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Polls open today in election for conservancy district board

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Polls in Bernalillo, Sandoval and Socorro counties are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today for voting in the election for four Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board members.

At stake are board position numbers 3 and 4 in Bernalillo County, position 6 in Socorro County and position 7 in Sandoval County.

The conservancy district, whose board members are unpaid, serves 11,000 irrigators, delivering water to 70,000 acres of cropland along 150 miles of the Rio Grande from Cochiti Dam in the north to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in the south. Conservancy district board members also make decisions that affect drainage, flood control, fish and wildlife, and recreation.

Seven members serve on the MRGCD board – three from Bernalillo County; one each from Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties; and one in an at-large position.

Seven candidates, two each in three contested races and one who is unopposed, are on the ballot. Members serve four-year terms. Incumbents Karen Dunning, who holds one of the Bernalillo County positions, and Derrick J. Lente of Sandoval County are running. Incumbents Adrian Oglesby of Bernalillo County and Chris Sichler of Socorro County are not seeking new terms.

In the Bernalillo County position 3 race, Dunning is facing a challenge from Pat McCraw. Dunning, a Los Ranchos resident, is self-employed and does environmental assessments for housing developments. McCraw lives in the South Valley, where she keeps horses, goats, chickens, a mule and a donkey.

Joaquin Baca is unopposed in his run to succeed Oglesby in Bernalillo County position 4. The Downtown Albuquerque resident is a hydrologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

James Lee Martin and Valerie Moore are running against each other for Sichler’s Socorro County position 6 post. Both candidates live in Lemitar. Martin is retired from New Mexico Tech as a construction supervisor, and has served in both the New Mexico House and the New Mexico Senate. Moore and her late husband managed ranches in New Mexico and Arizona, and she now lives on a 26-acre farm.

Incumbent Lente is running against Orlando J. Lucero in the Sandoval County position 7 race. Lente, of Sandia Pueblo, now serves as MRGCD board chairman. He operates a farm and ranch, and was elected last year to the New Mexico House. Lucero, a Bernalillo resident, is a retired teacher and a farmer. He served eight years on the Sandoval County Commission.

To be eligible to vote, people must own property in the area benefited by the conservancy district. It is those people, even those who are not irrigators, who pay the taxes that provide operating funds for the district.