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Education ballot questions key for several voters

Three-year-old Saskia Watt, waits while her mother, Pamela Watt, casts her ballot at Bandelier Elementary School on Tuesday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Education was the top issue for many voters who went to the polls in the first consolidated election of its kind in Bernalillo County on Tuesday.

“As a native New Mexican, I’m tired of being in the bottom percentile for education. I feel like there needs to be some massive revamping,” Reginald Johnson said before he walked into the voting center on Wyoming Boulevard in the Northeast Heights. “… I saw a lot of potential in young people. If we don’t take advantage of the young people, their minds, the ideas they are capable of having, then we’re going to squander all of their talent.”

Voters in Bernalillo County got to have their say on everything from City Council and Albuquerque Public Schools board seats to bonds and even whether city voters should have $25 coupons that they can then give to the publicly financed candidates of their choice.

Those votes are still being tabulated, but with early and absentee votes reporting, all city bonds were winning by hefty margins while Democracy Dollars were losing by a narrow margin.

Incumbent City Council candidates, meanwhile, were winning in their races, though they will each need to secure 50% of the votes to avoid a runoff election in December.

Three seats on the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and a $290 million mill levy, bond package were also on the ballot. All three APS incumbents were ahead with the early and absentee votes counted. And both the APS bond and mill levy appeared on their way to approval.

Earlier in the day, as voters were at polling places waiting to cast their ballots, several told the Journal that the APS bond and mill levy questions were key issues for them.

“I’m coming to vote so we can put money into our schools, because I’m a teacher,” Nicole Romero said before voting at Del Norte High School.

Fellow teacher Kathleen Salgado echoed the sentiment, though she said she would have been there regardless.

“I just always vote,” Salgado said.

Greg Griego, who also voted at Del Norte High School, said he wanted to see “what’s going on with the mill levy with APS.”

“That’s what I’m here for,” he said. “I haven’t paid too much attention to what else (is on the ballot).”

That’s a confession other voters would also make.

“I paid attention to the City Council races, but not as much as I should,” Salgado said. “I haven’t seen as many signs.”

Rob Esparza said he did some research on the issues but “admittedly not as much as I should have.”

It wasn’t any particular issue that motivated him to go to the polls, he said.

“I just wanted to come and cast my vote and participate in the democratic process,” Esparza said.

“I want to make sure we elect competent individuals,” Brittany Devereaux said before voting at Del Norte High School. “This election plays into that. We need to address things like health care and education.”

She was leaning toward voting for Proposition 2, but said she wished she’d done more research on the issue. 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.

“Schools and affordable housing were pretty much the issues that brought me out,” Zoe Cornwell said. “I want more money for both. I just wanted to vote. I just thought I need to with all that is going on.”

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