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Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal
Voters largely supported incumbents for education boards and school and college funding streams in the consolidated election that wrapped up Tuesday night.
In this new type of election, voters cast their decisions on schools and colleges on the same ballot as questions from the city of Albuquerque and other municipalities.
As of late Tuesday, Albuquerque Public Schools’ mill levy question was passing with 63% of the vote, according to unofficial results from the New Mexico secretary of state.
The mill levy reinstates a property tax of $2 per each $1,000 of net taxable value of property within APS boundaries.
It’s expected to bring in $190 million in revenue over six years. And an additional $12 million is anticipated in state matching funds, according to APS documents.
This tax is slated to go toward school maintenance and repairs, school security, making schools compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and classroom equipment, among other things.
Voters were also backing $100 million of general obligation bonds over four years, with 68% approval.
This money is earmarked for school maintenance – such as heating, ventilation and air-conditioning, and roof replacements – as well as construction projects, including new classrooms and bus depots.
Voters the Journal spoke to said these very issues are what brought them to the polls.
“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.
Reginald Johnson said he hopes investing in APS infrastructure and equipment will help with student outcomes.
“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,” Johnson said before he walked into the voting center on Wyoming NE.
Tuesday night’s preliminary results were in stark contrast to how voters responded in February to APS’ mill levy, bond package. The proposal earlier this year had a tax hike and more than three times as much in fiscal requests. Voters struck down the entire package by wide margins.
The current mill levy, bond package will not raise the tax rate, according to APS officials.
Central New Mexico Community College’s general obligation bond was on its way to a decisive victory, with about 69% of voters supporting it, according to unofficial results on the Secretary of State’s website.
The vote gives the college authority to borrow $84 million to fund 11 different projects. The biggest ticket items on the list are more than $37 million in construction and renovation at facilities for students learning trades and applied technologies, and a new student services building worth an estimated $32 million.
As for the APS and CNM governing boards, both will likely look the same.
In APS District 1, Yolanda Montoya-Cordova was ahead, with 71% of the vote.
She was appointed to the board in the fall of 2018, following Analee Maestas’ resignation after then-state Auditor Tim Keller uncovered questionable transactions at the charter school she founded. Montoya-Cordova is a deputy secretary at the state Department of Workforce Solutions and was raised in Albuquerque’s South Valley.
The tightest race of the night was in District 2. Incumbent Peggy Muller-Aragón was winning with 58% of the vote. She has been on the board since 2015 and is a retired public school teacher.
Barbara Petersen of District 4, a former teacher who has been on the board since 2015, had 66% of the vote.
At CNM, three of seven seats on the Governing Board were up for election, but only one of the races was contested.
Board Secretary Virginia Trujillo was ahead, with about 65% of the vote. Board members James Chavez and Annette Chavez y De La Cruz held on to their seats in uncontested elections.
“I’ve tried very hard to be a good board member. I’m just thankful that so many people helped me and voted for me. It makes me know that I’m doing the right thing,” Trujillo said late Tuesday night. “My whole life I’ve worked for education and tonight tells me I’m on the right track.”
Journal staff writer Scott Turner contributed to this report.