15 candidates file for first RC election

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A total of 15 candidates have filed the necessary paperwork to run for office in the first ever municipal election in Rio Communities.

Three residents are running for mayor, nine for city council and three for municipal judge.

Voters in Rio Communities elected to incorporate as the state's newest municipality by a vote of 672 in favor to 391 against in a January election.

The first municipal election is slated for Tuesday, May 14.

The three candidates running in the mayoral race are Mark Gwinn, Seth Lawrence Pfefferle and Michael Vallejos.

Gwinn, 61, who helped lead the efforts of the Rio Communities incorporation, retired from BNSF after 35 years of service; Pfefferle, 57, works as a clerk at Allsups in Rio Communities; and Vallejos, 46, is the co-owner of High Desert Industrial Supply.

The nine candidates who are running for the four council seats include Nella Guenther, Elizabeth Sagrestano, Frank Stasi, Helga Woerner, Mary Lee Serna, Paul DeWitt, Kaylon Northcutt, George Moscona and Cynthia Sluder.

Guenther, 74, worked for the State Department in Washington, D.C.; Sagrestano, 65, is a retired secretary, who worked at the Central New Mexico Correctional Facility in Los Lunas; and Stasi, 69, owns his own painting and drywall business.

Woerner, 76, is a retired full-charge bookkeeper; Serna, 68, retired as an adjudicator for the state of California Unemployment Insurance; and DeWitt, 66, is a van driver for Renzenberger and retired as the international sales manager for Cemco in 2007.

Northcutt, 48, was a respiratory therapist before becoming a stay-at-home dad; Moscona, 69, is a licensed professional counselor and a middle school counselor for Belen Schools; and Sluder, 52, is a wife, mother and caregiver.

The three candidates running for municipal judge are Mitchell Abeyta, Heather Benavidez and Syl Saavedra.

Abeyta, 23, works as a sorter for UPS and is a gas station attendant; Benavidez, 34, is a trial court administrative assistant at the 13th Judicial Valencia County Courthouse; and Saavedra, 68, is a retired educator.

Applications for absentee ballots are now available at the Valencia County Bureau of Elections, 444 Luna Ave., in Los Lunas.

Absentee voting will be held from Tuesday, April 9, to Friday, May 10. There will be no early voting, but absentee-in-person voting will be held at the bureau of elections through May 10.

The voter registration deadline in Tuesday, April 16.

Election Day is Tuesday, May 14, and polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 85 Manzano Expressway, in Rio Communities.

As of Wednesday, there are 3,640 registered voters, according to the bureau of elections.

A candidate meet-and-greet event will be held during the Rio Communities Association meeting at 7 p.m., Tuesday, March 26, at the Del Rio Senior Center.


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