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Journal North election recommendations

Early voting started last Saturday. Here are some of the Journal North’s recommendations for the Nov. 6 general election:

• A ballot question before Santa Fe voters would amend the City Charter to move municipal elections from March in even-numbered years to November in odd-numbered years. It’s part of an effort under the state’s new Local Elections Act to consolidate smaller, non-partisan elections – like those for city councils, school boards and community college boards – instead of holding them on various separate dates.

The measure before city voters asks: “Shall the Santa Fe Municipal Charter be amended to allow the City to enact by ordinance its election date and the date on which officials take office as provided in the Local Election Act?”

The Journal North recommends a “yes” vote here.

It makes sense to have a single election day for the now-scattered local elections. Consolidated elections in November, when we’re used to going to polls, also should attract more attention and, one hopes, more voters.

Also, the new system provides for a needed and reasonable transition period. Now, the mayor and City Council take office within days of the March municipal election. If voters approve the proposed measure, the elected officials would take office on Jan. 1, allowing about two months after a November election for winners to get up to speed before being thrown into the details of a city budget or other serious issues.

• In Los Alamos-centered House District 43, the Journal North endorses Democrat Christine Chandler to fill the seat being vacated by Stephanie Garcia Richard, who is running for state Land Commissioner.

Chandler, retired after years as an in-house lawyer at the Los Alamos lab, has experience as a County Councilor, and on important boards in and out of local government. She also has served a useful apprenticeship as a legislative analyst for the Senate Judiciary Committee, which works on drafting and evaluating the legality of bills at the Legislature.

• In another open seat, in House District 40, our choice is Democrat Joseph Sanchez to replace retiring Rep. Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh. Sanchez grew up in Alcalde, he’s as an engineer at Los Alamos National Laboratory and he has served a three-year stint as CEO of the Jemez Electric Cooperative. To top it off, he plays various instruments in the legendary northern New Mexico band Los Blue Ventures.

• For House District 50, the strangely drawn district that stretches from Eldorado south to the outskirts of Belen, our recommendation is that voters go with incumbent Matthew McQueen, an attorney who has stuck up for neighborhood groups in and around Santa Fe. But Independent Jarratt Applewhite, a former Santa Fe school board member, also has appeal as a smart candidate with a varied background who might serve as a maverick at the Legislature.

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