Sichler retains MRGCD seat

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The incumbent Socorro County Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District director, San Antonio farmer Chris Sichler, won the Position 3 election handily with 343 votes on June 4. Challenger Jericho Sanchez of Veguita garnered 166 votes. In a statement emailed last night, Sichler expressed his gratitude for the voters’ support.

“Socorro County has been very generous to my family and me, and it is a privilege to be able to serve my community,” he said. “Being elected to serve as director for the last four years, and now another four years, is one of the biggest honors ever bestowed upon me, and I take that responsibility very seriously. I sincerely appreciate the trust of the people who voted for me and I hope to earn the trust of those who didn’t.”

Even though only 14 percent of eligible landowners voted in the district election, poll workers felt voter participation was up.

Veteran MRGCD election judge Pete Gonzales said more voters seemed to be participating in this year’s election compared to the last election in 2009. Early voting started May 20 and ended June 1. The regular election day was June 4.

Gonzales was manning the voter check-in table at the Socorro Electric Co-op polling site.

“Early voting was steady, 10 to 12 votes per day,” Gonzales said. “We had maybe 130 early votes. Today, 36 votes so far (at 11 a.m.). It’s been pretty steady, more than last time.”

Voter Ernie Lopez, a city resident, came in to vote even though he doesn’t irrigate any land.

“I don’t irrigate right now,” Lopez said. “I live on Faulkner next to the ditch. I have a quarter acre.”

Anyone owning land within the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District service area is automatically registered to vote in district elections. About 3,580 landowners were qualified to vote in this year’s Socorro County MRGCD election.