Voters in Rio Rancho have continued the momentum launched in the 2012 municipal election by backing two conservative candidates in runoff elections Tuesday.
Gregg Hull was far and away the winner in the mayoral runoff against Mike Williams, winning 65 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results. In the City Council District 5 race, Shelby Smith defeated rival Thomas Buckner with 61 percent.
“I’m a little overwhelmed and humbled by the resounding support that the city poured out for us,” Hull said.
He said he looks forward to meeting with city leaders, department directors and the city manager to start increasing Rio Rancho’s economic base.
The runoff candidates were the top two vote-getters in four-person races in the regular election in March. City rules require runoffs between the top two in races where no one receives at least 50 percent of the votes cast in the regular election.
Voters the Journal interviewed at the polls said they picked Hull because they felt he was honest and could bring a fresh approach.
“I like his way of thinking. He’s conservative,” said State Police officer Justin Davis who cast his ballot at Soul Rio Church, one of four voting convenience centers in the city.
Some voters said they had reservations about Hull because he is an unknown. Hull moved back to Rio Rancho from Albuquerque a few weeks before announcing his intention to run.
Those who voted for Williams, a former 12-year city councilor and interim mayor, said they were familiar with his approach and believed he could get the city moving.
The election of Smith to the District 5 seat makes Rio Rancho’s governing body solidly conservative. In 2012, three incumbents lost to candidates endorsed by the Rio Rancho Tea Party. The March 4 regular municipal election boosted the conservative trend when District 2 incumbent Patty Thomas, a Democrat, stepped down and former tea party president Dawnn Robinson won her seat.
District 3 incumbent Tamara Gutierrez lost her bid for re-election to Republican Cheryl Everett.
Outgoing Mayor Tom Swisstack, a Democrat who has held office for six years, announced in September that he would not seek re-election.