In case you missed it, there is an election Tuesday. Many elections, in fact.
The first-ever consolidated local elections are taking place across New Mexico, including in Santa Fe. The hope is that by bringing together everything from City Council races to local school board or college governing board contests, more citizens will show up and be counted.
The change was ordered by the Local Election Act of 2018, and we trust that eventually, New Mexico voters will become accustomed to showing up at the polls every second Tuesday in November. This year, it is an election close to home. Next year, voters will be choosing a president and U.S. senator at the top of what will be a lengthy ballot.
The first year, however, has been somewhat low-key, with contests for Santa Fe City Council subdued and the hottest local race likely between incumbent Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education member Steven Carrillo versus challenger Carmen Gonzales. That’s judging by letters to the editor, anyway.
In addition to the race for municipal judge, unopposed; four City Council seats, two unopposed; three school board seats, one unopposed; and two contested seats on the Santa Fe Community College Governing Board, areas around Santa Fe also will be voting.
Pojoaque and Española have races for school board and ballot questions about capital improvements for schools. These are important questions for the residents of these districts. Voters up north also will be able to improve their communities through ballot initiatives, including a proposed $12 million bond to build a nursing home in Rio Arriba County and a mill levy for Northern New Mexico College that would direct $2.4 million to establish trade education programs. That would help increase the work force and improve the economy in Northern New Mexico. We hope voters are paying attention.
Around Santa Fe County, there also are contests for such things as soil and water conservation boards, depending on where a voter lives. Not all voters will have a contested council seat or water district race. But everyone gets to choose who they want for SFCC board. Best of all, voting takes place at convenience centers around the county, so people who did not choose to vote early can vote close to home or to work, depending on what works for them. Voting has seldom been so accessible.
Adding a slight wrinkle to the ballot in the city of Santa Fe is the presence of ranked-choice voting, but only for voters in the District 4 City Council race because there are three candidates running. Rather than picking just one favorite, voters in District 4 can rank their choices for council. Having that option allows voters to choose their favorites but have a backup if they choose. The winner will have more than 50 percent support, whether that happens in the first or final round of voting.
What matters the most is that citizens take this responsibility to heart and remember how precious the right to vote is for every American. The late U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, who died recently, never lost the opportunity to remind us that Americans have died for our right to vote. Not just overseas, fighting Nazis, but right here at home in the long struggle for civil rights in the South.
In February, when the Democratic House passed a wide-ranging bill on improving election security and ensuring voting rights, Cummings reminded Americans that, “There are efforts to stop people from voting. That’s not right.”
He went on to tell his fellow members of Congress — and the American people — of his mother’s deathbed words.
“One year ago today, on my mother’s dying bed, at 92 years old — former sharecropper — her last words were, ‘Do not let them take our votes away from us,’ ” Cummings said during the hearing. “They had fought. She had fought and seen people harmed, beaten, trying to vote. Talk about inalienable rights. Voting is crucial, and I don’t give a damn how you look at it.”
Yes, voting is crucial. Show up and be counted.
Here, once again, are The New Mexican’s endorsements in contested races on Tuesday. A list of voting convenience centers is available at www.santafenewmexican.com, or by going to the web site for the Santa Fe County Clerk, https://www.santafecountynm.gov/clerk.
Santa Fe City Council, District 2: Michael J. Garcia
Santa Fe City Council, District 4: Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez
Santa Fe School Board, District 1: Carmen Gonzales
Santa Fe School Board, District 2. Sarah Boses
Santa Fe Community College, Position 3: Jody Pugh
Santa Fe Community College, Position 5: Piér Quintana