Barely 30 minutes before filing day came to an end on Tuesday, Republican Sen. Greg Baca announced he was not seeking reelection to his District 29 seat. 

In 2022, redistricting for the New Mexico Legislature shifted the boundaries for Baca’s district to include the community of Veguita, where District 30 Republican Sen. Joshua Sanchez lives, setting up a conflict for the two incumbents in this year’s election cycle. Barring a change in residence for one of the men, it looked like a possible head-to-head primary battle was brewing. 

Sen. Greg Baca (R-29)

That did not come to be, with Baca stepping out and Sanchez filing late on Tuesday to run for the District 29 seat as the only Republican on the primary ballot.  

“It is clear to me that the greatest good I can do for the people of my community and the state of New Mexico does not lie in seeking another term in the legislature,” Baca wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “Though this announcement may come as a shock to some, careful observers of the progressive plan to pit two Hispanic Republicans against each other through redistricting may have seen this coming. In short, I refuse to allow the radical left to pit brother against brother.” 

During the redistricting process, Baca was critical of Democrats, saying the boundary maps were done “under the guise of fair racial and cultural representation,” but at the end of the process, the Hispanic population in New Mexico actually lost seats in the Roundhouse. 

“It felt disingenuous. As a minority majority state, we are about 50 percent and by (the Democrat’s) reasoning, that would have resulted in 21 seats being Hispanic leaning,” he said in 2022. “Instead, they moved Hispanic-influenced districts from 17 to 15. I kind of took it as a personal shot.” 

In the statement he issued on Tuesday, Baca, the senate minority leader, wrote, “my work is not done. Our state has a bright future ahead and our momentum in the state senate is evidence of that. A new day for New Mexico is coming, and as leader of the Senate Republican Caucus, a small business owner, and husband and father, I will do everything I can to see that day become a reality. 

“To the voters of District 29, thank you for your confidence and support. To my Republican colleagues in the senate, thank you for the honor of serving as your leader. This has been the opportunity and privilege of a lifetime that I will never forget.” 

Sanchez, a small business owner, is on the ballot for the District 29 primary along with Democrat Tina Garcia, meaning the two have a clear road to the November general election, barring any write-in candidates next week.  

Garcia served as the Valencia County clerk from 2000-07 and retired as a magistrate for Valencia County Division I in 2021, after 14 years on the bench. She was also appointed to the Los Lunas Schools Board of Education, and has completed high school and some college.   

In District 30, right now two Democrats out of Cibola County are on the primary ballot — Angel Charley and Clemente Sanchez. 

Charley, who has never held elected office, is the executive director of IllumiNative and was the executive director of the Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women from 2019 to 2024. 

Clemente Sanchez held the seat for District 30 from 2012-20, when he lost the primary to Valencia County Democrat Pam Cordova, who lost the general election to Joshua A. Sanchez. Clemente Sanchez is the president and CEO of Bank of New Mexico. 

Joshua A. Sanchez has held the District 30 seat for one term, since 2021. 

Elizabeth Stefanics, a Democrat, is the third senator for Valencia County, having held the District 39 seat since 2017. She filed as a candidate for the June race and is running unopposed. 

Tuesday came to a close with 28 candidates filing to run in the upcoming June primaries where Valencia County Democrats and Republicans will vote for the candidate they want to send on to the November general election. 

At the county level, there are three, four-year Valencia County Commission seats on the ballot this year, in addition to the race for county clerk and county treasurer, which are both four-year seats. Other positions on the ballot include the 13th Judicial district attorney, as well as state senate and house of representatives.  

For those who missed Tuesday’s filing day, they can still file as write-in candidates from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 19, at the Valencia County Clerk’s office, 444 Luna Ave., in Los Lunas. 

Valencia County Commission

The Valencia County Commission seats for District 2, 4 and 5 are up for reelection this year. Republicans Troy Richardson and Joseph Bizzell have filed to run for their second terms in Districts 2 and 4, respectively. 

Republicans James R. Dean, 75, and Samuel Moses Esquibel, 35, and Democrat Duana Draszkiewicz also filed for the District 2 seat.  

Dean has completed two years of college and is retired from federal civil service with the U.S. Army after 40 years and eight years in federal and county law enforcement. Esquibel, is self-employed and completed some college. 

Richardson, 45, owns a well drilling company, RNM Water Solutions LLC, and manages a 650 acre farm in Belen. He has completed two years of college. 

Draszkiewicz, 74, has served on the Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors. She is a retired realtor and attend three-plus years at the University of New Mexico. 

Democrat Charles Eaton, 57, has filed to run for the District 4 seat. Eaton was most recently the administrative services director for the city of Belen after retiring as the Valencia County fire chief. He served as a Valencia County commissioner for three terms and as Valencia County probate judge. Eaton is a Belen High School graduate and completed courses at the University of New Mexico-Valencia campus for his EMS certifications. 

Challenging Bizzell in the primary is former Valencia County Commissioner for District 3 David Hyder. A Republican, Hyder, 47, has a college degree and is a corrections manager. Bizzell, 50, is a contractor and a BHS graduate. 

In District 5, Jhonathan Aragon cannot run again due to term limits. He was appointed to the commission by Gov. Susana Martinez in August 2013. Aragon ran for the two-year seat in 2014 and was elected to the position. He was then re-elected in 2016 for a four-year term, and again in 2020. 

Republican Dante E. Berry, 31, has filed to run for the seat. A financial advisor, Berry has an associate degree from New Mexico Military Institute and a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico. 

Valencia County Clerk

Republican incumbent Mike Milam, 61, has filed to run for a second term as county clerk and will be challenged in the primaries by Republican Carlos E. Aragon, 34.  

Milam graduated high school from New Mexico Military Institute and from vocational trade school in Roswell with a degree in applied science. 

Aragon was an employee of the Valencia County clerk’s office and bureau of elections for more than 15 years, and now works as a commercial appraiser for the Valencia County assessor’s office. 

Rustin Porter, 41, a Democrat, holds an associate of arts in liberal arts and is the chief procurement officer for Valencia County.  

Valencia County Treasurer

Republican Ron Saiz, 57, is the incumbent candidate for the Valencia County treasurer seat. Saiz was appointed in 2022 to replace then county treasurer Deseri Sichler, who left the position midterm after being elected to the Valencia County Magistrate Division III seat. 

Saiz is a retired chief master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force/New Mexico Air National Guard. 

Republicans Leyda Martinez Hahn and Danielle Marie Trujillo have both filed in the primary.  

Hahn, 58, completed high school and is a senior escrow officer for First American Title. 

Trujillo, 39, is a certified appraiser with the Valencia County assessor’s office. She has a bachelor’s of art degree from the University of New Mexico.

Michelle Tafoya, a Democrat, also filed to run. 

13th Judicial District Attorney

Democrat incumbent Barbara Romo has filed for her second term as district attorney for the 13th Judicial District. Before being elected DA, Romo was the chief deputy district attorney for the DA’s office. She has 20-plus years in prosecution and victims’ rights experience. She is unchallenged in the primary. 

House of Representatives

In the N.M. House of Representatives, there are four seats representing Valencia County — Districts 7, 8, 49 and 69.  

Republican Tanya Mirabal Moya, 49, has filed to run for a second term as the District 7 representative. A physics teacher at Belen High School, Moya has a Bachelor of Science in health and wellness and a Master of Science in sports management, coaching and athletic administration. 

In District 8, Brian Baca, a Republican, also filed for his second term. He was appointed in January 2022 to finish out the term of Alonzo Baldonado following his abrupt resignation at the end of 2021.  

Christian Garcia, a Democrat, has filed for the District 8 position. Garcia is a former Peralta town councilor and owns CG’s Concrete Inc. He completed high school and holds an associate degree. 

Republican Gail Armstrong has represented District 49 since 2017, and will be running again this year. Armstrong is a business owner and rancher, and has served on the Magdalena Board of Education. 

In District 69, incumbent Democrat Harry Garcia has filed to run again. He has represented the district since he was appointed in 2016. 

Democrats Stanley E. Michael and Michelle Abeyta are on the June ballot for District 69 as well. 

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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.