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Municipal, local elections see low turnout

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Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

Voters say yes to school bonds

Voters have passed two school bond issues for Chaves County schools, and they have elected 22 people from the county to office, according to unofficial election results posted to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website.

The 2019 local elections for municipalities, school districts and soil and water conservation boards did not see much of a turnout, Chaves County Clerk Dave Kunko said, but otherwise went well.

“We feel like it went very smoothly for the most part,” he said. “We had some small things happen with people not showing up on the voter roll, and so we had to figure out why it wasn’t showing up at the polling place. We got those things figured out pretty quickly. The one thing I am disappointed in is that we probably didn’t even hit 10% of the eligible voters.”

The final voter count on Election Day on Tuesday was 2,919 out of a total of 33,060 registered.

Kunko added that the county had about 26 people register during the early voting period, which was allowed in the state for the first time this year. He said that the extended registration period probably helped individual voters, but that it did not seem to boost voter participation as a whole.

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The unofficial results from the election are due to be reviewed and expected to be ratified Nov. 12 by the Chaves County Board of Commissioners, which also serves as the Chaves County Canvassing Board. They meet at 2 p.m. in the Chaves County Administrative Center.

School Bonds

Dexter and Hagerman both sought voter approval for new general obligation bond issues, with both districts seeing their measures pass by substantial margins.

Neither bond issue will increase property taxes in their districts, because the new bonds will replace existing debt that will retire.

Dexter asked voters for $2.5 million for improvements and repairs to buildings, grounds and equipment. The bonds passed with 159 people, or 86.41%, voting for them, and 25, or 13.59%, voting against them.

A top priority for the funding is upgrading the heating, air conditioning and ventilation in Lewis Gym, the high school cafeteria and the middle school gym. Other district needs include remodeling and upgrading the middle school and elementary school, relocating the middle school library, improving athletic facilities, adding shade structures for the elementary playground and upgrading technology, computer labs and interactive devices.

Hagerman Municipal Schools asked voters to approve $800,000 in bonds, and they did so by voting 78-19 for the measure, or 80.41% to 19.59%.

Superintendent Rick Williams said that building upgrades are the top priority, with interior and exterior improvements to the middle school slated as the first items on the agenda.

School Boards

Outside of Roswell, the Chaves County school districts with board members on the ballot were Dexter Consolidated Schools, Hagerman Municipal Schools and Lake Arthur Municipal Schools. (Some Chaves County residents also were eligible to vote for the Elida and Tatum school board elections, but those districts are based in other counties.)

Dexter had the most competitive contests, with six people running for three at-large positions, and its voters chose to put three new members on the board: James Salas (153 votes, 31.48%), Andrea Wenner McGarrah (103 votes, 21.19%) and Kristie Regalado (66, 13.58%).

The total of 486 votes cast for board members was out of 1,042 registered voters.

Voters for Hagerman schools returned two members to the board. Destry Moss, current board vice president and Position 3 officeholder, defeated Jerry Flores, 57-43, or 57% to 43%. Jeniffer Salazar, who was appointed to the board, Position 4, in November and ran unopposed for the remaining two years of the term, received 84 votes. Christopher Michael Pilley ran unopposed for Position 2 and received 87 votes.

Another position is also open on the board, but no one ran, so someone will be appointed to that position in January.

Lake Arthur Municipal Schools had three people run unopposed for four open positions. Cynthia Buck will return to complete the remaining two years of a term to which she was appointed. She received 36 votes. Edward Mario Rubio, the current board president who has served on the board for about 20 years, was elected to another four-year term with 39 votes. Incumbent Gene Albert Basset received 34 votes to return to the board.

The fourth position will be appointed after the new board begins its service in January.

Municipal Elections

Hagerman voters returned two incumbents to office. Municipal Judge Maria D. Ordonez was re-elected with 52 votes. For city council, only one person ran for two open positions. Incumbent Mark A. Lovas received 53 votes.

Lake Arthur voters were deciding on city council positions and their municipal judge.

Following the decision of incumbent judge Tabitha Salazar not to run again, two write-ins vied for the position. Noreen Margaret Teel won by four votes, 14-10, over opponent Lupe P. Salmon.

Three positions were open for city council, but only two write-in candidates signed up for the contest. Harry Lewis Wesson received 11 votes. John Robert Teel got 7 votes. The third city councilor will be appointed in January.

Soil and Water Conservation Boards

All Chaves County candidates for area soil and water conservation boards ran unopposed and were voted in.

The Chaves Soil & Water Conservation Board supervisors are Joe D. Barraza, Supervisor 1 (1,858 votes); Doug M. Whitney, Supervisor 2, (1,898 votes); and Jerry E. Vaz, Supervisor 5 (1,762 votes).

Hagerman-Dexter Soil & Water Conservation Board members will be Stuart McKnight Bogle, Supervisor 1 (255 votes); Trevor E. Gray, Supervisor 2 (241 votes); and Robert Edwin Jolley, Supervisor 5 (223 votes).

The Penasco Soil & Water Conservation Board had three supervisor positions open, including one for Chaves County. Tom W. Runyan was elected with 43 votes.

The Cottonwood-Walnut Creek Watershed Board had two supervisor positions open, with one for Chaves County. Dwight W. Menefee received 30 votes.

While three other soil and water conservation boards had elections, none of their candidates this time were from Chaves County.

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 311, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.