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Smith wins office by 22 percent margin

Todd Hathorne, right, speaks with District 5 City Councilor-elect Shelby Smith during an Election Night party Tuesday. (Argen Duncan / Observer)
Todd Hathorne, right, speaks with District 5 City Councilor-elect Shelby Smith during an Election Night party Tuesday. (Argen Duncan / Observer)
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Shelby Smith will be Rio Rancho’s new District 5 city councilor, unofficial results from Tuesday’s runoff election showed.

Smith, a retired Rio Rancho Police sergeant, won 60.9 percent of the vote. His opponent, Thomas Buckner, took 39.1 percent.

“I’m thinking it’s time to get to work,” Smith said. “The fun’s over.”

As far as priorities, he said the governing body will first need to handle the city budget for the coming fiscal year, and he sees his role as making sure employees are taken care of and contracts are honored.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to jump into the thick of it with water issues and reuse,” Smith said.

The first order of business there, he said, is to get on the “same sheet of music” with the professed experts on the subject.

Smith is also prioritizing economic development. He said citizens want Rio Rancho to be a “paradigm shifter” for economic development in the state.

Buckner congratulated Smith and Mayor-elect Gregg Hull on their wins.

“The people have spoken, and I respect their decision,” Buckner said. “I look forward to working with Shelby and the people of Rio Rancho.”

Smith and Buckner were the top two vote-getters in the field of four District 5 city council candidates during the regular election in March. Because none of them had 50 percent or more of the vote, the race went into a runoff election. Incumbent Tim Crum finished third in the regular election.

The District 5 runoff race had a 12.5 percent turnout, with 1,168 of 9,372 eligible voters casting ballots, according to the City Clerk’s Office.

Observer staff writer Sterling Fluharty contributed to this article.

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