33 candidates file for 2014 municipal elections


A total of 33 candidates filed the necessary paperwork declaring their candidacies for various seats within the governing bodies of their respective municipalities on Tuesday.

Voters in Belen, Los Lunas and Rio Communities will elect a mayor, two councilors and a municipal judge. Those in Peralta will elect three councilors, and in Bosque Farms, voters will go to the polls to choose two councilors.

Two sitting city councilors are vying for the mayor's position in Belen. Both Jerah Cordova, an investigator for ADC LTD NM, and Wayne Gallegos, a retired fire chief, are running for mayor.

Belen Mayor Rudy Jaramillo decided not to run for re-election.

Three Hub city residents are running for two council seats. Audrey Vallejos, who was appointed to one of the two council seats two years ago and is a retired Belen city deputy clerk, will be running against Darleen Aragon, a sales consultant for the Valencia County News-Bulletin, and Frank Ortega, a former city councilor and a retired Belen Schools maintenance supervisor.

The top two vote getters will be elected to the council, one of which will be replacing Cordova, who is giving up his seat to run for mayor.

Belen Municipal Judge Kathy Savilla, who was first elected in 2002, has two challengers in this year's race. Gilbert Garcia, a former city councilor and a local businessman, and Ernest Benji Torres, a former city councilor who works in the maintenance department for Belen Schools, are also running for the office.

In the Los Lunas municipal elections, incumbent Mayor Robert Vialpando is running for re-election. Vialpando, who owns a local sign business, is being challenged by District 2 Councilor Charles Griego, the manager of Heritage Title of Valencia County, and who will be leaving his council seat.

Vialpando was appointed mayor by the council in 2010, then he was elected for a four-year term. He also served on the council for a total of five terms.

Griego has served on the council for eight terms.

The District 2 seat is being sought by Lawrence T. Valenzuela, a general contractor at LAV Construction and Septic LTD; Paul Gabriel Luna, a GIS operator at the Valencia County assessor's office; and Gino Romero, a sales executive with Micros Systems, Inc.

District 4 Councilor Richard Lovato, a retired engineer from The Larkin Group, a private consulting company, is running for re-election. He was appointed to the council in 2010 and was elected to a four-year term.

He is being challenged by Paulette S. Montoya, a records manager with the New Mexico Department of Corrections and a customer service manager at Walmart in Los Lunas.

Four candidates filed for the Los Lunas municipal judge position, including incumbent Judge Henry Perea, who was appointed as municipal judge in 2012.

He is a former deputy chief at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center.

He will be running against Eulogio E.J. Jaramillo, a retired police officer and meat cutter at Smith's Food and Drugs and who has served as alternate judge for 10 years; Frank Alex Gonzales Jr., an electrician foreman; and Avilio Chavez, a small business owner and driver's education/traffic school instructor.

After taking office less than a year ago, the mayor, two city councilors and the judge in Rio Communities are set to run for re-election of the state's newest municipality.

But they're not going unchallenged.

Mayor Mark Gwinn, who is a retired superintendent of operations for BNSF, will run against Michael Vallejos, the co-owner of High Desert Industrial, for the mayor's position.

Current councilors Frank Stasi, a painting contractor who is semi-retired, and Cyndi Sluder, the past executive director of Tierra Bonita and co-founder of Let's Move That Food, will have two challengers to their seats.

John W. Pope, a former district court judge; and Richard Garcia, who retired from law enforcement, are running for the two open council seats.

Municipal Judge Heather Benavidez, a trial court administrative assistant in the 13th Judicial District Court, is being challenged by George Moscona, a licensed counselor at Belen Middle School.

Three council seats are up for grabs in Peralta.

Usually, there would only be two, but due to the mid-term replacement of former councilor Ginger Shoemaker, there is a two-year term on the ballot.

Councilor Kori Taylor, who was appointed to replace Shoemaker in September, is the only candidate running for the two-year seat.

She is a retired senior appraiser who previously worked for the Valencia County Assessor's Department.

Three candidates, including two incumbents, are going head-to-head-to-head in the race for the two four-year seats.

Incumbents Michael Leon Otero and Joseph Romero are both running for their third terms.

The third candidate is Paul Kinzelman, a retired pilot and flight instructor.

Otero is the owner of Joe's Pharmacy in Peralta, and Romero is an engineer with the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Of the three candidates for the four-year seat, the top two vote getters will be elected to the council.

The two incumbent councilors are the only candidates making a run in Bosque Farms this election season.

William Kennedy has served on the village council for two terms and is running for his third. He was also an appointee to the planning and zoning commission for two years. Kennedy is in truck parts and service sales.

Running for his second term on the council is Russell Walkup, a database administrator. Walkup's 2010 election to the council was his first foray into politics.

Today, at 5:01 p.m., candidates will draw for ballot positions at their respective municipal clerk offices.

They have until Jan. 14 to withdraw their candidacy, the same day write-in candidates must file.

Absentee voting begins on Jan. 28 and ends on Feb. 28.

If residents are not registered to vote, they must do so to vote in the municipal elections at the Valencia County Clerk's office by Feb. 4.

Early voting by machine begins on Feb. 12 and closes on Feb. 28.

Election Day is Tuesday, March 4, and election results will be canvassed at the five city halls on March 7.

Elected officials must take the oath of office by 7 p.m., March 14.