ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Tuesday’s school board election drew one of the highest turnouts in recent years, though it still only hit 6.6 percent of eligible voters.
According to unofficial results from the Bernalillo County Clerk’s Office, 18,333 people cast ballots in the Albuquerque Public Schools race, enough to create lines at some polling sites.
By comparison, turnout was 3.7 percent for the 2015 school board race and 3.6 percent for 2013.
Central New Mexico Community College also elected five new governing board members on Tuesday – 15,589 people voted, a 4.1 percent turnout.
“We are glad to report everything ran smoothly,” Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover said in a prepared statement. “It was a higher turnout than the past two APS/CNM regular elections. We hope more voters will see the value of voting in their local school board election and that this trend will continue on for all types of future elections.”
This year, an unusually large field of candidates competed for APS board – 19 people were up for four seats.
Incumbents Lorenzo Garcia and Dave Peercy won re-election for District 3 and District 7, respectively. In District 5, Candy Patterson defeated three other candidates, while Elizabeth Armijo prevailed in the most packed race, District 6, beating five candidates.
At CNM, incumbent Melissa Armijo lost to Annette Chavez y De La Cruz, former director of the CNM’s South Valley campus, for District 4.
Two incumbents prevailed – Pauline J. Garcia for District 1, and Nancy Baca for District 5.
Thomas Swisstack, former Rio Rancho mayor, was unopposed for District 3.
Former CNM president Michael Glennon took District 7, replacing incumbent Michael DeWitte, who did not run again.
Historically, New Mexico school board races attract few voters, partly because the elections are held separately from others, a quirk that dates back to the early 1900s.
But as a result, a relatively small number of people can sway a board election. For instance, Patterson won District 5 by only about 500 votes.
On Tuesday, Shannon Hudson said she went to the polls to make sure her voice was heard in city politics.
“It’s really important to stay involved in local government,” said Hudson, a former teacher, standing outside the Fiesta Del Norte shopping center’s polling location on San Mateo Boulevard. “This is where we get to make the most difference for our own community.”