Belen elects new mayor

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Jerah Cordova has been elected to be the next mayor of the city of Belen. With 55 percent of the vote, the 30-year-old Hub City native, beat out Wayne Gallegos, who received 45 percent of the vote.

Cordova, who is an investigator for ADC LTD NM and who has been on the city council for four years, received a total of 572 votes. Gallegos, a retired Belen fire chief and who is in the middle of his second term on the council, garnered 477 votes.

Jerah Cordova Mayor-elect

“I want to thank the people of Belen in their confidence and support of me,” Cordova said. “The city needs to move in a better direction and I’m ready to take the city in that direction.”

Cordova, who just might be the youngest candidate elected as mayor of Belen, will replace outgoing Mayor Rudy Jaramillo, who didn’t seek re-election.

Gallegos, who will remain on the council, congratulated Cordova on running a “good, clean race. It’s been quiet. I look forward to supporting him and will push on as a team.”

Frank Ortega and Darleen Aragon were both elected to the Belen City Council, with Ortega receiving the majority of the votes, 550, and Aragon garnering 488 votes.

Ortega previously sat on the council from 1992 to 1996.

“I just want to thank everyone, everybody who came out to help us and the constituents,” said Ortega, who retired last year after more than 44 years with Belen Schools. “It’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”

Aragon, an advertising representative with the News-Bulletin and a political newcomer, said she is thankful for everyone who worked to help get her into office.

“I will work hard to make Belen the best place to live and work,” Aragon said. “I will strive for us to have a better quality of life and bring in new business.”

Audrey Vallejos, the incumbent city councilor who was appointed to the position eight months ago after Mary Aragon resigned, lost her bid to remain on the council, garnering a total of 473 votes, or 31 percent of the vote.

“I just want to say thank you to all those who supported me,” said Vallejos, a retired Belen city clerk. “I’m still going to be active, being part of the audience. You have to be proactive as a citizen.”

In the judge’s race, incumbent Kathy Savilla won her re-election bid, garnering 480 votes, or 46 percent. Savilla, who has been in office for 12 years, was grateful for the election results.

“Today you have cast your vote for who you thought was the best candidate,” Savilla said. “You have placed your trust in me once again, and once again I am humbled for the privilege to serve you to the best of my ability. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Her challengers, Gilbert Garcia, a local business owner, received 305 votes, and Ernest Benji Torres, a maintenance tech with Belen Schools, got 256 votes.

Garcia, who wanted to thank his supporters, said his campaign made a good effort.

“Democracy worked,” Garcia said. “Support the people you elected and hold them accountable.”

“I’m not a sore loser,” Torres said. “Let the people speak.”

With 5,013 eligible voters in Belen, a total of 1,055 voters cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. There were 234 residents who voted early, while 46 voted by absentee ballot.


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