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Nine New Mexico mayors keep their jobs, four defeated in municipal elections


Ten cities, towns and villages in New Mexico will have a new face in the mayor’s office next month after Tuesday’s municipal elections, with residents in four communities voting out their current executive. Nine mayors were reelected, according to unofficial results.

The largest municipality that held a March election is Rio Rancho, where Gregg Hull was reelected for a third term with 68% of the vote, beating out challenger Barbara Jordan, the first African American mayoral candidate in the city’s history, and Jaclyn Wilhite.

Other incumbents reelected Tuesday include Bernalillo Mayor Jack Torres, who will serve his fourth term, and Neal King, the mayor of Taos Ski Valley. Additionally, Felix Gonzales of Milan and Ronald Jackson of Portales were reelected in their contests. Incumbents Jerry Bradley of Texico, Lynn Crawford of Ruidoso, Durward Dixon of Elida, and Steve Lucero of San Ysidro all ran unopposed.

Incumbents lost in four of the local races, including Taos, Española, Roswell and Questa, where current village councilor John Anthony Ortega beat out Mayor Mark Ortega with 53% of the vote.

In Española, 26-year-old City Councilor John Ramon Vigil is slated to take over as mayor after defeating incumbent Javier Sanchez in a close race with 52% of the vote.

Two-term Taos mayor, Dan Barrone, also came up short in his race against Councilor Pascualito Maestas. Former state Senator Timothy Jennings eked out a 1% victory in Roswell’s mayoral race over two-term incumbent Dennis Kintigh.

Mayors-elect in races where the sitting mayor didn’t run include Corrales’ Jim Fahey, Cuba’s Denny Herrera, Santa Rosa’s Nelson Kotiar and Jonathan Henry of Artesia. Chama Village Councilor Ernest Vigil ran unopposed in the mayoral race there.

The race in Grants is likely heading for a recount, with only 8 votes separating the top two finishers – City Councilor Erik Garcia with 528 votes and former state Senator Clemente Sanchez with 520, according to unofficial results. State statute requires automatic recounts when the race is close enough. The margin needed under 1 percentage point varies depending on the type of race.

Four-year terms for the mayors elected this month will begin April 1.

This story is part of our Your New Mexico Government project, a collaboration between KUNM and New Mexico PBS. Support for public media provided by the Thornburg Foundation.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays on KUNM, 5-7 p.m. MT). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.