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Voters Pass APS Ballot Measure

By Amy Miller
Journal Staff Writer
    Albuquerque residents will continue paying a property tax to Albuquerque Public Schools that will raise nearly $168 million for school maintenance.
    Voters approved the tax Tuesday by a margin of 60 percent of votes cast, according to unofficial results.
    They also returned incumbent Robert Lucero to his West Side school board seat and elected Dolores Griego to represent the South Valley.
    Martin Esquivel defeated four candidates to capture the seat representing the university and Downtown areas.
    In a Central New Mexico Community College race, incumbent Penny Holbrook narrowly kept her seat on the governing board by a margin of 51 percent to 49 percent.
    Turnout in the election was lighter than expected, with only 6 percent of the district's 357,125 eligible voters participating.
    Usually, 8 percent to 12 percent of voters participate in school elections, according to County Clerk Maggie Toulouse.
    Superintendent Elizabeth Everitt said she was confident the tax would pass. In September, voters approved a $351 million bond package that increased property taxes.
    "We really felt that we've kept our promises," Everitt said. "We think that we are being transparent about how we spend our money."
    The district now has an advisory committee in place that's closely watching school construction projects, and its Web site has regular updates on school construction projects, she said.
    The tax costs property owners $2 per $1,000 of taxable value, and it's the district's primary source of income for maintenance. It pays for things like roof repairs and new furniture.
    "It's for the kind of things that refurbish schools and make them better places to be," Everitt said.
    The tax will go before voters again in 2013.
    Beverly Dale, 65, said she voted in favor of the tax because the roof on her home leaks.
    "So I have sympathy for the schools that have leaking roofs," she said as she voted at Zia Elementary.
    But her husband, Douglas Dale, 60, said he voted against it because he believes the district hasn't managed its finances well.
    "They haven't done a bad job," Dale said. "But they haven't done a good job, either."
    Esquivel, an Albuquerque attorney, won the District 4 race with 39 percent of the vote. Lucero easily defeated one challenger, while Griego beat two challengers.
    Esquivel said he was shocked that turnout was so low.
    "That's pretty disheartening," Esquivel said. "APS clearly needs to be more responsive to parents and the community."
    John B. Mondragon and Carmie Lynn Toulouse were also elected to the CNM board. Neither candidate was opposed.
    132 of 132 precincts reporting
   
APS Board Candidates
    DISTRICT 1
    20 of 20 precincts reporting
    Dolores A. Griego 686
    Richard Ray Sanchez 489
    Cecilia M. C de Baca 309
    DISTRICT 2
    16 of 16 precincts reporting
    Robert Lucero (i) 1,414
    Cynthia Jones 1,018
    APS Property Tax
    Yes 12,484
    No 8,333
    CNM Community College
    DISTRICT 6
    25 of 25 precincts reporting
    Penny Holbrook (i) 1,368
    Max Cisneros Jr. 1,310
    DISTRICT 4
    23 of 23 precincts reporting
    Martin Esquivel 1,638
    John Brannan Edward 1,155
    Pauline Nuñez 898
    Vanessa Alarid 384
    Charles MacQuigg 149