otero, 63, is running for a second term. He is self-employed as a project manager.


UNM-Valencia Advisory Board

The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus advisory board has two positions open this fall, which drew three candidates.

Position 1

Position 1 incumbent Eloisa Tabet, 83, will run for the position she’s held since 2010. Tabet graduated from high school and business school, and is a retired assistant cashier for Wells Fargo Bank.


The at-large position is currently held by Roberta Scott, the retired director of the Small Business Development Center at UNM-Valencia. She holds a masters of business administration from New Mexico State University. Scott has held the seat since 2015

Joleen M. Chavez, 42, has filed to run for the at-large position on the UNM-Valencia advisory board. She works in material sales and has taken some college courses.


Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District

Three seats on the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisors are up for election and one incumbent will face a challenger.

Seat 2

Duana Draszkiewicz, 72, is running to retain her position in Seat 2, which she was appointed to earlier this year. Draszkiewicz is a retired realtor.

Seat 3

Paul Joseph Moya, 70, has been in Seat 3 for more than 15 consecutive years. Moya has a Bachelors of Science in agriculture and a masters in administration. He is a retired school teacher and life-long farmer.

Seat 4

Teresa Smith de Cherif, 60, has held Seat 4 since 2008. She has an M.D. from the University of Miami School of Medicine and a masters of international affairs. a certificate of African studies from Columbia University, a Bachelor of Arts from Mount Holyoke College with a focus on arid lands.

Smith de Cherif is a retired physician and retired journalist..

Albert D. Shrecengost, 62, is an installation manager with a masters in global management running against Smith de Cherif.

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.