Tuesday’s municipal elections were a good night for four incumbents and one former councilor, who prevailed in several Roswell City Council races.
Five of the city’s 10 council seats were on the ballot in the nonpartisan election.
Jason Perry, a Baptist pastor at New Hope Baptist Church in Artesia, prevailed in a three-way race in Roswell’s Ward 2 for the seat now held by outgoing Councilor Steve Henderson. Henderson announced late last year he would not seek re-election to his seat in the north Roswell ward.
A former councilor who represented Ward 4 from 2003 to 2018, Perry received 929 votes in the race, according to unofficial results. His opponents Ed Heldenbrand and Bonnie Bitzer finished with 672 and 472 votes respectively.
“I am just grateful that the folks of Ward 2 have put their confidence in me,” Perry said.
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He added that many voters told him that his firm stance in favor of the Second Amendment was a factor in their support for him. During the race, Perry frequently spoke about how during his time on the Roswell City Council, he worked to make it possible for city employees with concealed-carry permits to carry a gun while on the job.
Perry also thanked his two challengers.
“We all ran good, clean campaigns, which is the way it should be,” he said.
Bitzer, a retired accountant and political newcomer, said Tuesday night she expected the race to turn out differently.
“I thought I would do better, I really did, because I had a lot of wonderful people working for me and I thought we ran an excellent campaign,” she said.
Nonetheless, Bitzer said she enjoyed being a candidate and meeting new people.
Heldenbrand, chief financial officer with the Krumland Auto Group, said he was happy to give voters another choice in Ward 1.
“The voters spoke, that is all I can say,” he said.
Juan Oropesa in Ward 1 and Barry Foster in Ward 5 both fended off challenges in their bids for reelection.
Oropesa eked out a victory over Cristina Arnold, 349 to 294 for a third term. He said he feels a sense of relief after a months-long campaign. He said his win was a team effort.
“I don’t consider this my victory, I consider this a victory for every single person that helped me in my election, and I consider it a victory for every single body that went out and took the time to go out and vote,” Oropesa said.
Arnold congratulated Oropesa and said she will continue to weigh in on issues involving the community.
“I am still going to be involved with the city and I am still going to be involved in the community, and I really hope that he (Oropesa) will be more proactive and more assertive in working with the city councilors and working with the city government to effectively get things done for Ward 1,” she said.
Foster beat out Oswaldo Vasquez Nava, 299 to 176.
Although his ward has 3,000 people, Foster said voter turnout was higher this election than it had been in a while.
“I am very thankful and I am grateful to the voters of Ward 5 for coming out and voting,” Foster said.
Nava, a criminal justice major at Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell and founder of the Facebook page Roswell Today, said he does not view his second-place finish as a loss and was glad to see the high voter turnout.
“That tells me people are getting more involved and I hope we get to a point where we will have much more candidates on the ballot,” he said.
Nava added he does not rule out another possible run for council in 2022.
Incumbents Jeanine Corn Best in Ward 3 and Savino Sanchez Jr. in Ward 4 were unopposed in their bids for re-election. Best finished with 1,002 votes and Sanchez received 790 votes in his race.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.