The two incumbent county commissioners lost their primary election races to challenges Tuesday.
Democrat Carlos Montoya, with 657 votes, defeated incumbent Commissioner S.T. Frank Pando, 472 votes, in the District 1 primary election. Republican Mary Andersen eliminated Melvin Hawkins, 348 to 180 votes, setting up a Montoya vs. Andersen face-off in November’s general election.
Joan Artiaga had no problem winning out over Alberto Carrillo in the Republican District 3 commissioner’s race with 337 votes to his 168 votes. Paul Trujillo defeated incumbent Helen Baca and newcomer Chris Martinez on the Democratic side of the ballot.
Trujillo racked up 487 votes, Martinez had 434 votes and Helen Baca finished with 404 votes.
Montoya, a 1971 graduate of Los Lunas High with a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of Albuquerque, said he wants to bring a positive change to the county.
“When I got into this race, I saw the direction the county is headed,” Montoya said in a phone interview Tuesday night. “I felt my experience from being on the Los Lunas Village Council could help the county.”
Montoya served on the village council from 1988-1998.
“The issues I focused on during the primary are to bring the employees back to a 40-hour week by seriously looking at the contract with Cornell,” Montoya said. “And I want to restore programs that were cut, such as 4-H.”
Mary Andersen, born in Raton and a graduate of Albuquerque High School, thinks the primary concern of Valencia County is to organize the budget.
“We need a good budget and management techniques,” Andersen said when interviewed Tuesday night at the courthouse. “I think I have the ability, and I know how to handle budgets and money.”
Andersen holds a bachelor’s degree in institutional management from Oklahoma State. She obtained her master’s in business administration from the University of South Dakota.
“I handled a budget of $74 million in Omaha, Neb.,” Andersen said. “I did it all without ever violating any school district regulations.”
Andersen was director of nutrition services for the Omaha school district and was active in lobbying legislators in Washington, D.C., for the school lunch program.
She has been a county resident for two years.
In the District 3 commissioner’s race, Artiaga, a graduate of Los Lunas High and University of New Mexico-Valencia Campus, ran in this race because she opposes a power plant in the county.
“I just want to thank all of the people who got out to vote, for the vote of confidence,” Antiaga said. “I’m really, really looking forward to the general (election). It’s going to be an exciting race.”
“I plan on knocking on every door in the district to find out what’s important to the people,” Artiaga said. “I think finances are important, and we’ve got to get the employees back to work.
“It looks like the people are looking for change and some new blood.”
For Democratic winner Trujillo in District 3, the main issue is also about getting the county employees back to 40 hours.
“The employees who are on 32 hours are really hurting,” Trujillo said. “That has to be tops on the list. Many have not had an adequate raise in years.”
Trujillo, who has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from New Mexico State University, has also toured the county roads that need repairs, and he said he’s seen the need for waste to be disposed of properly. He also thinks that the $8.9 million county budget is not adequate.
“We need to up that budget by $2 million per year,” Trujillo said.
“There are people who have many conerns. This will give me a chance to visit with people and find some creative ideas to improve the county.”