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Election consolidates city, school, other races

Voters stand in line to cast their early-voting ballots at the Holly Plaza voting location near Paseo del Norte NE on November 1, 2019. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

It’s Election Day Tuesday and Bernalillo County voters will have more decisions to make than usual.

County Clerk Linda Stover is administering a first-of-its-kind consolidated election that includes races or ballot questions for 11 local entities, including the city of Albuquerque, Albuquerque Public Schools, Central New Mexico Community College and the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority.

There are 58 different ballot combinations, according to the County Clerk’s Office.

Depending on where they live, voters could with the same ballot pick their city councilor, school board representative and who they want to sit on the board of the Ciudad Soil & Water Conservation District.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at 69 voting sites throughout the county.

More than 51,000 voters have already cast ballots, which is 12% of registered voters in Bernalillo County. Of those, 43,735 participated in early voting that ended Saturday, and 7,866 absentee ballots had been returned as of Monday afternoon, according to the Clerk’s Office.

Although same-day registration was available during the early-voting period, it will not be offered Tuesday.

City of Albuquerque

Voters in four of nine City Council districts will be picking their representatives this year. The contested races are:

• District 2 (Including Downtown, Old Town and parts of the North Valley): Candidates are Steven Baca, Isaac Benton, Joseph Griego, Robert Blanquera Nelson, Zack Quintero and Connie Vigil.

• District 4 (Northeast Heights): Candidates are Brook Bassan, Athena Christodoulou and Ane C. Romero.

• District 6 (Including Nob Hill and the International District): Candidates are Pat Davis and Gina Naomi Dennis.

• District 8 (Northeast Heights): Candidates are Trudy Jones and Maurreen Skowran.

It is possible that neither District 2 nor District 4 will have a winner Tuesday night, given the number of candidates. City charter requires that candidates receive at least 50% of the vote to earn a City Council seat. When no candidate reaches that threshold, the top two finishers compete in a runoff.

Though not all city voters will have a council race on their ballot, they will see 11 general-obligation bond questions totaling $128.5 million.

That includes a question for “senior, family, community center, homeless and community enhancement bonds” that features $14 million for a planned 24/7, centralized homeless shelter.

The 2019 bond package also includes $5.5 million for the International District library, $5 million for affordable housing, $5 million for the Rail Yards, $5 million to widen Westside Boulevard between Unser and N.M. 528, $1.25 million for a West Side indoor sports complex and $1.2 million for a North Domingo Baca Park swimming pool.

The bonds would not raise property taxes, but rejection could lower them. If all city bond questions failed, the owner of a $200,000 home would save about $5 per month.

City voters will also weigh in on whether to extend the transportation tax and to pass two propositions related to public campaign financing. Proposition 1 would make multiple changes to the system, such as allowing publicly financed candidates to collect more “seed money” and to accept unlimited in-kind contributions for certain services (such as legal advice to comply with election law). Proposition 2 would provide for “Democracy Dollars” – taxpayer-backed $25 vouchers for each eligible resident to give the publicly financed city council or mayoral candidate of their choice.

Both propositions would also raise the amount of money given to publicly financed mayoral candidates by 75%. Candidates presently get $1 per registered voter, but the propositions raise it to $1.75.

APS

Albuquerque Public Schools has three Board of Education seats and a $290 million mill levy, bond package on the ballot.

Through the funding package, the district is aiming to continue a tax at the previous amount, which would generate $190 million over six years. And it’s looking to issue $100 million of bonds over four years.

The district has said that neither question would raise the tax rate.

That package is much different from a previous proposal that voters struck down earlier this year that would have raised taxes and brought in $900 million over six years.

APS officials say the new and more modest mill levy, bond request would go toward capital work in the district, primarily maintenance at schools. Of the election revenue, APS documents show $92.3 million would be for school maintenance, which encompasses heating, ventilation and air conditioning, roof, infrastructure and pipe repairs.

As for the Board of Education seats, Districts 1, 2 and 4 are on the ballot with all three incumbents running.

Candidates include former teachers, a former accountant, a New Mexico department deputy secretary and a local activist.

One of the major roles the Board of Education is tasked with is hiring the APS superintendent – a timely job, with current Superintendent Raquel Reedy announcing she will retire next year.

In District 1, Yolanda Montoya-Cordova, who currently holds a seat on the board, is running against Madelyn Jones.

Montoya-Cordova is a deputy secretary at the Department of Workforce Solutions and has Albuquerque Teachers Federation’s backing. Jones has “44 years of business ownership experience,” according to information she provided to APS.

In District 2, incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragón, a former teacher who has been on the board since 2015, is going against union pick Laurie Harris – former teacher and accountant.

In District 4, current board member Barbara Petersen is running against Verland Coker. Petersen, who was endorsed by the union, has been on the board since 2015 and was a teacher. Coker is an activist and has a brother with special needs who attends APS.

Laura Carlson was initially running for the District 4 spot but told the Journal that she is not actively running for the board anymore.

CNM

Central New Mexico Community College has three spots on its Governing Board that are up for election, though just one of the seats is being contested. Voters are also going to decide whether the community college with more than 20,000 students can borrow $84 million and issue negotiable general obligation bonds to pay for a series of projects.

Those projects include $37 million in construction and renovations to facilities for students learning trades and applied technologies, and funding for the first phase of the creation of a Film Production Center of Excellence. The film center could be built in Albuquerque’s Rail Yards.

In the only contested board race, Board Secretary Virginia Trujillo is being challenged by candidate Layne McAdoo for the District 6 seat, which represents parts of Northwest Albuquerque.

Both Trujillo and McAdoo are strong supporters of teachers unions and registered Democrats.

Trujillo, 71, served on the community college’s board in the 1990s and was elected in 2015 to her current seat. She was an Albuquerque public schools teacher and was a member of the New Mexico State Board of Education for 12 years.

McAdoo, 68, worked as a full- and part-time instructor at Albuquerque’s community college. She also works as a court-appointed special advocate in Sandoval County.

CNM Governing Board members James Chavez and Annette Chavez y De La Cruz are running unopposed.

2019 Regular Local Election Locations by Albuquerque Journal on Scribd

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