(Editor’s Note (Nov. 4, 2:20 p.m.): The vote totals for the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District board of supervisor races have been updated. The district includes multiple counties — Valencia, Bernalillo, Socorro, Sandoval and Cibola counties.

The number of total votes received by each candidate has been updated to reflect the results from all five counties. No votes were cast in Socorro or Sandoval counties in any of the VSWCD races.

In the Position 4 race, the only contested race, incumbent Teresa Smith de Cherif remains in the lead.

The total number of votes cast on the 2 mill levy tax question for Belen Consolidated were also only Valencia County. The district extends south into northern Socorro County. Those numbers have been updated.)

Councilors, judges, board members elected

Voters approve GO bond, mill levy


From News-Bulletin reports

The unofficial numbers are in for the 2021 regular local elections in Valencia County.

A field of 40-plus candidates in eight races has been narrowed down, leaving some candidates separated by a single vote.

Election results aren’t considered official until they are canvassed and certified by the Valencia County Commission and accepted by the New Mexico Secretary of State.

At least one race is very tight, and could undergo an automatic recount after canvassing has taken place.

Belen Mayor

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

Unofficial numbers put Noblin in the lead with 752 votes, followed by Carrillo with 346 and Bernal with 305. Since Bernal was two years into his four-year term, he will return to his seat.

Noblin will appoint someone to his seat, with council approval, until the next local election in 2023.

Belen City Council

Five candidates filed to run for the two open seats on the Belen council. Voters could vote for two candidates.

On Tuesday night, incumbent Frank Ortega was in the lead with 584 votes, Steven Holdman followed with 388, then Megan Malcom Morgan with 346. Mike Moreno and Marcella Melendez tied at 278 each.

Belen Municipal Judge

The three-way race for Belen municipal judge is a nail-biter.

Keith Norwood is hanging on to the lead with 484 votes to Yvette Padilla’s 483. Manny Garcia took away 418 votes.


Rio Communities Mayor

Joshua Ramsell was the only candidate to file for the mayor’s seat in Rio Communities, taking 586 votes.

Rio Communities City Council

Six candidates filed to fill the two open council seats in the city of Rio Communities, with voters asked to vote for their top two candidates.

In the lead, with 335 votes is Arthur Apodaca, followed by Lawrence Gordon with 290. John Thompson got 194, Richard Henderson taking 144, Ronnie White with 70 and Leyda Hahn with 69.

Rio Communities Municipal Judge

Holly Noelle Chavez was appointed as the Rio Communities municipal judge in May 2020, and ran unopposed. She received 572 votes.


Los Lunas Village Council

There were three council seats on the ballot in the village of Los Lunas, which drew a field of five candidates. Voters could vote for one candidate in the council race for their district.

District 1

Incumbent Christopher Ortiz was elected for the first time in 2016. He ran unopposed and received 179 votes

District 3

Cruz Munoz is the incumbent and was appointed to the council in February 2019. He received 143 votes.

District 4

The District 4 race was the only one to draw challengers. As of Tuesday evening, James Runyon led the race with 103 votes.

Helen Jaramillo received 87 votes and incumbent Phillip Jaramillo took home 54.


Peralta Mayor

In the mayoral race for Peralta, incumbent Bryan Olguin received 306 votes, while challengers Christine Murphy and Margarita Castillo received 227 and 171 votes, respectively. This was Olguin’s fourth run for mayor.

Peralta Town Council

The two incumbent councilors ran for second terms with no opposition. Both councilors have held their seats since 2016. Claudio Moya received 355 votes, and Randy Smith got 352 votes.

Peralta Municipal Judge

Tracy Aragon  has served as Peralta’s judge since 2016. He received 543 votes in his unopposed run for another four years on the bench.


Belen Board of Education

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

District 4

Jim Danner, who has held the seat since 2014, received 674 votes.

District 5

Larry Garley was appointed to the 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 received 212 votes this year.


Los Lunas Board of Education

While the entire Los Lunas Schools Board of Education was permanently suspended in May by former New Mexico Secretary of Education Ryan Stewart, the seats for Districts 3 and 5 were due to appear on the 2021 ballot.

District 3

Dave Vickers, who was a member of the suspended board, received 101 votes. He was followed by Paul Herrera with 97, Jessie Lewis with 79 and Charles Rhodes with 61.

District 5

As of Tuesday night, Bruce E. Bennett, led the field with 207 votes. He was appointed to the Los Lunas Schools Governing Committee in June.

Brandon Campanella received 177 votes and Steven Otero took 88. Otero was also a member of the permanently suspended board.


UNM-VC Advisory Board

The University of New Mexico-Valencia campus Advisory Board has two positions open this fall, one of which was a contested race.

Position 1

Position 1 incumbent Eloisa Tabet, received 2,028 votes. She has held the position since 2010.

At-large Position

In the at-large race, Joleen Chavez leads incumbent Roberta Scott 2,472 votes to 2,177.


VSWCD Board of Supervisors

Three seats on the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors were up for election, and one incumbent faced a challenger.

Position 2

Duana Draszkiewicz ran unopposed, receiving 3,716 votes. She was appointed to the seat earlier this year.

Position 3

Paul Joseph Moya has served on the board for 21 years and received 3,951 votes.

Position 4

Incumbent Teresa Smith de Cherif received 2,815 votes. She has been on the board since 2008. Challenger Albert D. Shrecengost took home 1,881 votes.


Belen $2.5 million GO Bond

Voters in Belen approved a general obligation bond worth $2.5 million to build and equip a new police station 786 to 533.

Both the mayor of Belen and the police chief were thrilled Hub City voters decided to approve the GO bond for a new police station.

“I’m very pleased,” BPD Chief James Harris said. “It will allow us to move forward with the police department, which we believe is moving in the right direction. A new facility that is more modern and allows for officers to conduct their business is one very important step in becoming a police department that I envision us being.

“I would very much like to thank the voters,” he added. “The voters were very wise in (approving the GO bond).”

“I’d like to thank the voters for their support of our police department,” said Belen Mayor Jerah Cordova. “With the money that was approved, we’ll be able to build a new police station, and continue to support a 21st century police force.”

Cordova said the city would have to wait for the bonds to be sold before the funding would be available. The city would also have to choose a site for the new police station. He expects construction to begin in 2023.

The building the police station is currently housed in is more than 120 years old. It has structural problems in the foundation, which is creating leaks in the building’s sewer line, causing seepage under walls within the building and mold issues.

A new station would include a secured parking lot, which will prevent damage to police vehicles, plus an evidence room with more space.


Belen Schools mill levy

Voters in the Belen Consolidated Schools district approved a 2 mill levy on property taxes by a vote of 1,406 to 991.

BCS superintendent Lawrence Sanchez said he and the board of education thanked all those who voted for continuation of the levy.

“Thank you for supporting the 3,600 children in Belen Consolidated Schools,” Sanchez said “We greatly appreciate it. We are happy the voters recognize the need to continue the mill levy, and continue the maintenance of the schools to provide a good learning environment for our students.”

Historically, the mill levy has generated about $1.5 million a year for the district, and is used in a number of ways, including repair and maintenance of facilities, renovations, paving, lighting and technology upgrades.

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.