Being a voter in the blue island of the Santa Fe area can be a little boring at times.
While control of the U.S. House of Representative hangs in the balance in Tuesday’s mid-term elections, firing up voters around the country, our guy – Democrat Ben Ray Luján – faces minimal opposition and is a shoo-in for another term. The fight for U.S. Senate also appears to be tight if leaning Republican. It also will be a surprise if Democrat Martin Henrich doesn’t win another Senate term in New Mexico, and handily.
For state legislative seats and county offices around here, general elections often don’t even have any contests on the ballot – whoever wins the June Democratic primary typically has no opposition.
But, dear voters, look around in November 2018 and there are a couple of local races that could get you fired up, if you live in the right districts.
Jarratt Applewhite is part of a rare breed – an independent candidate with a well-funded campaign – and he is challenging Democratic incumbent Matthew McQueen in House District 50, which includes Eldorado east of town and then extends wildly all the way south to the outskirts of Belén. We previously endorsed McQueen, but like Applewhite, too. The race will an interesting one to watch on Tuesday night.
In House District 46, embattled Democratic nominee Andrea Romero, burdened by public money financial controversies from her former job running a low-profile coalition of local governments, faces fellow Democrat Heather Nordquist, a serious candidate trying to buck history and win as a write-in. The Journal North finds itself fed up with the internecine warfare among Democrats in this one and isn’t making an endorsement. Still, it’s good that Nordquist’s quixotic effort has given northern Santa Fe County district’s voters a choice as they go to the polls.
Then there’s the contest for the District 3 seat on the Santa Fe County Commission. It’s the kind of race that can dampen voter enthusiasm, and again we make no endorsement.
Thanks to reporting by Journal North’s Megan Bennett, voters now know that Democratic nominee Rudy Garcia had a long arrest record, including four DWI arrests with two convictions, and admitted to cocaine use when police searched his county government car and office for the drug years ago. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption and moving on to better things, but Garcia should have told Santa Fe school board members about his record before they appointed him to a vacant seat last year.
His opponent for the County Commission seat is Mike Anaya, a former commissioner as a Democrat now running as an independent. Bennett also uncovered that the New Mexico Association of Counties paid a settlement after Anaya was accused of sexual harassment by an association employee. The settlement isn’t public, but the employee’s ex-husband said there was a six-figure payment. The evidence in the case includes a recorded phone message from Anaya that could be interpreted as questionable behavior.
Good luck to District 3 voters.
We urge everyone to go the polls, despite the slam-dunks expected for congressional races and the depressing details in some of the contests. Surely, the 2018 governor’s race at least has been hard-fought enough to get your juices flowing.
The campaign for the important position of state land commissioner, who has the important job of managing New Mexico’s large stock of state trust land, is very competitive. It’s the down-ballot statewide race that most begs for more attention.
Here are the Journal North’s other previously published recommendations:
• Vote yes on the Santa Fe ballot measure that 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?”
It’s part of an effort to consolidate smaller, non-partisan elections – like those for city councils, school boards and community college boards – on a single November date in odd-numbered years instead of holding them on various separate dates. It also provides for a needed transition period between city elections and when the winners take office.
• 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.
• In House District 40, our choice is Democrat Joseph Sanchez to replace retiring Rep. Nick Salazar of Ohkay Owingeh.