Monday, January 31, 2011
Bonds, Boards on Ballot
By Hailey Heinz
Journal Staff Writer
Voters on Tuesday will choose board members for Albuquerque Public Schools and Central New Mexico Community College, as well as the fate of $70 million in bonds, yet turnout is expected to be as dismal as ever.
In three weeks of early voting, 3,942 people cast their early and absentee ballots. Bernalillo County Clerk Maggie Toulouse Oliver said that is about average for elections that traditionally draw single-digit turnouts.
"It's very typical to have a low turnout in these types of elections," she said. She said the average turnout for special elections is about 6 percent. The last school board election in 2009 drew about 3 percent of registered voters.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Of those who have voted so far, 2,111 were registered Democrats, 1,448 were Republicans and 383 identified as neither. Another 1,101 absentee ballots have been issued but not returned.
Fourteen candidates are running for three seats on the seven-member APS board. Board President Martin Esquivel and secretary Dolores Griego are both running to keep their seats. West Side board member Robert Lucero is not seeking another term.
Tuesday's ballot also will include three seats on the Central New Mexico Community College board, only one of which is contested. That race is between incumbent Carmie Toulouse and Mark Armijo, 43, school board president of the Nuestros Valores Charter School, for the South Valley District 4 seat.
CNM also will ask voters districtwide to maintain current tax levels in order to pay for $70 million worth of bonds for buildings and utilities.
The APS candidates in District 1, which represents the South Valley, are Phillip Chavez, Griego, Analee Maestas, Clara Peña and Jay Zook.
West Side District 2 candidates are John Herrera, Katherine Korte, Felix Nuñez, Peter Sanchez and Greg Snyder.
Running in District 4, which represents Uptown and the university area, are Candido Archuleta Jr., Esquivel, Cheryl Harris and Charles MacQuigg.
The new board will face a number of challenges, the most pressing of which is the prospect of budget cuts by the state. The district trimmed $43 million from its budget last year, using measures that included increased class sizes and the elimination of about 450 positions through attrition.
The board now faces the prospect of a roughly $10 million reduction in state funding, as well as about $31 million in increased costs. Those costs include teacher salary increases through the three-tier licensure system and higher utility and benefit costs.
The board is also likely to face an aggressive reform agenda from Santa Fe, under new Gov. Susana Martinez and her education secretary, Hanna Skandera. Skandera has pledged a number of reforms, including A-F grades for schools, holding students in third grade if they haven't learned to read and some form of merit pay for teachers.
Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday in Bernalillo and Sandoval counties.
Visit the Bernalillo County website at www.bernco.gov to find your polling place and your voting district for the boards of APS and CNM. If you live in Sandoval County, you can find your polling place by calling 867-7574. See ABQjournal.com for election coverage.