VSWCD election set for Tuesday

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If you haven't received your absentee ballot for the upcoming Valencia Soil and Water Conservation District election, don't worry — the polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 7.

On the ballot this year are two of the five elected board of supervisor seats — Joseph Moya, the Position 3 incumbent who is running unopposed, and in the Position 4 race where incumbent Teresa Smith de Cherif is challenged by Lawrence Sanchez.

The board has seven members total, five elected and two appointed. All supervisors serve on a volunteer basis and receive a monthly stipend of $35 to pay for travel costs to meetings and other incidentals associated with the position.

Under district policy, members have the option to turn the payment back to the district to cover the monthly premium for health insurance.

The district is a political subdivision of the state, and the board of supervisors meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month at Whitfield Wildlife Conservation Area Visitors' Center.

The district was organized in 1947 and covers more than 1.4 million acres. The heart of the district is Valencia County, but also takes in portions of Bernalillo, Cibola, Sandoval, Socorro and Torrance counties.

Also on the ballot is a 10 year, quarter mill levy to help support the programs offered by and operating costs of the district.

Board Members Abel Camarena and Charlie Sanchez Jr. briefly spoke to the village of Bosque Farms council last month. As a board, Camarena said, they are charged with the conservation and sustainability of natural resources in the district.

"But sources of funding are short," Camarena said.

Sanchez said the district wants to continue its efforts of bosque restoration that have been ongoing for the last 12 years.

"We have already probably spent more than $300,000 on work in the bosque from Veguita to Bosque Farms," Sanchez said.

If approved, the mill levy can be used to leverage funds from entities such as the New Mexico State Forestry Service, he said.

Sanchez said the district would like to target a 30-acre area just north of the Bosque Farms wastewater plant for more clearing of non-native plants and heavy fuel loads.

Other projects the board would like to pursue are working with the farming community on cost sharing efforts to remove invasive trees from along fence lines.

"We have a lot of problems with these but we need the support of the community with the mill levy," Sanchez said. "It will help a lot."

Camarena added that with the mill levy, the district will be able to work on programs on soil erosion prevention, protection of water and soil quality and noxious weeds.

"We fully appreciate the difficult economic times," he said. "We are dedicated to the effective use of these funds."

Camarena said, depending on collection rates, the district expected it to generate $340,000 in revenues during its lifetime.

To vote, residents must give their name and date of birth. All registered voters within the district are eligible to vote, regardless of whether they own property or not.


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