Sanchez and Baldonado re-elected

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(Editor’s note: The numbers reported in this article are the unofficial numbers from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s office. Counties in some of the multi-county districts may still be counting provisional and in lieu of ballots.)

It was a good, good night for some candidates, Tuesday, while others fell short of their hopes of attaining public office.

In the closely watched State Senate District 29 race between Democratic incumbent Michael Sanchez and Republican David Chavez, Sanchez was able to recapture his seat, defeating Chavez by 1,478 votes district wide.

After this year’s redistricting, the district shifted north, taking in some voting precincts on Isleta Pueblo. District wide, Sanchez received 8,974 votes and Chavez 7,225. Here in Valencia County, Sanchez took 8,566 votes, while Chavez claimed 7,088

Sanchez said now that the election is over, he will be focusing on the positive things he can accomplish.

“As I walked the community, I met a lot of people, both Democrat and Republican,” Sanchez said. “And we have the greatest group of people here in Valencia County and Isleta in the state — bar none.

“I want the state to move forward, and our community. I want us to move forward and make this a better place for our children and grandchildren.”

Looking at the upcoming session, Sanchez said the biggest priority is setting a good, solid budget, as well as focusing on educational issues and funding for teachers’ salaries.

“We need to make sure working families can make a living wage, and we need to start working on health care,” he said. “We have the highest percentage of uninsured in the country and this administration hasn’t come forward with a plan for the new health care law that’s coming down from the federal level. I am hoping the administration wants to work with us.”

Sanchez said he would be pushing legislation on early childhood development to take care of the $16 billion available for programs.

“I want the people of Valencia County and Isleta to know that I greatly appreciate them allowing me to go to Santa Fe to represent them,” he said.

As for Chavez, he says life goes on. Even though he didn’t take the seat, Chavez said hopefully his presence in the race brought up discussion on important issues such as jobs, the economy, educational reform and the move to repeal driver’s licenses issued to people illegally residing in the country.

Chavez said that while those issues are statewide, there were also several Valencia County issues and projects that need to be kept in the forefront, such as the new bridge, proposed hospital and the BNSF intermodal port in Belen.

“The governor is going to be looking for big projects to look at for capital outlay, which is needed,” Chavez said. “We’ve got to finish projects around the state. There’s nearly $300 million in new money, I hear, but that’s going to be eaten up by a lot of programs like allocations for Medicaid, education, PERA and the lottery scholarships going insolvent.

“The Legislature has a lot of big challenges to resolve in meaningful way, rather than a temporary fix and shoring things up and waiting until the economy gets better.”

When asked if he ever saw himself running for public office again, Chavez replied, “Oh yes. I had over 7,000 voters pulling for me. That’s a huge amount of support people have shown. I just appreciate the opportunity of having served my leg; it was a privilege and honor to do so. Our family, from my dad, goes way back and will continue to be involved in the community. This is our community and we love living in Valencia County.”

Chavez wished Sanchez the best in the Senate and during the upcoming 60-day session.

“I hope he will work in a bipartisan fashion to get some these critical pieces of legislation through,” he said. “And I also want to say congratulations to all the candidates for running and giving voters a choice in who represents them.”

The Senate District 30 race was the third time and the charm for Democrat Clemente Sanchez. After coming up short after two recounts in two previous primary races, Clemente Sanchez finally walked away with a definitive victory.

Across the district, which includes Valencia, Socorro, Cibola and McKinley counties, Clemente Sanchez received 8,789 votes to Republican Vickie Perea’s 7,799.

Perea, a Los Lunas native, won Valencia County by 1,755 votes, but it wasn’t enough of an edge in the end.

Sanchez said the campaign went well, with volunteers working hard on the mostly grass roots effort.

“By meeting voters, people got to know me better. There is still some work because I am a little unknown with people,” Clemente Sanchez said. “I’m happy that we pulled it off but now the real work starts.”

Looking at the upcoming session, Clemente Sanchez said he would be learning and observing a lot, since this will be his first year in the Roundhouse.

“I want to focus on jobs and economic development for District 30 and the state of New Mexico,” he said. “I want to thank all the voters came out and supported me. Now that the election is over, it’s time to get to work and not worry about which party we belong to.”

Perea said it was an “excellent race” and was thrilled she took 59 percent of the Valencia County vote.

“That’s very encouraging since this is a Democratic district,” Perea said. “We fought well, with integrity and the best of intentions.”

Perea said she was proud to give the citizens of the district an option in this year’s election.

The State Representative District 7 saw the return of Democrat Andrew Barreras, who was ousted by David Chavez two years ago.

This wasn’t his year either. Barreras garnered 4,428 votes to Republican Kelly Farjardo’s 4,519, a difference of 91 votes.

Farjardo said she was exhausted, but very excited.

“I know I was the underdog as a Republican in a Democrat district,” Farjardo said. “We walked and talked everywhere. We started aggressively back in July. We did it the old fashioned way, literally door to door, which isn’t easy out here.”

Farjardo said there were many issues she ran on as a small business owner.

“The tax structure hurts small businesses,” she said. “They’ve made it so a mom and pop store can’t hire an extra person without hiring an accountant to figure it out. The Legislature got a lot done last session but there is still more to do. Nationally and in the state, we don’t cross party lines very often and we have to stop that.”

The new representative said she understands she could not have won the seat without crossover from Democrats, and is going to Santa Fe “knowing I represent the community across all demographic lines. I am so grateful and so humbled by all the support. I’m excited to go to Santa Fe and get to work.”

Barreras did not return requests for comment before News-Bulletin press time on Friday.

In District 8, incumbent Republican Alonzo Baldonado beat out Democratic challenger Frank Otero, 5,483 votes to 6,180.

Baldonado did not return requests for comment before News-Bulletin press time.

Otero said being in the race offered voters an alternative.

“We ran a clean professional race. It’s important not to be ‘dirty,’” Otero said.

The former Los Lunas Board of Education member said he could see himself running for the position again.

“If 5,483 people thought enough to vote for me, then it merits running again,” he said. “I really want to thank the people who supported me, who believed in me, held on and voted.”

In the 13th Judicial District Attorney race, Democrat incumbent Lemuel Martinez took the seat again, beating Republican Kenneth Fladager with 45,912 votes across the district to Fladager’s 39,413. Martinez also won Valencia County, 14,535 votes to 12,212.

In his next four years, Martinez said he is going to focus on white collar crime, training on law enforcement interrogation techniques for home invasions and robberies, so they can “hopefully catch more people doing those types of things, rather than letting insurance handle it all.”

His department will also continue with it’s child exploitation program that focuses on cyber bully, sexting and predatory use of the Internet.

“I am going to try to get the money back that we’ve lost over the last several years in the Legislature,” Martinez said. “The district has the two fastest growing cities, Rio Rancho and Los Lunas, and is the fastest growing district in state. We need to get back where we were for the district and for law enforcement. They were hurt as well.”

Republican James Lawrence Sanchez will be the newest judge for the 13th Judicial District Court, beating Democratic opponent LaDonna Giron, 43,156 votes to 41,260. Sanchez also won Valencia County, 14,492 to 12,160 votes.

“I am elated,” James Lawrence Sanchez said. “The race for judge is interesting because we have to run as partisans, but we are running for what is essentially a nonpartisan position. I am the first Republican judge to be elected in the district, so I take some joy in that.

“As a judge, you aren’t a Republican judge or a Democratic judge.” he said. “I am excited to serving the community.”

Giron thanked all the voters in the district for their support.

“I thoroughly enjoyed this,” Giron said. “I got to see our beautiful and diverse district, and large, large parts of central New Mexico. I am just grateful for the opportunity.”

Only two of the Valencia County offices had incumbents in the running — the county treasurer and commission District 5.

In the treasure’s race, incumbent Dorothy Otero Lovato, a Democrat, took on Republican Lorel L. Campbell, a Los Lunas accountant, for the second time in a row. Lovato received 14,505 votes, while Campbell garnered 12,201.

“I am really moved that the people of the county trusted me enough and believed in me enough to re-elect me,” Lovato said. “It’s an honor to serve the people of the county.”

Looking to the future, Lovato said the next challenge for the treasurer’s office is the upcoming software transition the county is undergoing.

“We are ready to move forward with that,” she said. “We are also going to really push the state property tax division in Santa Fe to work harder. They get our listings with all our delinquent accounts, then it’s up to them to sell the property so we get our taxes.”

County Commissioner District 5 Democrat Donald Holliday was re-elected to his second term, beating Republican challenger Republican Jhonathan Aragon. Holliday received 3,244 votes to Aragon’s 2,824.

“I am glad the people chose to elect me and put their trust in me for four more years,” Holliday said. “We are going to continue to work to resolve some of the issues that have been plaguing the county for years.

“I think we are doing a good job making progress, we have a good administration in place,” he said. “It’s just a matter of time and people will be amazed how good and efficient our county government can be. We have to work together, and I want to thank the constituents of District 5 for coming out in force and voting. I will do my damnedest not to let them down.”

Former county commissioner and local realtor Alicia Aguilar won the District 2 County Commission seat, with 2,266 votes. Republican challenger Rim Pruit received 1,738 votes.

Aguilar, who has been out of office for eight years, said her previous experience as a commissioner would be beneficial in her new term.

“Knowing the past, where we are in the present, will help,” Aguilar said. “I want to create unity in this community. As commissioners, we need to have respect for one another. We are five and should be respected equally and move forward positively.”

Aguilar thanked Pruitt for running a clean race and the people who supported and voted for her.

In District 4, Charles Eaton, a Democrat, beat Republican Jerry Don Gage, 3,274 to 2,098 votes. Eaton is the former county fire chief and served on the commission previously.

“We both ran a clean race and I appreciate it,” Eaton said. One of his first priorities will be to rebuild taxpayer confidence in the county and commission.

“We need to build some credibility,” Eaton said. “You want to be prudent when spending taxpayer money. I appreciate all the voters in district four. Even though we run in districts, we represent the county as a whole.”

The race for county clerk was back and forth all night as precincts reported in, but ultimately Republican Peggy Carabajal came out ahead. Right now, she is ahead of Democrat Lucy Gonzales by 32 votes, 13,413 to 14,381.

The mandatory recount statutes only apply to federal and state races, so if there is going to be a recount, the candidate will have to pay.

Carabajal thanked her opponent for running a good, clean race.

“It was close and I just want to thank my supporters and my opponent,” Carabajal said. “Election Day was very tense and it could have gone either way.”

The three general obligation bond questions and five constitutional amendments passed statewide as well as here in Valencia County.


-- Email the author at jdendinger@news-bulletin.com.