BOSQUE FARMS — Municipal elections in Bosque Farms are moving to November starting this year.
After several months of discussion and checking details, the Bosque Farms Village Council voted 4-0 to align its municipal elections with the rest of the municipalities in Valencia County.
The cities of Belen and Rio Communities moved to November elections in 2019, and the village of Los Lunas and town of Peralta changed in 2021, while Bosque Farms stayed with its traditional election cycle of March in even-numbered years. The municipal elections are now administered by the Valencia County clerk’s office.
The councilors’ main concerns were whether the traditional polling location at the Bosque Farms Public Library would remain and if there would be an early voting location in the village.
During the June 15 council meeting, Mayor Russ Walkup said he received assurances from Valencia County Clerk Mike Milam that the library would remain a polling place, and early voting would be held at a site in the village.
Walkup said under state law, municipalities can request an early voting location for local elections but have to do so by Jan. 30 of the election year.
“We will have an early voting location in the village for (2023),” Walkup said, in response to a question from Councilor Ronita Wood.
The ordinance also clarifies that village councilors would not have to run in a geographic district but would be at-large candidates.
In 2022, the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office directed the village to assign position numbers to the two open seats on the council, requiring candidates to declare for either Position 1 or 2.
Due to the village’s population, by law it’s not required to be divided into geographically defined council districts and councilors run at-large, meaning they just have to live within village boundaries.
While candidates did have to indicate which position they were running for in 2022 when they filed, the final ballots presented to voters read in the traditional way — three at-large candidates with direction to pick two.
At the May council meeting when councilors discussed the ordinance, former village clerk/administrator Gayle Jones, who is now assisting the village as an independent contractor, said new legislation passed in the 2023 session put at-large positions back in the language of the Local Election Act, eliminating the requirement for positions.
The councilors wanted to err on the side of caution and put specific language in the village ordinance to clarify the matter. Attorney Mark Jarmie suggested adding language stating “all councilors shall be elected at large to represent the entire village and not a district,” stipulating that the two candidates for council receiving the most votes in each election will be elected to serve a four-year term.
The approval of the ordinance with the additional language from the attorney moves the March 2024 village election to Nov. 7 of this year, shortening the terms for the seats coming up in the next election cycle — mayor, currently held by Russell Walkup; municipal judge, held by Dolly Wallace; and the council positions held by Ronita Wood and Bryan Burks.
Newly-elected officials will take office on Jan. 1, 2024.
Candidates wishing to run for municipal offices this year will file between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 29, at the Valencia County Clerk’s Office, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas.
In other business:
- The council unanimously approved the sale of surplus weapons belonging to the village police department.
Bosque Farms Police Chief Andrew Owen said the sale of the handguns and rifles the department was replacing would only be made to current officers and members of other law enforcement agencies, not the general public.
Owen said the department could trade in the weapons to the company it bought its new weapons from, but that would result in what amounted to a store credit with the company, whereas the sale to officers would result in cash to the department.
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.