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Incumbent, 2 newcomers win MRGCD seats

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An incumbent and two newcomers have been elected to the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District board of directors.

Final but unofficial results in Tuesday’s election show that incumbent John P. Kelly retained his position as one of three members representing Bernalillo County on the board; Glen Duggins, a lifelong Socorro County resident who farms in Lemitar, was elected to the board’s at-large seat; and Matthew Aragon, who works full time as a small farmer in Valencia County, won the Valencia County seat.

The conservancy district serves 11,000 irrigators, delivering water to 70,000 acres of cropland along 150 miles of the Rio Grande from Cochiti Dam in the north to the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in the south. Its mission also includes drainage and flood control.

Seven members serve on the MRGCD board – three from Bernalillo County; one each from Sandoval, Socorro and Valencia counties; and one in the at-large position. Only three seats were at stake in this year’s election.

Kelly defeated Steve D. Gallegos, a veteran of both the Albuquerque City Council and Bernalillo County Commission, 1,462 to 432. Kelly, who lives in Albuquerque’s North Valley, served as executive engineer of the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority from 1999 to 2010.

Duggins defeated Janet Jarratt, a farmer who had served previously on the board in the Valencia County seat, and Michael T. Sandoval of San Felipe Pueblo, a farmer and San Felipe Pueblo’s water resources specialist. Duggins received 1,236, Sandoval received 1,111 and Jarratt got 1,086 votes. The incumbent, Eugene Abeita of Isleta Pueblo, chose not to seek re-election.

Aragon beat out incumbent Johnny L. Paiz, who raises thoroughbred horses in Bosque, and candidates Michael Tachias, a retired U.S. Army officer; and Beverly Dominguez Romero, a Tomé farmer and former Valencia County assessor.

Aragon received 366 votes, Romero 325, Paiz 141 and Tachias 62.

In order to run for the board or be eligible to vote in the election, a person must own land in the area benefited by the conservancy district. It is not necessary to be an irrigator to qualify as a candidate or to vote.

People who own property in the conservancy district are taxed to provide operating funds for the district, even if they do not use irrigation water provided by the district. If they are irrigators, they pay more than $30 an acre for that privilege in addition to paying the tax.