Vigil reelected as county sheriff; Sparkman for county commission

Valencia County voters swung red this year, voting in Republicans across the board for county level offices and judgeships.

The county electorate also favored Republicans in statewide races, such as the competition between incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Republican Mark Ronchetti, with Lujan Grisham walking away with 10,065 votes to Ronchetti’s 14,744. The preliminary state-wide tally in the gubernatorial race gives Lujan Grisham the win for the state.

The 54 percent voter turnout made the late election night worth it, said Valencia County Clerk Mike Milam.

“We had 54 percent turnout which is outstanding,” Milam said. “This is one of our best turnouts ever. We had a lot of new voters register who had never voted before. I believe one was 70 years old.”

Out of the county’s 46,901 registered voters, 25,456 cast a ballot in this year’s General Election.

Milam said lines were long on Tuesday, with more than 9,000 voters turning out to cast their ballots in person but the process went smoothly.

“The same-day registration system was slow because we had a lot of people registering, but that was a statewide issue,” the clerk said.

Valencia County Sheriff

In the race for Valencia County Sheriff, incumbent Republican Denise Vigil beat Democrat challenger Rodney Jones, 14,730 to 10,297, to win her second term.

Vigil was a registered Democrat when she ran for sheriff in 2018 but changed her affiliation two years into her first term. She cited the Democratic Party’s support for legislation and policies she viewed as detrimental to law enforcement as the reason for the switch.

Valencia County Commission

There were two seats up on the Valencia County Commission — Districts 1 and 3.

Republican Gerard Saiz ran unopposed for a second term for the District 1 seat, earning 4,332 votes.

In District 3, Democrat Sabrina Marie Sweeney lost to Republican Morris R. Sparkman, 2,293 to 2,513.

The current District 3 commissioner, David Hyder, has served two terms and could not run for another due to term limits.

Valencia County Assessor

The current Valencia County assessor, Democrat Beverly Dominguez Romero, lost her bid for her second term to Republican Celia Dawn Dittmaier, 11,443 to 13,395.

Valencia County Probate Judge

In the race for Valencia County Probate Judge, Democrat Helen (Cole) Saiz lost to Republican Wendy Wallace, 10,537 to 14,273.

Wallace was appointed to the vacant probate seat in March by the Valencia County Commission after Judge Jamie Goldberg was selected to fill the vacant Valencia County Magistrate Division III seat. Goldberg’s term as probate judge is set to end in December.

Valencia County Magistrates

Division I

In the Division I magistrate race, Republican incumbent Miles Tafoya beat Democrat Michael Melendez, 14,933 to 9,838.

Tafoya’s run for office this year was for his first four-year term, after being elected in 2020 to complete the term of retired magistrate Tina Garcia.

Division II

In Division II, Republican incumbent John Chavez won a third term against Democrat Dell P. Washington, 15,621 to 9,159.

Division III

Sabrina L. Rael, a Democrat, lost her bid for the Division III seat to Republican Deseri Sichler, 10,641 to 14,185.

Sichler is the current Valencia County treasurer and is in the middle of her second term. The Valencia County commission will be tasked with appointing her replacement to serve until the next election in 2024.

New Mexico State Representatives

District 7

Democrat Danny M. Bernal Jr. lost to Republican Tanya Mirabal Moya, 3,403 to 4,611.

Bernal is a Belen city councilor.

District 7 Rep. Kelly Fajardo announced she wasn’t running for reelection shortly before the June primary.

District 8

Republican incumbent Brian Baca received 8,474 votes in Tuesday’s General Election. He was challenged by Democratic write-in candidate Paul Kinzelman. As of Wednesday morning, there were no votes reported for Kinzelman on the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.

Districts 49 and 69

In District 49, Republican Gail Armstrong ran unopposed and received 8,735 votes total, 3,784 of those from Valencia County.

Democrat Harry Garcia in District 69 also ran unopposed, receiving 296 of his total 5,008 from voters here in the county.

Valencia County voters also approved four general obligation bonds totaling $8 million for local improvements to roads and facilities across the county.

The bond for $1 million for sheriff and fire department facilities passed 14,004 to 9,654; the $4 million for county roads passed 16,122 to 7,714; the $1.5 million for parks and recreation facilities passed 15,235 to 8,564, and $1.5 million for community and senior centers passed 14,811 to 8,934.

Approval of the GO bonds won’t increase property taxes, as they will continue the existing .87 mill property tax rate.

The number of votes cast in the 2022 General Election are unofficial and preliminary until the results have been canvassed by the Valencia County Commission and secretary of state’s office.

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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.