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District judges retain positions in Tuesday’s election

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Unofficial election results indicate eight judges in the New Mexico 5th Judicial District and a court of appeals judge will retain their positions.

In New Mexico, once judges in district courts, the Court of Appeals and the state Supreme Court are elected, they do not have to run for election again but face periodic retention elections. To continue to serve, at least 57% of voters must choose to retain them.

District Court Judges James M. Hudson and Dustin K. Hunter, who primarily serve in Chaves County courts, were well ahead of that threshold. With all precincts reporting Wednesday, both judges had received 75% approval.

Calls to their offices for statements were not returned by press time.

Hudson, the Division 6 judge and chief district judge, was appointed to the bench in March 2013 and was elected in November 2014. Division 10 Judge Hunter was appointed in May 2016 and elected in November 2016.

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Other judges who serve elsewhere in the 5th Judicial District who were on the ballot for retention appeared to have met the requirement as well.

Completed returns showed Division 3 Judge William G. Shoobridge had 72% approval. Division 4 Judge Mark T. Sanchez and Division 5 Judge Jane Shuler Gray had 73%. Division 9 Judge Lisa B. Riley and Division 11 Judge Lee A. Kirksey received 75% approval.

All had received recommendations for retention from the New Mexico Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission.

For Division 7, 74% of voters approved of retaining Judge Michael Harold Stone. He has served for less than two years, so did not receive an evaluation from the commission.

In the Court of Appeals, with all 1,925 precincts reporting, 73% of voters gave approval for Jacqueline R. Medina to retain her seat. She has also served less than two years and did not receive an evaluation for recommendation.

Two judges in District 5 were running for election for the first time, each unopposed. Democrats Thomas E. Lilley was appointed Division 2 judge in April 2019, and Jared Garner Kallunki was appointed Divison 8 judge in February.

In other judicial elections, Democratic candidates had narrow leads over Republican contenders statewide, although Chaves County returns leaned to the GOP in those contests. With 1,925 precincts reporting, the unofficial results are as follows:

For Justice of the Supreme Court Position 1, Democrat Shannon Bacon defeated Ned S. Fuller 55% to 45%. Chaves County overwhelmingly voted for Republican Fuller 70% to 30%.

For Position 2 on the Supreme Court, Democrat David K. Thompson defeated Republican Kerry J. Morris statewide with 54% of the vote to Morris’ 46%. Again, Chaves County voters went for the Republican candidate, 71% to 29%.

In the Court of Appeals Position 1, Democrat Zach Ives defeated Republican Barbara V. Johnson by 37,024 votes or 53% to 47%. In Chaves County returns, 72% of voters chose Johnson over Ives.

Libertarian candidate for the Court of Appeals Position 2 Stephen P. Curtis garnered only 7% of the vote both statewide and in Chaves County, leaving that race between the two major parties. In statewide voting, Democrat Shammara H. Henderson defeated Republican Gertrude Lee 51% to 42%. In Chaves County, however, Lee took 65% of the vote to 28% for Henderson.

The Court of Appeals Position 3 race was tighter, with 25,863 votes separating the two candidates in the final tally. Democrat Jane B. Yohalem defeated Republican Thomas C. Montoya 51% to 49%. In Chaves County, Montoya received 72% of the vote to Yohalem’s 28%.

City/RISD reporter Juno Ogle can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or reporter04@rdrnews.com.

To keep up with coverage of this and other 2020 elections of local and regional interest, go to rdrnews.com/category/news/elections/.