In the Tuesday, June 2, primary next week, Valencia County will have more than 40 local candidates on the ballot, many of whom are running in challenged races.

13th Judicial District Attorney

Three candidates filed for the 13th Judicial District Attorney position — Democrats Barbara A. Romo and Mandana Shoushtari, and Republican Joshua Joe Jimenez.

Romo, 60, is the chief deputy district attorney for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Shoushtari, 42, is a senior trial attorney with the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

Jimenez, 37, is one of the partner attorneys at Payne and Jimenez, a Los Lunas law firm.

After 20 years in office, the current district attorney, Lemuel Martinez, a Democrat, did not file to run for office and will finish out his fifth term as DA this year.

Valencia County Commission

District 2

For the District 2 Valencia County Commission seat, there are five candidates — Democrats Duana M. Draszkiewicz, Ralph R. Miramontes and incumbent Thomas William Mraz, and Republicans Christopher D. Martinez and Troy Dean Richardson.

Draszkiewicz, 70, has been a realtor for 12 years. She is running for office for the first time.

Miramontes, 51, has been a prosecution assistant for the 13th Judicial District Attorney’s office since 2002. He has not held elected office in the past.

Mraz, 50, was appointed to the District 2 seat by the governor in February. He is a certified chemical lab technician and electrical technician.

Martinez, 60, has served on the Los Lunas Schools Board of Education. He is a self-employed printer.

Richardson, 41, is a project manager running for elected office for the first time.

District 4

Three candidates total filed to run for District 4 — Democrats Leroy Baca and Logan Jeffers, and Republican Joseph Aaron Bizzell.

Baca, 68, served two terms on the Belen Board of Education, and is a retired University of New Mexico-Valencia campus teacher.

Jeffers, 24, is a medical researcher for the New Mexico Heart Institute at Lovelace Heart Hospital.

Bizzell, 46, is a contractor with no previous experience as an elected official.

Current District Commissioner Charles Eaton, a Democrat, could not file to run due to term limitations. He will finish his second term this year.

District 5

District 5 drew two candidates — Democrat David M. Tynan, and Republican incumbent Jhonathan Aragon.

Tynan is a retired engineering manager.

Aragon, 32, was appointed to the seat in 2013. He has been re-elected to the position twice. Due to term limits, this is the last time Aragon can run for this position. He is a veterinary technician.

Valencia County Clerk

There are three candidates on the ballot for the position of Valencia County Clerk — Democrats Aurora Dolores Chavez and Jennifer Jaramillo, and Republican Michael E. Milam.

Chavez, 45, is the chief deputy county clerk for the Valencia County Clerk’s Office, a position she has held since 2013. This is her first time running for elected office.

She will face Jaramillo, 34, a pharmacy technician also running for her first elected position.

Milam, 57, is a real estate broker for Keller Williams Realty and an owner broker for Preferred Property Management.

Valencia County Clerk Peggy Carabajal, a Republican, could not run again due to term limitations and will complete her second term this year.

Valencia County Treasurer

Only two candidates filed to run for Valencia County Treasurer and both will continue on to the November General Election — Democrat Michael P. Steininger and Republican incumbent Deseri Sichler.

Steininger, 60, is the special director for the State of New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration, local government division, budget and finance bureau.

Sichler, 47, is running for her second term as treasurer.

Magistrate Court Judge

After the retirement of former magistrate Tina Garcia, the Division I seat was placed on the primary ballot.

Three candidates filed — Democrats Heather R. Benavidez and Andrew J. Barreras, and Republican Miles R. Tafoya.

Benavidez, 41, was appointed to the Division I seat in late March after she filed to run for the position. She stepped down from her position as municipal judge for the city of Rio Communities, which she held since 2013.

Barreras, 54, is the former state representative for House District 7, having served two terms from 2007-2010. He is a small business owner and real estate investor.

Tafoya, 33, is a surveillance officer for the Valencia County DWI Drug Court. He has not held elected office before.

New Mexico State Senate

District 29

In District 29, only two candidates filed — Democrat Paul Baca, and Republican incumbent Gregory A. Baca, meaning they too will continue on to the November ballot.

Paul Baca, 54, is the president and CEO of Valley Improvement Association and the owner of the Long John Silver/A&W/Kicks 66 in Belen.

Gregory A. Baca, a Los Lunas attorney, is running for his second term. He has represented the district since 2017.

District 30

In District 30, Democrat incumbent Clemente Sanchez is challenged by Pamela M. Cordova. Joshua A. Sanchez and Kelly Kendra Noble filed on the Republican side.

Clemente Sanchez, who has held the seat since 2012, is a community banker.

Cordova, 62, is a retired educator and has not held an elected position in the past.

Joshua A. Sanchez, 38, owns his own business and has not held an elected position previously.

Kelly Kendra Noble is the division director of public works for the Pueblo of Zuni.

District 39

Incumbent Elizabeth Stefanics has the Democratic ticket to herself, while Republicans Joseph C. Tiano and Susan Vescovo will go head-to-head in June.

Stefanics has held the seat since 2016. She previously served as the District 39 senator from 1993 to 1996 before it included Valencia and Lincoln counties. She is a retired consultant.

Tiano, 59, of Santa Fe, has not held an elected position before. He has 24 years of law enforcement experience, including the Los Alamos Police Department, which he retired from as a senior crash investigator.

Vescovo, 66, lives in Alto in Lincoln County. She has farmed and raises and breeds races horses, as well as owning a car dealership in Las Cruces.

House of Representatives

District 7

District 7 has two candidates, both unchallenged in the primary — Democrat Santos Griego and incumbent Republican Kelly Fajardo.

Griego, 49, is a journeyman inside wireman with the IBEW, running for elected office for the first time.

Fajardo, 49, who has held the seat since 2012, is a small business owner.

District 8

In District 8, incumbent Republican Alonzo Baldonado will be challenged by Democrat Paul Matthew Kinzelman.

Kinzelman, 67, is a cargo pilot and former computer engineer. This is his first time running for elected office.

Baldonado, 46, is a real estate broker and small business owner. He has held the seat since 2012.

District 49

In District 49, incumbent Republican Gail “Missy” Armstrong is completely unchallenged, drawing no opposition from either party. She was appointed in early 2017 after Don Tripp retired. She is self employed.

District 50

The District 50 race drew four candidates — Democrats incumbent Matthew McQueen and Rebecca “Becky” King Spindle, Libertarian Jerry Gage and Republican Christina L. Estrada.

McQueen, who has held the seat since 2015, is an attorney from Lamy.

King Spindle lives in Stanley and served on the Moriarty Edgewood School Board.

Jerry Gage, 58, is a veteran who retired from the public service sector.

Estrada, 45, is from Estancia and is a self-employed rancher and rental property owner. She hasn’t held an elected position before.

District 69

In the District 69 race, Democrat incumbent Harry Garcia will be unchallenged in the primary, as will Roy Randall Ryan, who filed on the Republican ticket.

Garcia, appointed to the seat in 2016, is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, and has been a small business owner in Cibola County for more than 30 years.

Ryan, 72, is a first-time candidate. He is retired from law enforcement after 33 years, including working for the Cibola County Sheriff’s Office and Cibola County Detention Center.

13th Judicial District Court Judge

There are three divisions in the 13th Judicial District Court open for judge candidates.

Division 4

In Division 4, in Cibola County, Democrat Amanda Sanchez Villalobos filed to run. She was appointed to the bench in May by the governor, and has worked as an associate staff attorney with the New Mexico Court of Appeals since 2012.

Division 5

Democrat James A. Noel was appointed to the bench in Sandoval County in March. He has been the court executive officer and court clerk in the Second Judicial District since 2015.

Division 7

Also appointed to the bench by the governor in March, Democrat Chris G. Perez has 23 years of experience as a private attorney.

2020 Primary Election Voter Information

Absentee in-person voting

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., through Friday, May 29; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, May 30

Where: Valencia County Administration Building, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas

Early voting

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., through Saturday, May 30


• Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane, Belen

• Bosque Farms Public Library, 1455 W. Bosque Loop, Bosque Farms

• Valencia County Administration Building, 444 Luna Ave., in Los Lunas

Voting Convenience Centers

When: 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, June 2


• Belen Community Center, 305 Eagle Lane, Belen

• Bosque Farms Public Library, 1455 W. Bosque Loop, Bosque Farms

• Del Rio Senior Center, 351 Rio Communities Blvd., Rio Communities

• Manzano Vista Fire Department, 311 El Cerro Mission Road, Los Lunas

• Pueblo of Isleta Veterans Center, 4001 N.M. 314, Isleta

• Valencia County Administration Offices, 444 Luna Ave., Los Lunas

What’s your Reaction?

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.