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14 candidates qualify for 5 council seats

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — At least 14 Albuquerque City Council candidates have gathered the number of signatures they need to qualify for the Oct. 3 ballot in five council races, according to tallies released late Wednesday by the city clerk’s office.

Candidates were required to gather at least 500 signatures by 5 p.m. from registered voters residing in the district each seeks to represent.

The candidates listed below are based on the information reported on the clerk’s website as of 5 p.m. Wednesday. Additional candidates may qualify as the city clerk’s office continues to verify signatures delivered Wednesday, a clerk’s official said.

Seeking re-election are: District 1, Councilor Ken Sanchez; District 3, Councilor Klarissa Peña; District 7, Councilor Diane Gibson; and District 9, Councilor Don Harris.

In District 5, City Councilor Dan Lewis is running for mayor this year, leaving an open seat in that district.

District 1

Sanchez, the incumbent, will face off against three challengers in District 1, which covers Albuquerque’s central West Side. A Democrat, Sanchez operates an accounting firm and is president of Ken Sanchez & Associates Realty. He has represented the district since 2005.

Javier Benavidez, a self-described progressive Democrat, is co-director of the SouthWest Organizing Project, a social and environmental justice advocacy organization. He previously worked as a policy analyst for the City Council.

Sandra Mills is an independent who grew up in Albuquerque and retired from IBM Corp. Mills volunteers as an AARP tax aide and cites her father, Louis Ulibarri, as her biggest influence.

Johnny F. Luevano Jr., is an independent who now works for Presbyterian Health Plan. Luevano served in the Marines and retired with the rank of captain.

District 3

Peña, a Democrat, is running for a second term on the council.

Her lone opponent is Christopher Sedillo, a Democrat who served as a paratrooper in the Navy in sites that include Iraq, Kuwait, the Persian Gulf, and in Vietnam, where he worked on repatriation of remains. The Albuquerque native retired from the Navy after 26 years. He then worked as a commercial truck driver for a year and a half, but quit in March to focus on the council race.

District 5

A three-person race has emerged in District 5 – the only council race in which no incumbent is running.

City Councilor Dan Lewis is running for mayor this year, leaving an open seat in the northwest Albuquerque district. The three candidates are:

Robert Aragon, an attorney who was a state representative for six years. He serves on the state Board of Finance and said he has served on transition teams for both Republican and Democratic governors. Aragon said he was a registered Democrat until 2012, when he switched to the Republican Party.

Cynthia Borrego, a retired city planner who currently serves on the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority Board. Borrego, a self-described conservative Democrat, was a planner for the city of Albuquerque and Bernalillo County for 28 years. She has since opened her own business, Cyba’s & Associates LLC, a land development consulting company.

Catherine Trujillo, who is running as an independent, works with people to help get them back into the workforce. She is vice president of the Taylor Ranch Neighborhood Association.

Three other candidates in the district appeared short of the required 500 signatures as of late Wednesday. They are Jose Orazco, Phillip Ramirez and Robert Watson.

District 7

A two-person race has shaped up in District 7 between incumbent Gibson and challenger Eric L. Lucero. This district covers Albuquerque’s mid-heights, including Uptown and parts of the near Northeast Heights.

Gibson, a Democrat, is wrapping up her first term on the council. The Detroit native has lived in New Mexico since 1975 and retired from Sandia National Laboratories in 2008.

Lucero is a registered Republican and retired from the New Mexico Army National Guard in 2012 after 23 years of service. Prior to that, he served in the Air Force. He said he has been deployed five times.

A third candidate, Timothy Carlton-McQueen, remained short of the required signatures late Wednesday.

District 9

The incumbent, Harris, will face two challengers in District 9, which includes the far Southeast Heights and Foothills.

Harris, a Republican, is an attorney seeking his fourth term on the council.

Paul Ryan McKenney, a Libertarian, was in the Air Force and served one tour in Iraq. He identifies himself as a stay-at-home dad and is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business through Eastern New Mexico University’s online program.

Byron K. Powdrell, a Democrat, is general manager of a home-based low-power radio station he operates under Future Broadcasters Inc., a nonprofit he started to mentor children in the art of radio.