Bosque Farms — Valencia County’s last hold out to election consolidation is considering joining the rest of the municipalities in November elections run by the Valencia County clerk’s office.

At the December meeting, Bosque Farms Village Council members discussed the pros and cons of opting into the Local Election Act, which would move the village’s municipal elections from March to November every two years.

When the state rewrote the election code in 2018, municipalities and other nonpartisan boards were given the choice to either move their elections to November in odd years — leaving partisan races in November of even years — or stay on their traditional election cycle.

In the county, the cities of Belen and Rio Communities moved to November elections in 2019 and the village of Los Lunas and town of Peralta waited until 2021.

The village of Bosque Farms chose to stay with its traditional election cycle of March in even years.

Municipalities that decided to have November elections then had the additional choice of shortening the terms of the seats coming up in the next election cycle by about four months or extending them by 18 months.

The seats coming up in the next village election are for mayor, a seat held by Russell Walkup, municipal judge, Dolly Wallace, and the council positions held by Ronita Wood and Bryan Burks.

If the council ultimately decides to let the county administer village elections, it will have to decide which election cycle to join — the upcoming 2023 election, which cuts terms short, or wait until 2025 and push those four seats out an additional 18 months.

“I favor cutting it short and letting the voters be heard in November,” said Mayor Russ Walkup.

Councilor Tim Baughman asked if the village would see savings by letting the county clerk’s office take over management of the village elections.

“It seems like the budget is around $8,000 to $10,000,” Baughman said. “That would be quite a bit of savings. Will there be a benefit to village employees in not having to run our own elections?”

Village Clerk/Administrator Melissa Velasquez said the budget for the elections was typically around $8,000, adding consolidation would absolutely benefit village employees.

“The county is very adept at conducting elections. I do have trust in their election system to get what we need done,” Velasquez said.

Councilor Burks asked if the county would keep the Bosque Farms Public Library as a Voting Convenience Center if the village handed off the duty. Velasquez said that would make sense, since it would be a municipal election.

“I believe they would be sensitive to that,” she said.

Lillie McNabb, a village resident and a former election official for 50 years, said letting the county handle the elections would be a benefit to the village.

“It will save so much (money). People don’t realize, the (village) administration starts at least six months prior to the election,” McNabb said.

Former mayor and village resident Sharon Eastman felt the village should continue to run its own elections.

“If the county says we’ll have a voting center, do they pay for people and choose the poll workers?” Eastman asked.

Walkup said the county would foot the entire bill and select poll workers.

“I’m not fond of this,” Eastman said. “I think we should run our own.”

As the village’s clerk, Velasquez said she has worked hand-in-hand with the county clerk’s office and bureau of elections.

“I would be very much involved but it would free up time, rather than me physically having to coordinate the election,” she said. “Given the experiences I’ve had in the last three elections I helped conduct, things are increasingly difficult for the (municipal) clerk. The (secretary of state) has increased some duties for municipal clerks.

“Whatever the council decides, I do have the experience to do a good election. There are challenges but we can work it out and get through it.”

The council directed staff to draft two ordinances moving elections to November — one for 2023 and one for 2025 — for consideration at its January meeting. To make the change, the council would also need to approve a formal resolution before June 30, 2023.

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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.