Democrat Manuel Gonzales III narrowly defeated Republican Scott Baird late Tuesday to win office as Bernalillo County’s next sheriff, according to unofficial returns.
Gonzales called his victory a “message from the people.”
He will replace incumbent Dan Houston, who lost to Baird in the Republican primary.
Bernalillo County commissioners Wayne Johnson and Debbie O’Malley soundly defeated their challengers late Tuesday, according to the returns.
In the campaign for assessor, Democrat Tanya Giddings claimed victory over Republican George Torres. Giddings, appointed to the position last year, was standing for election for the first time.
Bernalillo County Commission
As for the County Commission, the partisan makeup of the board won’t change, as both incumbents won re-election. Democrats hold three of the five commission seats.
Johnson, a Republican, defeated Democrat Michael Malloy in District 5, which covers the East Mountains and part of the Northeast Heights.
“We got out there and we worked hard,” Johnson said. “I had a formidable challenger in the primary and we did what we needed to do in the general election. The numbers showed that.”
O’Malley, a Democrat, defeated Republican Simon Kubiak in District 1, which covers the North Valley and part of the West Side.
“It’s still a very humbling process,” O’Malley said of the campaign.
Gonzales worked 21 years for the sheriff’s office and retired in 2006. He was appointed sheriff in 2009 and served 13 months before he was ousted by Houston in 2010. On the campaign trail, he emphasized community policing.
He said Tuesday night that he planned to have a group of current and former law enforcement officials assess the sheriff’s office for what is needed in the way of changes.
Baird retired from the sheriff’s office in August 2013 as a chief deputy, making him one of the highest-ranking deputies under Houston. But Baird campaigned on reversing some of the changes Houston made since taking office, including, Baird said, the practice of not honoring deputies’ bids for assignments, which take place every six months. And Houston campaigned on behalf of Gonzales in the general election.
The campaign grew contentious in the final weeks. The Committee to Elect Manuel Gonzales Sheriff mailed a flier to voters that highlighted controversial aspects of Baird’s past, including three drunken driving convictions from the 1980s, a suspension from the sheriff’s office and being named in a discrimination lawsuit against the BCSO.
Baird, meanwhile, questioned Gonzales’ truthfulness on a Journal survey that asked if he was ever the target of an internal affairs investigation. Gonzales answered “no” despite being part of an officer-involved shooting in the 1980s.
Gonzales said Tuesday that it was important to have information about Baird’s past before going to the polls.
Flood control seats
Voters also went to the polls to fill two seats on the board of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority.
In District 1, which stretches from Candelaria Road to the far South Valley, and includes the University of New Mexico neighborhood and the far Southwest Mesa, challenger Deborah Stover had a narrow lead over incumbent Danny Hernandez.
The winner wasn’t immediately clear in District 2 either, which covers much of the West Side.
Cynthia Borrego had a slim lead over Thomas Anderson.
Also in the race are Eloise Gift and Dan Serrano.
Journal Staff Writer Colleen Heild contributed to this report.