Republicans Dave Heil and Jay Block won seats on the Sandoval County Commission, while Sandoval County Treasurer Laura Montoya and County Clerk Eileen Garbagni were re-elected to second terms on an Election Day that saw more than 60 percent of eligible county voters head to the polls.
Most of the incumbents in local legislative races won re-election, the exception being District 23 Republican Rep. Paul Pacheco, who fell to former Sandoval County Commissioner and Democrat Daymon Ely in a very close race. According to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, there may be an automatic recount.
In the presidential contest, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton received 44.8 percent of the vote in the county, while Republican candidate Donald Trump had 42 percent, and former New Mexico governor and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson had 10.7 percent.
According to unofficial results from the Secretary of State website, 64.8 percent of eligible county voters voted in Tuesday’s general election. The number of Sandoval County voters (61,713) outpaced general elections in 2012 (54,245), 2008 (58,798) and 2004 (45,863).
Final numbers from the county’s bureau of elections are expected to be available Thursday.
Heil took the District 4 seat by beating Democrat Alexis Jimenez. Both are from Rio Rancho. Heil, who gathered 54.7 percent of the vote, will succeed commissioner Glenn Walters, who could not run again because of term limits.
“I appreciate all those who voted for me and worked for me, and I look forward to doing the job for the citizens of Sandoval County and Rio Rancho,” Heil said.
Political newcomer Block, also of Rio Rancho, edged incumbent Democrat Nora Scherzinger of Corrales for the District 2 commission seat. He had almost 51 percent of the vote to Scherzinger’s 49 percent.
Block, who spoke with the Observer after the election, thanked Scherzinger for her work with the county as a commissioner and as an educator. He said his first days as commissioner will be spent pushing for more transparency from the commission, which includes his proposal to have public comment at the beginning of commission meetings, as opposed to being held near the end of each meeting.
“We have to be accountable to the people, we have to serve them, they should be included in the county commission meeting,” Block said.
The other commission seat up for election, in District 5, will be taken by Democrat F. Kenneth Eichwald, who was unopposed. He will succeed Democrat Darryl Madalena, who could not run again because of term limits.
Montoya, a Democrat, beat Republican challenger Leroy Lovato of Bernalillo to win another term as county treasurer. The incumbent, a Rio Rancho resident, gained 50.1 percent of the vote to Lovato’s 49.8 percent.
Garbagni, a Democrat from Bernalillo, defeated Republican Donald Lemm of Rio Rancho with 52 percent of the vote.
In local legislative races, incumbent Republican Jason Harper won his third term in House District 57 as he defeated Democrat Donna Tillman with 55 percent of the vote. Both are from Rio Rancho.
In the race for House District 23, Ely, a Democrat from Corrales, denied Pacheco his third term, taking 50.3 percent of the vote to Pacheco’s 49.6 percent. Pacheco is from Albuquerque.
House District 44 incumbent Jane Powdrell-Culbert of Corrales and House District 60 incumbent Tim Lewis of Rio Rancho were unopposed. Both are Republicans.
In Senate races, the District 9 incumbent, Democrat John Sapien, narrowly beat Republican Diego Espinoza to win a third term. Sapien had 50.2 percent of the vote to Espinoza’s 49.7 percent. There may be an automatic recount, according to the Secretary of State website.
Republican Candace Gould won the Senate District 10 seat, taking almost 50.8 percent of the vote to Democrat David Simon’s 49.1 percent.
Incumbent District 40 Sen. Craig Brandt, a Republican from Rio Rancho, won his bid for a third term over Democrat Linda Allison, winning 55.3 percent of the vote.