The vacancy created in New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District when Deb Haaland was appointed Interior Secretary is being sought by four candidates, as well as two write-in candidates.

Haaland joined the Biden administration in March 2021, which prompted the scheduling of a special election on June 1 to fill the position. Early voting is underway and will continue until May 29.

The outcome of this election will affect partisan control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the 117th Congress. Democrats currently have a 218 to 211 majority over Republicans.

Featured on the ballot will be Democrat Melanie Stansbury, Republican Mark Moores, Libertarian Chris Manning, independent candidate Aubrey Dunn, and two write-in candidates, Laura Olivas and Robert Ornelas.

Melanie Stansbury

Stansbury is currently a state representative for District 28, having been elected in 2019.

A native New Mexican, Stansbury was born in Farmington and raised in Albuquerque. She has a bachelor’s in human ecology and natural science and a master’s degree in development sociology.

After working as a science educator and researcher, she returned to New Mexico and ran for a seat in the State House in 2018, becoming the first woman to fill it.

According to Stansbury’s website, her priorities if elected include “addressing childhood hunger, modernizing our electric grid, fostering resilience in our water and food systems, improving education, expanding economic opportunity and public safety, improving access to healthcare, and using sound science in decision-making.”

Stansbury has worked to advance the visibility of missing and murdered indigenous women throughout the country, especially in New Mexico.

She is a champion of racial equality, including efforts to decriminalize marijuana, laws against which have disproportionately affected minorities throughout the country for decades.

Stansbury credits her determination to “grit,” and the ability to persevere, according to her website. Her plans, should she win this election, include addressing food and housing insecurity, fighting for universal access to healthcare, diversifying and building our post-pandemic economy, and tackling global climate change.

Mark Moores

Moores is currently serving as a state senator for District 21. He was elected in 2012, and took office in 2013.

Born and raised near Washington D.C., Moores received a scholarship to play football for the University of New Mexico. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science, and later received a master’s in business administration from the Anderson School of Management at UNM.

Moores worked as chief of staff for Lt. Governor Walter Dwight Bradley and as a field representative for Congressman Steve Schiff. He served as executive director of the New Mexico Dental Association from 2006 to 2017, during which time he managed free dental clinics across the state, according to his website.

Moores has sponsored bills aimed at lessening restrictions on student athletes’ abilities to earn compensation from their names and likenesses, updating law enforcement technology and communication, and implementing a redistricting commission for the state.

As a supporter of law enforcement, he has stated that we would oppose efforts to defund the police.

Owner of a small business, Moores has voted in favor of several measures that helped small businesses in New Mexico throughout the pandemic.

Should he win the congressional seat, Moores’ agenda, according to his website, would be to repeal the state tax on social security, to continue to support law enforcement and crime stoppage, to safely reopen, and to waive suspension of new oil and gas leasing permits on federal lands.

Chris Manning

Libertarian Chris Manning works as an auditor for his family’s accounting business in Farmington.

Growing up in Kirtland, Manning was a high school athlete who excelled in both track and field as well as javelin throwing.

After high school, Manning went on to study at Arizona State University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in secondary education while serving in the Arizona Army National Guard.

In 2006, he spent two years deployed in Afghanistan. His questions about what was happening there, and why, led him to the Libertarian Party.

As a congressman, Manning would focus on healthcare, education, immigration, disproving the climate crisis, and ending non-defensive wars, according to his website.

Manning believes that healthcare should be “uncoupled” from employment, and that all New Mexicans should have access to health savings accounts.

His website states his desire to give parents more control of where their children receive their education, regardless of their zip codes.

The southern border is also on Manning’s radar. He would work to reunite families separated by the former presidential administration’s policies, and reform the way asylum seekers can apply for help.

Manning is also passionate about ending nearly two straight decades of war, and bringing servicemen and women in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia home.

Aubrey Dunn, Jr.

Aubrey Dunn, Jr. is on the ballot as an independent candidate. In the past, he ran for Congress as a Republican, and he ran for a position in the Senate as a Libertarian. He served as New Mexico Commissioner of Public Lands from 2015 to 2019, a position he was elected to as a Republican.

Dunn was born in Alamogordo and raised on a farm in Otero County. He graduated from Colorado State University with a bachelor’s degree in animal science.

After working in banking for 25 years, he now owns and operates the Gran Quivira Ranch, a cattle ranch located between Mountainair and Corona.

Dunn’s website says he is running as an independent because the “status quo of sending Democrats and Republicans to D.C. to represent New Mexicans has left [the] state on the brink of collapse.”

Dunn’s initiatives in Congress would be focused on balancing necessary environmental concerns with effectively utilizing the lands to produce revenue, according to his website.

Write-in Candidates

In addition to the four candidates listed on the ballot, Laura Olivas and Robert Ornelas are also seeking a seat in Congress as write-in candidates, both independent.

Olivas was raised in a border town, and according to her website, that upbringing is what has shaped her political perspective. She believes in multiculturalism, and is bilingual. If elected, she would focus on healthcare, climate change, education, minority inclusion, immigration reform, and ending gun violence.

In 2014, Ornelas ran for governor of California, and in 2016, he campaigned for a presidential run as well. According to his Twitter page, he lives in Anaheim, California.