In a hotly contested race, former Albuquerque Parks and Recreation Director Barbara Baca defeated Glen Duggins in last week’s Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District election.
Duggins held the Position 1 (at-large) position and was also Chairman of the seven-member MRGCD board. After the dust settled, the final tally was 1,838 votes for Baca to 1,384 for Duggins.
It was one of three positions that were up for election; the other two were the Bernalillo and Valencia county seats.
There was no contest for the Bernalillo County position. Incumbent John P. Kelly was unopposed and received 1,222 votes.
Stephanie Russo Baca, a Los Chavez water attorney, received 52.39 percent of the votes in the three-way Valencia County race, with 460 votes. Jarales businessman and farmer Les Gibson came in second with 328 votes, and 90 MRGCD members voted for Los Chavez farmer Michael W. Lundmark.
The new members of the board were sworn in Monday.
“Of course I am grateful to the voters and hope they see I will fully represent the urban, rural and farming needs within the entire conservancy district,” Baca said in an interview with the Albuquerque Journal. “Now is the time to be forward thinking and to improve how we manage our water. I am excited to join the reform-minded direction the board has taken so we better plan for the realities of climate change, drought and ongoing water shortages.”
Duggins has not commented on the election, but had publicly voiced his concerned about farmers not being represented on the board, claiming he was the only full-time farmer serving. Duggins was elected to the board in 2015.
The district operates, maintains and manages irrigation, drainage and river control in the Middle Rio Grande from Cochiti Dam in the northern part of the state to the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro County.
Board members not up for re-election were Michael T. Sandoval of Sandoval County; Valerie Moore of Socorro County; and Joaquin Baca and Karen Dunning, both of Bernalillo County.
Barbara Baca 1,838
Glen Duggins 1,384
John P. Kelly 1,222
Stephanie Russo Baca 460
Les Gibson 328
Michael W. Lundmark 90