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Mayoral hopefuls seek spot on ballot

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Five mayoral candidates on Saturday picked up the paperwork they need to launch campaigns to serve as chief executive of New Mexico’s largest city.

Among the hopefuls is former Albuquerque first lady Margaret Aragon de Chávez, who works as a professional development trainer for the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department.

The others are former City Councilor Pete Dinelli, incumbent Richard Berry, retired police Sgt. Paul Heh and Jay Flowers, an office worker for a law firm.

Saturday was the first day that mayoral candidates could pick up the petitions they must circulate to win a spot on the ballot. They need 3,000 signatures to appear on the Oct. 8 ballot. The deadline to turn in the petitions is March 31, so there is still plenty of time for other candidates to enter the race.

Two candidates, Dinelli and Heh, also picked up paperwork for public financing of their campaigns. They will need to gather $5 contributions from 3,621 people to qualify. If successful, they’d get roughly $362,000 in city funds to run their campaigns.

The system is voluntary, and Berry has said he will accept private donations for his campaign.

Albuquerque city elections are nonpartisan, meaning party affiliation won’t appear on the ballot, and there won’t be primary elections to narrow the field.

Instead, every candidate who qualifies for the ballot will compete in the Oct. 8 election. The one with the most votes will win, as long as he or she has at least 40 percent of the total vote.

There’s a special election under way, however, to change the requirement to 50 percent.

If no one gets the required percentage in the first round, a runoff election will be held in November with the top two candidates.

Dinelli, a Democrat, and Republicans Berry and Heh have formally launched campaigns.

Aragon de Chávez, a Democrat, hasn’t held a public announcement yet, but she said Saturday that she intends to run. She used to be married to Martin Chávez, who served three terms as mayor.

Aragon de Chávez said she waited nine years to run for mayor “because I had to raise my kids. That was my first priority. I would never run against their father.”

Flowers is a Republican.

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