Voters in all five municipalities in Valencia County, the county’s two school districts, local college board and a special district will go to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 7, to elect 27 people to office.
A total of 47 candidates have stepped up to run for nonpartisan elected offices.
Belen and Los Lunas school districts proposed general obligation bond questions on the ballot, while voters in the LLS district will vote on two mill levies.
City of Belen
Four candidates in the Hub City are vying for two council seats — incumbent Tracy Armijo, Rudy M. Espinoza, Debra Ann Blake Gabaldon and Lawrence Lee Padilla.
Armijo, 55, a production planning control specialist with Sandia Labs, holds a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in homeland security
Espinoza, 64, a regional security director and retired Army veteran, is a high school graduate.
Gabaldon, 59, works for the city of Belen parks department, is a BHS graduate and went to nursing college for three years at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus.
Padilla, 48, is the general manager for a restaurant and a high school graduate.
Belen City Councilor Danny Bernal Jr., who is finishing his first four-year term, is not seeking reelection.
Village of Bosque Farms
Two former mayors of Bosque Farms are challenging each other for the village’s top seat.
Wayne Ake, 79, served on the council for two terms and three as mayor, with his last term ending in 2020. Ake has a bachelor’s degree in business management with a minor in economics, and is a retired safety director. He is a business owner in the fields of insurance, travel and equipment rental.
Robert Knowlton Jr., 66, was a village councilor from 2004-12 and served as mayor from 2012-16, is an engineer at Sandia National Laboratories. He has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, as well as a master’s degree and PhD in hydrology.
Council incumbents Ronita Wood and Bryan Burks have filed to run again, along with Erica De Smet, for the two open council seats.
Burks, 47, is running for his second term on the council. He has a bachelor’s degree in fiber and information assurance and his occupation is Department of the Air Force civilian.
De Smet, 43, has a high school diploma, and is the co-owner and operator of De Smet Dairy in the village. Wood, 63, was appointed to the council in November 2017, and is a teacher with a master’s degree in education.
There are two candidates for municipal judge — Ginger Eldridge and Rhonda Stirling.
Eldridge has a master’s degree in special education, and is a retired educator. She served on the village council from 2002-06.
Stirling, 61, is an educator, paralegal, medical radiographer and business owner with legal certifications, an associate degree in radiologic sciences and a bachelor’s degree in political science.
Bosque Farms Mayor Russ Walkup and Municipal Judge Dolly Wallace are not seeking reelection.
Village of Los Lunas
Residents of Los Lunas will have four races to watch — mayor, municipal judge and District 2 and 4 council seats.
Alonzo Baldonado, 49, a local Realtor and former state representative, is challenging incumbent Charles Griego. Baldonado has a bachelor’s degree in business.
Griego, 72, is the manager of Heritage Title of Valencia County and has been mayor since 2014. He served on the village council from 1982-2013 and has a bachelor’s degree in history.
Gino Romero, 52, a broker in the food service industry, is running for his third council term for the District 2 council seat, and has an associate degree in business.
James Runyon, 55, is a pastor who holds a doctorate, is running for his second term as the District 4 councilor.
Neither councilors have opposition in their races.
Mark A. Aguilar, 63, is challenging incumbent Los Lunas Judge Avilio Chavez, 50, for the municipal judgeship.
Aguilar, a high school graduate, is the Los Lunas code enforcement supervisor and sits on the Valencia County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Chavez has a bachelor of arts degree.
Town of Peralta
The two incumbent town of Peralta councilors are the only candidates on the ballot.
Both Michael Leon Otero and Joseph Romero have served on the council since the town incorporated in 2007.
Otero, 69, is a retired business owner, and Romero, 45, has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and has been an engineer in the public sector for 20-plus years.
City of Rio Communities
Voters in Rio Communities will choose among four candidates who want to fill two council seats.
Richard Henderson, 63, a high school graduate, is a retired New Mexico Department of Corrections captain, and recently stepped down as the director of public safety for the International Balloon Fiesta.
Matthew Marquez, 48, is retired from the military and is a former federal employee. He has a high school diploma.
Thomas Nelson, 54, is a mechanic and holds an associate degree in applied science.
Jim Winters is running for his second term on the council. He has a bachelor of science degree in medical technology/chemistry and is a laboratory scientist specializing in coagulation (hemostasis) disorders.
City Councilor Peggy Gutjahr is not seeking reelection.
Belen Board of Education
Three seats are up for election for the Belen Board of Education.
In District 1, incumbent Max Cordova is not seeking reelection, and only one person filed as a write-in candidate.
Orlando Santillanes, 24, is an assistant general manager at Noblin Funeral Service, and went to college at New Mexico Military Institute.
In District 2, incumbent Aubrey Tucker is being challenged by Amanda Silva and write-in candidate Andrew Salas.
Silva, 59, teaches early Head Start education, and holds bachelor’s degree in education and bilingual education and a master’s degree in curriculum, supervision and administration.
Salas, 64, is a retired New Mexico National Guard brigadier general, Salas holds a master’s degree in government studies and international relations from the Naval Post Graduate School.
Tucker, 57, is a retired school administrator, and holds a bachelor’s degree in music education and music performance, and a master’s degree in administration.
The District 3 race drew three qualified candidates — Michael Byers, Ralph Fernandez and incumbent Larry Lindberg.
Byers, 70, holds an associate degree and is a missionary preacher/laborer.
Fernandez, 49, is a retired Bernalillo County administrator and has a high school diploma.
Lindberg, 78, is a retired chief inspector for the U.S. Marshal Service with a bachelor’s degree in education and master’s degree in educational administration.
Los Lunas Board of Education
In District 1, Justin M. Talley, 46, was the only candidate to file to run. He is an electrical engineer with a master’s degree in electrical engineering.
Board president Tina Garcia is not seeking reelection for District 1.
In District 2, Sonya C. Moya and Monica J. Otero are seeking the seat.
Moya, 46, served on the LLBOE from 2014-20. She has a bachelor’s of science degree and is a senior account executive for Presbyterian Health Plan.
Otero, 31, is the manager of Otero Farms and Cowboy Rx, and full-time mom to four. She has a high school diploma and attended the University of New Mexico.
Current District 2 board member Eloy Giron is not seeking reelection.
Michelle I. Osowski and Jedediah C. Dixon filed to run for District 4.
Osowski, 61, is a senior studies director. She holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry, as well as a doctorate in educational psychology.
Dixon, 45, is the owner and manager of Mesa Tractor and is a high school graduate.
Current District 4 board member Bryan Smith is not seeking reelection.
University of New Mexico-Valencia Advisory Board
There are three seats on the ballot for the UNM-Valencia Advisory Board.
Belinda Martinez is seeking reelection for her Position 2 seat. She is a retired educator from Belen Schools, who has held her seat since 2003, and is a cum laude graduate of UNM-Valencia and a graduate of the UNM College of Education.
No one initially filed to run for the Position 3 — one of two at-large seats in Los Lunas — currently held by Russell Griego, but three people did file as write-in candidates.
Torres Leyba, Richard Montgomery and Christopher Williams are write-in candidates for this position.
Leyba, 47, a political consultant, holds an associate degree in applied science in general studies from the University of New Mexico-Valencia.
Montgomery, 75, has a degree in business from UNM, where he graduated cum laude. He is retired from the UNM chemical and nuclear engineering department professional staff
Williams, 53, retired from the Air National Guard after 23 years of service in 2014. He is currently in his 25th year at Sandia National Laboratory, and received an associate degree in nuclear engineering from Aiken Technical College.
Position 5 incumbent Paul Luna, 70, holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and is a retired educator. Luna was first elected to the board in 1999.
Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District
There are three seats up for election on the VSWCD Board of Supervisors — two four-year terms and one two-year term.
Two of the four-year terms and the two-year term can only be held by someone who owns property within the district, lives in the district and is a registered voter.
There are five candidates seeking those three positions. Voters will be asked to vote for three candidates. The two receiving the most votes will get the two four-year seats, and the third highest vote getter will take the two-year seat.
The candidates are Nicholas Baca, Abel Camarena, Duana Draszkiewicz, James Robert Fischer and David L. Neff.
Baca, 32, is an entrepreneur and farmer, and holds a high school diploma.
Camarena, 73, appointed to the board in 2008, as a representative for the Pueblo of Isleta, has a bachelor of science degree in wildlife management and is retired from the USDA Forest Service.
Draszkiewicz, 74, is a retired Realtor, and has an associate degree with three-plus years of college education.
Fischer, 66, is a retired building inspector and has a degree in engineering.
Neff, 54, retired from the U.S. Army in 2012, and is a volunteer in the community. He holds two associate degrees in political science and history.
Two candidates filed for the position which does not require land ownership — Pam Cordova and Gail Goodman.
Cordova, 66, is a retired educator with a master’s degree in organizational management. She was appointed to the board after the death of Joseph Moya in October 2022.
Moya’s term runs through 2025, and one of the five landowner candidates elected will serve the remaining two years of the term.
Gail Goodman, 80, is a doctor of education, and a retired educator and writer running for her second term on the VSWCD board.
Belen Consolidated Schools GO bond
A $13 million general obligation bond question will be on the Nov. 7 ballot to benefit Belen Consolidated Schools.
Specific projects recommended to be funded by the GO bond include, but not limited to:
- Pest control and HVAC — heating, ventilation and air conditioning — and ADA — Americans with Disabilities Act — improvements at Central Elementary
- ADA, plumbing and HVAC improvements at Gil Sanchez
- The completion of construction at Dennis Chavez; roof, carpet and gym HVAC replacement at La Merced
- Lighting improvements at La Promesa; and paving, door and window upgrades, and ADA and security improvements at Belen Family School
- Needs at Belen Middle School include ADA improvements and renovation of the 600 building
- ADA improvements and portable renovations were recommended at Infinity High School
- At Belen High School, a site master plan to prepare for future replacement and renovations was recommended, as well as roof replacement for the 100/200 building, an upgrade to the exterior of the 800 building and replacement of the HVAC system in the Career Tech building
Los Lunas Schools mill levies, GO bond
Los Lunas Schools is proposing a $24 million general obligation bond and the continuation of a 2 and 3 mill levy on November’s ballot.
Sandra Traczyk, the chief financial officer of LLS, said there will be no tax rate increase through the proposed bond and levies. If passed, it will bring in about $11 million per year for the district to spend on facility and technology improvements.
The 2 mill, which amounts to roughly $2 million annually, covers most of the facility repairs needed across the district and would qualify the district to receive an additional $1 million in state matching funds.
The 3 mill levy, which generates about $3 million per year, is dedicated to technology. Traczyk said revenue from this mill maintains the district’s internet and pays for a lot of technology equipment, such as iPads and laptops and other equipment the students use regularly.
Absentee ballots must be completed and returned by 7 p.m., Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Ballots can be returned by mail, in person at the clerk’s office, at any of the early voting locations, at one of the Voter Convenience Centers on Election Day or in one of the following three secure ballot dropboxes in the county until 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Ballot dropboxes are located at the Belen Community Center, Bosque Farms Public Library and the Valencia County Administration Offices, where early voting is taking place.
Early voting runs through Saturday, Nov. 4. The three sites are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Election day polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7, at various locations in Valencia County:
- Ann Parish Elementary School, 112 Meadow Lake Road, Meadow Lake
- Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane, Belen
- Belen Public Library, 333 Becker Ave., Belen
- Bosque Farms Public Library, 1455 W. Bosque Loop, Bosque Farms
- Daniel Fernandez Intermediate School, 32 Sun Valley Road, Los Lunas
- Del Rio Senior Center, 351 Rio Communities Blvd., Rio Communities
- Don Jose Dolores Cordova Cultural Center, 426 Jarales Road, Jarales
- El Cerro Mission Community Center, 309 El Cerro Mission Road, El Cerro Mission
- Logsdon Hall, 19676 N.M. 314, Los Chavez
- Los Lunas Schools Administration, 119 Luna Ave., Los Lunas
- Peralta Town Hall, 90A Molina Road, Peralta
- Pueblo of Isleta Veterans Center, 4001 N.M. 314, Isleta
- Tomé Dominguez de Mendoza Community Center, 2933 N.M. 47, Tomé
- UNM-Valencia Workforce Training Center, 1020 Huning Ranch East Loop SW, Los Lunas
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