Gutierrez retains commission seat


Voters in Socorro County and across the state turned out at the polls in the primary election on Tuesday. Many of the candidates who ran in county elections were uncontested; however, there will be a few who will face off as opponents in the general election on Nov. 6.

In the Republican race for the county commission District 5 seat, incumbent Juan Jose Gutierrez won over challenger Elijah F. Wade 218 votes to 100.

“These were good results, and I expected it,” Gutierrez said. “I’ve been commissioner for a long time.”

Gutierrez has served 14 years as county commissioner. He was also the mayor of Magdalena for six years.

Over the years, he’s held many titles, such as road superintendant and county clerk, and he was also on the Socorro City Council.

Gutierrez already has several projects he wants to accomplish while serving as county commissioner, such as building a park in San Antonio. However, the biggest project is rebuilding Bosquecito Road.

Socorro County applied for a grant/loan to rebuild the road off U.S. 380. The Water Trust Board awarded the county $1,930,236.39 for the project (see the article “Bosquecito Road to be rebuilt” in El Defensor Chieftain’s June 6 edition for more information.)

In November, he’ll be running against Democrat Diego Montoya in the general election. Montoya did not face a challenger in the primary and received 177 votes.

In the District 2 county commission race, Democrat Stanley Herrera received 181 votes and will run against Republican Martha Salas who took 80.

Democrat Tina Lujan, county treasurer, will run against Republican Shirleen Greenwood in the general election. Lujan received 905 votes in the primary, and Greenwood got 786.

County Clerk Rebecca Vega, a Democrat, ran uncontested for the county clerk position and received 975 votes. She has been with the county for 25 years, and county clerk for three years.

A Republican challenger did not file for the primary race.

“I do my work as best as I can; I’m happy people think that I’m doing a good job,” said Vega.

Vega said she and District 4 County Commissioner Daniel P. Monette, a Republican, are the only two uncontested candidates in the general election. Monette received 164 votes in the primary race.

According to Vega, there were a total of 9,489 registered Republican and Democrat voters. There was a 22 percent turnout with a total of 2,043 votes all together. She said this year the voting system had some residents request an absentee ballot, but there were also two all mail absentee precincts where residents could vote provisional. Those who weren’t a part of these two precincts could apply for an absentee ballot. Voters could also go to a voting convenience center, where residents could vote provisional.

Incumbent Republican Representative for District 49 Don Tripp, was unchallenged by either Democrats or Republicans. He garnered 824 votes in the primary. Fellow representative W. Ken Martinez was also unchallenged by either party in his primary bid for District 69. The incumbent received 104 votes.

Sen. Howie Morales, a Democrat, was also completely unopposed in the primary race for District 28. He received 786 votes.

While Sen. David Ulibarri (D-Grants) won overall in Socorro County with 71 votes, he failed to get the Democratic nomination.

But at this time, there is no clear winner in the District 30 race.

The top two Democratic candidates — Maxine Velasquez of Laguna and Clemente Sanchez of Grants — are separated by only three votes. The final outcome of the race could come down to the provisional ballots waiting to be verified and counted.

District 30 covers parts of four counties — Valencia, Cibola, Socorro and McKinely. Depending on how many of the provisional ballots were cast by eligible voters and how the votes are distributed amongst the four Democratic primary candidates, a clear winner may emerge. Or a recount may be in the offing.

Changes to state law four years ago mandate an automatic recount for primary and general elections when the margin between the top two candidates is less than 1/2 of 1 percent.

The District 30 race was subject to a recount in the 2008 primary, when just eight votes separated Sanchez from incumbent Ulibarri. Ulibarri was appointed to the seat in 2006, replacing Joseph Fidel after his retirement.

In Cibola County, there are 54 provisional ballots that were verified and counted Friday, as well as 21 in Socorro, which were finalized Friday morning. Those results were not available by Defensor Chieftain press time.

Valencia County has 36 provisional ballots to go through, and McKinley County has 438. The canvass for Valencia County began on Wednesday and is scheduled to finish at 3 p.m. on June 15.

McKinley County bureau of elections staff said the county commission there should meet by Wednesday, June 13.

Across the district, Ulibarri only pulled in 876 votes, putting him third in the four-way race and 345 votes behind the current leader.

In order to make it on to the general election in November, nearly all of the provisional ballots would need to be determined valid and be cast for Ulibarri.

Velasquez, if she is proclaimed the winner, will go on to face Republican Vickie Perea, a Belen resident, in November. Perea pulled 37 votes from Socorro County voters in her unchallenged primary.

Incumbent District Attorney Clint Wellborn, a Republican, received 781 votes in the primary. He will not face an opponent in the general election either.

Republican candidate for the Public Education Commission District 8 seat Vince Bergman received seven votes in Socorro County.

Democrat M. Monica Zamora and Republican J. Miles Hanisee will move forward to the general election in November for the N.M. Court of Appeals judgeship.

In the race for the New Mexico U.S. Senate seat, November will see Democrat Martin Heinrich take on Heather Wilson.

In the U.S. Representative race for District 2, Democrat Evelyn Madrid Erhard will face incumbent Republican Steve Pearce.

Voters in Socorro County chose Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, with 592 votes for the candidate to run against President Barack Obama in the November general election. Obama received 926 votes in the primary.