TUES: Here's what is on the ballot across New Mexico on Election Day 2023
The 2023 election will reshape the Albuquerque City Council - By Nash Jones, KUNM News
Today’s election will reshape the Albuquerque City Council, with four of nine seats up for grabs. The last election saw it inch to the right — a balance that could shift again this year.
Republican Brook Bassan of District 4 is the only incumbent running. Abby Foster is looking to unseat the first-term councilor and restore the Democrats’ former supermajority.
Another Republican seat on the ballot is District 8, where Trudy Jones has served four terms. Voters are deciding between Democrat and former state lawmaker Idalia Lehuga-Tena and Republican retired police officer Daniel Champine.
Democrat Pat Davis is also giving up his seat in District 6. Everyone vying for it is a Democrat, including Kristin Greene, Jeff Hoehn and Nichole Rogers. Candidate Abel Otero suspended his campaign last month, though appears on the ballot.
Democrat Issac Benton isn’t running again for the Downtown seat he’s held for nearly two decades, and neither is any Republican. Democrats Loretta Naranjo Lopez and Joaquin Baca are up against Independent Moises Gonzalez in District 2.
The future of affordable housing is up for a vote in the Los Ranchos mayoral race - By Nash Jones, KUNM News
One of 38 mayoral races across New Mexico today is taking place in Los Ranchos. The semi-rural community is an expensive place to live, and the affordability of housing is playing a key role in the four-way contest.
Candidate Joe Craig is an outspoken opponent of the Village Center Project — a three story affordable housing complex under construction. He says there isn’t enough parking planned and that dense housing will hurt local businesses in the quaint village.
Incumbent mayor Don Lopez says the project is an effort to welcome younger people and retirees looking to downsize. In response to the pushback, he promises to better engage the community on agreeable affordability solutions.
Challenger Gilbert Benavides says there isn’t a lot to be done about the high cost of living in Los Ranchos, though says smaller-scale affordable housing would be a better fit.
Candidate George Radnovich worked on the Village Center Project as a landscape architect. He says he tried to make the best of an “already problematic situation,” and that the amount of village housing accessible to younger people should be “relative.”
Santa Fe City Council races revolve around history, housing and safety - By Alice Fordham, KUNM News
In Santa Fe, voters are deciding on half of the seats on the city council. Campaigns have debated affordable housing, public safety and replacing monuments
One city council seat in each of Santa Fe's four districts is up for grabs.
In District 1, the current councilor, community planner Renee Villareal, is standing down after two terms. She's supporting local organizer and café owner Alma Castro to take the seat. Castro told the Santa Fe Reporter that on the difficult question of how to replace a controversial obelisk removed from the Santa Fe Plaza, that she would like to see a ground-level mosaic, and a veterans' monument located elsewhere. She faces three other opponents in that race, including Katherine Rivera who has returned to Santa Fe after a career in business and says Santa Fe has a growing crime problem she wants to address. With four candidates, that race will be decided in a ranked-choice voting system.
In the other districts, two candidates each are running. In District 2, Phillip Allen Lucero is contesting the incumbent Michael Garcia. During the campaign, Lucero alleged in a video that Garcia abstained from 23 votes during his time in office. Garcia told the Santa Fe Reporter that he only abstained during committee meetings and voted in favor of several of the initiatives during governing body meetings.
In District 3, current councilor Chris Rivera is stepping down. Former police officer Louis Carlos is running, promising an aggressive approach to criminal activity. His opponent is Planning Commission member Pilar Faulkner who says she will advocate for better services on the city's Southside.
And in District 4, incumbent Jamie Cassutt, who co-sponsored a ballot measure widely known as the mansion tax, is facing security officer Joel Nava, the only Republican to run for city council. He told the Santa Fe New Mexican he supports the proposed tax on high-end home sales, and wants to tax short-term rentals, too.
Abortion battle colors Edgewood commission races - By Alice Fordham, KUNM News
In the town of Edgewood, three out of five commissioner seats are up for election on November 7.
Edgewood's commissioners decided by four votes to one in April to pass an ordinance restricting access to abortion, despite ongoing debate over the legality of such a move.
One of the commissioners who voted in favor, Jerry Powers, is running for reelection unopposed. Another, Sterling Donner, is opposed by two candidates, Mary Kozik and Michael Peters, who both told KUNM they would not have voted for the anti-abortion ordinance. The third seat is being vacated by former mayor Audrey Jaramillo. She supported the anti-abortion ordinance. The two candidates vying to replace her, Patrick Milligan and Colin Clausen, did not respond to queries on their stance on the abortion decision.
Citizens who also opposed the ordinance earlier this year collected signatures for a petition, and hoped to get the question on the ballot for people to vote on. But a representative of the Secretary of State's office said that it was not possible to put it on the ballot, because it would not have had legal weight as local authorities cannot regulate healthcare.
Climate, housing issues top of mind for Taos town council, Ski Valley mayor & council elections - By Bryce Dix, KUNM News
The Village of Taos Ski Valley will be voting on a new mayor and two council members.
Vying for the mayorship is Henry Caldwell, a resident of the Taos Ski Valley for more than 20 years. He served on the village council for a year and, before that, held a seat with the Planning and Zoning Commission, Tax Increment Development District (TIDD), Lodger’s Tax Board, Public Safety Committee and Fire Wise Committee.
His challenger is Christopher Stanek –– a fairly new face to village governance. He’s a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where he researches energy and climate issues.
Candidates for two at-large village councilor positions that will tackle the question of ski area expansions and water use from the Rio Hondo
include incumbents Richard Brent Knox and Thomas Wittman, and newcomers Benjamin Cook and Doug Turner.
The town of Taos is also looking for two fresh council members. Competing to fill those positions are incumbent Darien Fernandez, Bill Romero, and Genevieve Oswald. At a forum by the Taos News, Fernandez touted his record serving since 2016 and his connections with state and federal officials.
Oswald emphasized issues around housing, economic diversification and climate, and the need to break down divisions. Romero called for better communication with the public and building teamwork among the council and staff.
Four candidates challenge Socorro mayor seeking ninth term – By Megan Kamerick, KUNM News
Ravi Bhasker has been the mayor of Socorro for 33 years and he wants another term. But he’s facing four challengers.
City Councilor Mary Ann Chavez-Lopez, filmmaker and entrepreneur Jim Burleson, health care executive Juan JC Trujillo and Ignacio Chavez are running against Bhasker.
At a mayoral debate in October, candidates said they wanted more economic development and raised questions about the mayor’s plans to have the city buy the local electric cooperative. Bhasker dispelled rumors about his health, despite a ruptured appendix last year. He touted the low tax rates and cost of living in Socorro, as well as highway and broadband projects.
Burleson is a supporter of gun rights, and on his campaign website he said he will prioritize parks and recreation, and economic development through the film industry and other projects.
Trujillo previously served on the school board, and on his website focuses on workforce and economic development. Chavez-Lopez, who also directs the El Camino Housing Authority, told the El Defensor-Chieftain she would focus on economic development and problems with drugs and homelessness.
Ignacio Chavez was not at the candidate forum and apparently does not have a campaign site.
Infrastructure at the center of Los Lunas mayor race - By Jeanette DeDios, KUNM News
In Los Lunas, voters are deciding between former Republican State Representative Alonza Baldonado and incumbent Charles Griego.
The lack of planning and construction for the up-and-coming village of Las Lunas is what both candidates plan to address if they are elected.
On top of addressing the lack of infrastructure, Baldonado wants to tackle crime reduction, and find solutions for homelessness.
Two-time elected mayor Griego also wants to complete infrastructure efforts on the newly funded interchange and bridge. He toldthe Valencia County News-Bulletin with the recent collapse of the drainage structure near the new bridge, there’s a more urgent need for a second crossing.
Baldonado is currently a self-employed real estate broker and Griego owns and operates Heritage Title in Los Lunas.
Eight candidates running for Albuquerque Public Schools Board -By Taylor Velazquez, KUNM News
Eight candidates will be vying for three seats on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board as the district has struggled with falling test scores, teacher shortages, and enrollment declines.
The District 1 seat covers Atrisco Heritage Academy and Rio Grande high schools and has three candidates. Janelle Jamie Astorga is an advocate for mental health and wants to increase bilingual classes. Verland Coker is a substitute teacher who supports the community school model. And Robert Trujillo says he supports the existing Goals and Guardrails program of APS to focus on student outcomes.
The District 2 seat area includes Cibola and Volcano Vista high schools. Incumbent Peggy Muller Aragon is seeking re-election and has the support of the controversial parental rights group Moms for Liberty. Her challengers are Ronalda Tome-Warito, an advocate for students with disabilities, and Adrian Nogales, a 6th grade social studies teacher who has raised concerns about gun violence and teacher shortages.
District 4 covers the Southeast Heights, including Highland High School. The candidates are Heather Benavidez who is backed by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation and is focused on ensuring all children have a safe and equitable learning environment, and Stephen Cecco who says he will prioritize student success and parent engagement. Cecco has received support from Moms for Liberty and says the current education system in New Mexico is taking away parents' rights
Culture wars show up in nonpartisan Santa Fe Schools race – By Taylor Velazquez, KUNM News
There's just one competitive race in the Santa Fe Public Schools Board in this local election. Three candidates will be vying for the District 2 seat that covers the south side of the city.
The non-partisan race has become contentious as the controversial parental rights group Moms for Liberty is supporting Patricia Vigil-Stockton, who shares concerns with the group about what books are available to students. Vigil-Stockon has also promised to improve transparency and communication with the public and has received an endorsement from the Santa Fe County Republican Party.
Candidate John McKenna has also said he would support removing “anti-American” books from schools, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican, including The 1619 Project. He’s a former teacher and has expressed support for local control for schools.
The district is currently represented by Sarah Boses who is seeking re-election and says she's committed to comprehensive health and wellness for students and staff, school safety, and working with community partners.
Incumbents in Districts 1 and 4 are running unopposed.
Rio Rancho voters to fill two school board seats and decide on bonds – By Taylor Velazquez, KUNM News
In the Rio Rancho Public Schools Board race, three candidates will be vying for two seats on the board. District 2 incumbent Amanda Galbraith, president of the board, is running unopposed.
In District 4, Ramon Montaño is a former school board member who says he’s concerned about past budget decisions that aimed to ensure better student outcomes. He wants more transparency on spending.
Beth Miller has an extensive administration background at the University of New Mexico’s Gallup campus. She told the Rio Rancho Observer she’s a strong supporter of career-technical programs.
Rio Rancho voters will also see two bond questions on their ballot. The Sandoval Signpost reports one bond project would allocate $80 million over four years, for the Rio Rancho school system. That would go towards initiatives like increased security, building repairs and upgrades, more special education services and a new alternative high school.
The other bond called SB-9 is the public schools capital improvements tax and would generate $5 million annually over the next six years under state legislation that creates a cost-sharing formula.
Neither bond would increase tax rates and supporters include the Rio Rancho Chamber of Commerce.
What voters can expect for Albuquerque’s bond initiatives - By Bryce Dix, KUNM News
Voters in Albuquerque will be deciding on 7 municipal bond measures this election cycle.
The first bond on the list would ask voters to approve $25 million for the sole purpose of public safety, with Albuquerque Fire Rescue receiving the biggest chunk – around $8 million – for new fire stations and fire truck replacements.
Albuquerque’s Police Department would get $6 million to upgrade their facilities and equipment.
Next up is the housing, redevelopment and community enhancement bond. Totalling $35 million, the initiative plans to fund affordable housing, resources for the unhoused, and community centers, among other things.
Another would tackle public facilities and resource conservation. That bond would cost just over $24 million to modernize infrastructure while prioritizing water and energy efficiency upgrades.
Moving on, the largest bond measureon the ballot asks for $50 million to improve the city’s streets and transportation. That includes medians, roadways, public transportation, trails, bridges and bikeways.
The remaining three bonds upgrade the city’s parks and recreational facilities, storm drainage systems, and fund public libraries, museums, and cultural facilities.
City bonds are paid for by property taxes, though approval of this year’s bonds won’t increase the current tax rate.
Santa Fe ballot initiatives could make it easier to put issues directly to voters - By Jeanette DeDios, KUNM News
Santa Fe residents will vote on three initiatives Tuesday.
One would lower the number of signatures required to place an initiative or referendum on the ballot from 33% of voters to 15%. The signers would have to be registered voters who cast ballots in the last mayoral election.
Another related ballot question is asking whether the required number of signatures for referenda and initiatives must continue to be based on the number of voters who cast ballots for mayor in the last election, or if the city should count any voter who cast a ballot in the last election that included the office of mayor. That would include voters who didn’t pick a candidate for mayor.
Lastly, the city appoints a charter review commission every 10 years to consider changes to the city’s charter, or local constitution. The initiative is asking that the commission be appointed by a body of government, be able to elect its own leadership and receive a budget and staff adequate for its function.
‘Mansion tax’ would funnel money to Santa Fe affordable housing - By Megan Myscofski, KUNM News
Santa Fe residents are voting this Election Day on what’s been called a “mansion tax” or an excise tax on buyers of homes over $1 million. The money will go to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The tax would be 3% on the amount a buyer pays over $1 million. So, if a home costs $1.1 million, the buyer would pay $3,000.
Supporters of the tax, like Mayor Alan Webber and Office of Affordable Housing Director Alexandra Ladd, say the funds will increase the money that goes into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and make it more consistent.
Opponents of the tax, which includes the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, say there are other ways to raise the money, such as using taxes from short-term rentals.
Santa Fe Community College bond would bring $23 million for renovations - By Alice Fordham, KUNM News
Santa Fe Community College says it needs voters to support a general obligation bond on the ballot that would pay for urgently needed repairs like peeling stucco that the college's general fund doesn't cover.
In a recent newsletter from the college, the proposed $23 million bond was described not as being about creating new spaces, but about reimagining, renewing and rehabilitating existing spaces. In addition to building renovations like fixing stucco, money would be assigned to the areas of greatest need according to a master plan produced in 2021 which emphasized the importance of improvements to technology and the need for a sustainability plan.
The newsletter emphasized that although the funding would come from property taxes, it would not increase those tax rates, and would in fact slightly decrease them.
Schools seek the renewal of taxes supporting Santa Fe schools - By Megan Myscofski, KUNM News
Santa Fe voters will see two tax questions on their ballots this Election Day related to school funding. Both are renewals of existing taxes.
The Santa Fe Public Schools proposed tax, levy and lease purchase would bring in $55 million over five years by continuing an existing $1.50 tax for every $1,000 of taxable property value.
The tax would keep funding technology in Santa Fe public and charter schools, including providing devices for all students, hiring digital learning coaches, training teachers and paying for Wi-Fi on buses.
The Schools Improvement Act Tax has been going for a decade and provides funds for Santa Fe Public Schools to pay for repairs, maintenance and custodial work. It’ll also cover security upgrades and work to make facilities compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The tax is $2 per $1000 of taxable property value.