A slate of business-backed candidates was winning three of four races for Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education seats, according to unofficial results Tuesday night.
The results mark a decisive change from previous APS board seat elections, which have largely been all but decided by the Albuquerque Teachers Federation.
Six of the seven current board members were endorsed by the union.
The leading candidates in Tuesday’s election were Danielle Gonzales for District 3, Crystal Tapia-Romero for District 5, Josefina Dominguez for District 6 and Courtney Jackson for District 7.
Dominguez was the only union-endorsed candidate likely to win a seat on the board. The other apparent winners all garnered support from business groups and owners.
This year’s election saw business owners take considerable interest in the board seat races by backing an entirely different slate of candidates from the teachers union, resulting in a flood of campaign donations for business-backed picks.
In three races, candidates backed by business groups out-fundraised their union-endorsed opponents, according to the most recent campaign finance reports. In years past, union-backed candidates typically raised the most money.
Dominguez was the only union pick to garner more campaign donations than her opponent.
New school board members will be tasked with deciding policy issues relating to mask and possible vaccine mandates, and other pandemic-related concerns, alongside budgetary issues, including the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds intended to aid in pandemic recovery.
Voters also decided on a bond and mill levy package that will bring in $630 million over a six-year period, with the money going toward school renovations, educational technology, improving heating and cooling systems, and other upgrades, according to the school district.
District officials said the bond and mill levy will keep taxes at their current rate, if approved by voters.
The bond question was likely to be approved, with 69% voting in favor, while the mill levy was likely to be approved, with 52% of voters in favor.
For the Board of Education election, voters filled seats in Districts 3, 5, 6 and 7 after none of the incumbents sought reelection.
Nonprofit leader Gonzales, who was backed by business groups, led in the District 3 contest — the closest and most crowded race — with 42% of the vote. Outgoing board vice president Lorenzo Garcia currently holds the seat for the district, which encompasses the North Valley, Downtown and Midtown. Gonzales’ opponents were:
♦ Jinx Baskerville, a former APS teacher and union pick, who took home 39% of the vote
♦ Former teacher Ali Ennenga, with 12% of the vote and
♦ Former deputy city clerk Lucas Gauthier, with 8%.
In District 5, business-backed Tapia-Romero, herself a small-business owner, held a decisive lead for the seat, with 53% of the vote. The district, which is currently represented by outgoing board member Candelaria Patterson, encompasses most of the West Side south of Montaño. Tapia-Romero’s opponents were:
♦ Community organizer Emma Jones, who took home 27% and
♦ Union-backed nurse Uche Marie Ohiri, who trailed, with 19%.
For District 6, former educator Dominguez likely will take the seat currently held by Elizabeth Armijo after winning 55% of the vote. The district is bordered roughly by Comanche on the north and Interstate 40 on the south. Dominguez’s opponents were:
♦ Business owner Arthur Carrasco, with 43% of the vote and
♦ Write-in candidate Celia Cortez, who garnered 2%.
With 48% of the vote, Jackson, who is also backed by the business group, is likely to take over the District 7 seat, which outgoing board president David Peercy has held for more than a decade. The district includes much of the Northeast Heights, and is roughly bordered by Montgomery to the south and Louisiana to the west. Her opponents were:
♦ Union pick and policy worker Julie Brenning, who earned 41.5% and
♦ Community activist Nicholas Bevins, who took home 10% of the vote.