Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales III held off a challenger to win the Democratic primary Tuesday night.
With all of the voting centers reporting, Gonzales beat Sylvester Stanley by about 48 percent to 38 percent. Joe Williams trailed the field with 14 percent.
This was the second election cycle in which voters chose between Gonzales and Stanley, two men who spent their careers working their way up the ranks in the Sheriff’s Office.
“I think the Sheriff’s Office is a highly visible department, and our deputies have done such a great job, and with me being the head of the agency, that’s the return on their performance,” Gonzales told the Journal.
Gonzales said his campaign was re-energized after the Journal endorsed Stanley. With the early vote counted and nearly two-thirds of the voting centers reporting, he had received more than 25,000 votes, which was more than he earned in 2014 when he beat Stanley 13,709 to 13,333.
“I think people in my campaign and some people reached out to me and wanted to help,” he said. “It energized them. There was a lot of energy in our campaign.”
Gonzales was appointed sheriff in 2009 by the Bernalillo County Commission. He lost the 2010 election and then won the seat in 2014.
Gonzales has said citizens are happy with the current state of the Sheriff’s Office. That’s despite the fact that some community groups and the County Commission have called for a review of the Sheriff’s Office’s use-of-force and other policies after deputies were involved in an increasing number of use-of-force cases last year, some of which led to lawsuits against the county.
In addition to his career at the BCSO, Stanley has been the police chief for the Gallup, Isleta and Jicarilla Apache police departments. He said during the campaign that he has more modern views on technology such as on-body cameras, saying he has used them when he was chief of other departments. He said they can be used to help exonerate officers.
Gonzales, on the other hand, hasn’t equipped his deputies with cameras and said he hasn’t seen any evidence that cameras make the public or deputies safer.
Stanley remained optimistic about the election, even though he trailed by 10 percentage points.
He said he was pleased with the campaign as he awaited results at an Albuquerque hotel with many of his supporters.
“We still feel pretty decent,” he said. “There still is a long ways to go … I guess we’ll be having a conversation first thing in the morning.”
Joe Williams, who hasn’t worked in law enforcement, said he became interested in running after having encounters with Albuquerque police over city ordinances.
Williams couldn’t be reached for comment.
Gonzales will face Republican Lou Golson, a retired Albuquerque police officer, in the general election. Golson didn’t have a primary challenger.