Tuesday is Election Day in Santa Fe County, and for the first time, city council and school board races are on the same ballot, thanks to a new state election law. County Clerk Geraldine Salazar said she is hopeful the consolidation of local races will increase voter turnout — though early turnout has been light.
According to a news release issued Monday by the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office, only 6,038 voters out of 100,999 who are registered in Santa Fe County — or nearly 6 percent — had cast early or absentee ballots and 29 were the result of same-day voter registration.
While a municipal judge, a school board member and two city councilors are walking to reelection Tuesday without a challenge, a handful of other candidates are running competitive races.
In Santa Fe Public Schools, outgoing board member Maureen Cashmon has put closing a trio of elementary schools on the board’s agenda for a meeting Wednesday, the day after the election. Three board members could join forces to move the measure forward: Cashmon; Lorraine Price, who is not up for reelection; and Rudy Garcia, who is running unopposed. But any decision Wednesday on whether to direct Superintendent Veronica García to begin the process of closing Acequia Madre, E.J. Martinez and Nava elementary schools could be overturned by a future board with.
That means the race for the school board’s District 2 seat between Sarah Boses and John Triolo could be critical. Boses said she categorically opposes closing schools and would instead vote to study inequality in the district and alternative solutions. Triolo has said budget concerns could force him to vote in favor of closing schools.
District 2 encompasses Eldorado and other neighborhoods south of Interstate 25.
In District 1, which covers downtown Santa Fe and nearby east-side schools, incumbent Steven Carrillo and challenger Carmen Gonzales both have said they are against closing schools.
In the race for Santa Fe City Council seats, only two of the four district races are competitive. Incumbent City Councilors Chris Rivera and Renee Villarreal are running unopposed. Incumbent Municipal Court Judge Virginia Vigil also doesn’t have opposition.
In southeast-side District 2, Alysia Lori Abbott, an archaeologist and former historic preservation planner for the city, is running against Michael J. Garcia, the state program director for the Corporation for National and Community Service.
The race for the District 4 on the city’s south side drew three candidates. Xavier Anderson, Jamie Cassutt-Sanchezand Greg Scargall will face off in the only ranked-choice city contest of this election cycle.
Two Santa Fe Community College governing board seats will be decided. In Position 3, Jody Pugh is running against Ruth Howes. Position 5 is a three-person race between Miguel Acosta, David Dannenberg and Piér Quintana.
In the Pojoaque Valley School District, incumbent Toby Velasquez will run unopposed in District 1. In District 2, Felix Benavidez faces off against incumbent Jeffrey Atencio, the current board vice president. In District 3, incumbent Fernando Quintana will face Adam Muller.
Voters in Pojoaque Valley and Española school districts will decide on separate 2-mill levies that will renew but not raise taxes in order to pay for technology and infrastructure upgrades. Both levies would cost property owners $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value, which is about one-third of a home’s market value.
Northern New Mexico College has put a new mill levy on the ballot for voters who live within the Española, Pojoaque, Mesa Vista, Chama Valley and Jemez Mountain public school districts.
If approved, the levy would generate $2.4 million annually in property tax revenue to benefit programs at the college. College President Rick Bailey said the tax revenue would help establish associate degree programs in plumbing and pipe fitting, as well as expand the school’s electrician program.
The levy, which would not expire, would cost the average homeowner $2 for each $1,000 of taxable property value. A homeowner with property assessed at $200,000 would therefore pay about $133 a year in taxes.