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MRGCD chair wins fourth term in election

Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal

All three incumbent candidates won reelection to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board on Tuesday, and a chile farmer returned to the board to represent Socorro County, according to unofficial election results.

The board oversees irrigation and flood control from Cochiti Dam to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, and helps deliver river water to Elephant Butte Reservoir.

The MRGCD also partners with federal agencies to protect such endangered species as the Rio Grande silvery minnow and the Southwestern willow flycatcher.

Board chair Karen Dunning, who secured a fourth term in one of the board’s three Bernalillo County positions, received 1,558 votes to opponent Julia L. Maccini’s 598 votes.

“I really think it boiled down to the fact that voters in Bernalillo County within the district are concerned with a broader range of issues than just irrigation,” Dunning said. “They want board members who will also help solve drought issues, who will protect endangered species and provide water.”

Dunning is a former community planner for the City of Albuquerque and a longtime Los Ranchos resident.

Joaquin Baca, who secured a second term representing Bernalillo County, had 1,583 votes to opponent Simon T. “Scooter” Haynes’ 571 votes.

Baca, who could not be reached for comment, is a hydrologist with the U.S. Forest Service, a U.S. Army and New Mexico National Guard veteran, and former high school science teacher who lives in Downtown Albuquerque.

Glen Duggins, a Lemitar chile and alfalfa farmer, won election to the Socorro County board seat with 238 votes to opponent Steven Sichler’s 208 votes.

“It’s time to get to work,” Duggins said. “I look forward to bringing a farmer voice back to the board. Commercial farmers don’t want to take over. We just want to be heard.”

Duggins had previously served as the board’s at-large member for four years before Barbara Baca ousted him in 2019.

He is the New Mexico Chile Association president and a Socorro County commissioner.

Sandoval County representative Michael T. Sandoval ran unopposed and received 181 votes to secure reelection to his board seat.

Sandoval is a former San Felipe Pueblo governor who was a water resources civil engineer technician at the Bureau of Indian Affairs for 30 years before becoming San Felipe Pueblo’s water resources specialist.

Tuesday’s vote tallies are unofficial. The district will canvass votes June 11 and new board members will be sworn in June 14.

Board members serve staggered four-year terms.

The board members not up for reelection this year are John Kelly of Bernalillo County, Stephanie Russo-Baca of Valencia County and at-large member Barbara Baca.

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