Close races and new faces in as unofficial voting results are counted

Pyskoty edges Smith out of Bernalillo County Commission seat

Some close races in the East Mountains were decided in the wee hours as the unofficial vote results were tallied by poll workers around New Mexico.

Democrat Jessica Velasquez was narrowly defeated by Republican Gregg Schmedes, a medical doctor, by a 168-vote margin and just over a percentage point difference. Both were seeking their first public office in running for the state House of Representatives District 22 seat which includes the East Mountains.

Likewise, Democrat Charlene Pyskoty eked out a victory over Republican Jim Smith, who had been appointed to the position after it was vacated by Wayne Johnson, who himself was appointed to the State Auditor position. Pyskoty won by a margin of 1,726 votes, a lead of 3.12 percentage points.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Manuel Gonzales hung on to his seat, with 54.59 percent of the vote. Democrat Gonzales was challenged by Republican Lou Golson for the position.

The Santa Fe County Commission District 3 seat, which has been held by brothers Mike or Robert Anaya for 16 years, is changing hands to Rudy Nelson Garcia, a Democrat. Mike Anaya challenged him for the position, running without party affiliation.

In Torrance County, Republican Kevin McCall bested Democrat Andrew Homer for a seat on the Torrance County Commission representing District 1. McCall won with nearly 70 percent of the vote.

Legislative Races

The District 22 House of Representatives seat includes portions of Bernalillo, Santa Fe and Sandoval counties. With all precincts reporting unofficial vote tallies, Republican Gregg Schmedes came out on top with 8,179 votes to Democrat Jessica Velasquez’ 8,011 votes, a 50.52 percent to 49.48 percent margin, a difference of 168 votes.

In Bernalillo County, voters favored Schmedes with a 51.66 percent total; Velasquez got 48.34 percent of Bernalillo County voters.

While neither Velasquez nor Schmedes could be reached a comment on this story, Velasquez posted on Facebook, “In the end, I came up short 168 votes. This has been the honor of a lifetime, and I’m proud to have earned 8,011 votes in District 22. Thank you all so much for your support, your hard work, and your commitment to creating the kind of community we can be proud of. We’ve built something beautiful and powerful together, and the work will go on.”

In Santa Fe County, voters tilted for Schmedes by 63.15 percent over 36.85 percent for Velasquez.

In Sandoval County, Velasquez came out on top, with 59.46 percent of the vote over 40.54 percent for Schmedes.

The District 50 House of Representatives seat will stay in the hands of incumbent Democrat Matthew McQueen, who faced a tough challenge from independent candidate Jarratt Applewhite, who ran without party affiliation, taking on the system itself in the race.

Overall, the large district, which includes parts of Bernalillo, Santa Fe, Torrance and Valencia counties, favored McQueen with 58.73 percent of the vote to Applewhite’s 41.27 percent.

In Bernalillo County, 72.34 percent of voters opted for McQueen; in Santa Fe County that number was 68.49 percent; and in Valencia County McQueen garnered 51.78 percent of the vote. Applewhite got 56.54 percent of Torrance County voters.

County Races and Questions

In Santa Fe County, nearly every race on the ballot was sought by unopposed Democrats.

Without opposition, Henry Roybal was elected to the County Commission District 1 seat; Gus Martinez was elected County Assessor; Adan Mendoza was elected Sheriff; and Cordilia Montoya was elected Probate Judge.

The only contested Santa Fe County race was for the District 3 County Commission seat which represents the southern end of the county, including the Edgewood area.

Democrat Rudy Nelson Garcia, despite past DWI convictions arising late in the campaign, bested challenger Mike Anaya, who ran without party affiliation for the position he had held previously as a Democrat.

Garcia got 60.51 percent with 5,515 votes to Anaya’s 39.49 percent and 3,600 votes.

A regional gross receipts tax was approved by voters by a 73.37 percent to 26.63 percent margin. The vote reauthorized an existing gross receipts tax which finances operational and capital expenditures of the North Central Regional Transit District, which runs public transportation in the county, including the Edgewood area.

In Santa Fe County, four Magistrate Judges ran unopposed and were elected: David Segura, George Anaya, Jr., John Rysanek, and Donita Sena.

In Torrance County, three races were sought by unopposed Republicans. Ryan Schwebach was elected to the County Commission in District 2; Jesse Lucero was elected County Assessor; and Jose Martin Rivera, currently the Undersheriff, was elected to succeed Heath White as Sheriff.

In the contested races, Republican Kevin McCall got 67.74 percent with 1,153 votes over Democrat Andrew Homer, who got 549 votes for 32.26 percent.

McCall said he is looking forward to pursuing more wind and solar projects for the county, and said, “I’m just excited to move the county forward in a direction that’s positive for all of us.”

For Probate Judge, Republican Josie Chavez got 61.55 percent of the vote over Democrat Lucy Orio, who got 38.45 percent.

In Torrance County, unopposed Republican candidate and outgoing Sheriff Heath White was elected Magistrate Judge.

In Bernalillo County, political newcomer Charlene Pyskoty bested veteran Jim Smith, who had previously served in the House of Representatives for District 22.

“I’m just so excited about serving the entire community,” Pyskoty said Nov. 7, noting that the district had been “very Republican” for some time, and adding that she wants to represent everyone in the district. “It’s geographically so diverse, and demographically diverse. I really want to be the representative for everybody and all of the communities within the district.”

Smith could not be reached for comment.

Smith was appointed by Gov. Susana Martinez after retiring from the state house seat. In a Byzantine game of musical chairs, Smith was appointed to finish the term of Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson in representing District 3.

Johnson had been appointed to finish the term of State Auditor Tim Keller, when Keller was elected Mayor of Albuquerque. Martinez later appointed Gregg Schmedes to finish out the vacant District 22 House seat Smith had left behind.

In a squeaker, Pyskoty got 51.56 percent of the vote compared to 48.44 percent for Smith.

Meanwhile, incumbent Sheriff Manuel Gonzales, a Democrat, hung on to his seat, with 54.59 percent to 45.41 percent for his Republican challenger, Louis Golson.

Bernalillo County had several bond issues on the ballot, which all passed with large margins.

General obligation bonds of $1.75 million for libraries in the county, passed with 74.09 percent of voters in favor.

Bonds for public safety and other county buildings for $16.75 million passed by 74.28 percent of voters in favor.

Parks and recreation bonds of $4.95 million passed with 77.5 percent of voters in favor of it.

Transportation bonds for $8.5 million passed with 73.9 percent of the vote in favor.

Storm drainage and utilities bonds of $5.5 million passed with 78.6 percent of voters in favor.

Public housing bonds of $1.25 million passed with 78.6 percent of voters in favor.

Flood control bonds of $25 million passed with 74.21 percent of voters in favor.

Running unopposed, Democrat Cristy Jo Carbón-Gaul was elected Probate Judge; Democrat Tanya Giddings was elected County Assessor; and Democrat Debbie O’Malley was re-elected to the Bernalillo County Commission.

Statewide Highlights

Democrat Martin Heinrich, with 1,347 of 1,492 precincts reporting statewide, is on top with 53.77 percent of the vote, with 15.46 percent going to Libertarian Gary Johnson and 30.76 percent going to Republican Mick Rich.

In Santa Fe County, Henrich garnered 74.45 percent of the vote, while Johnson got 11.37 percent and Rich got 14.18 percent.

Torrance County voters tilted for Rich, giving him 45.43 percent of the vote, Johnson 17.68 percent, and Heinrich 36.89 percent.

In the race for District 1 in the House of Representatives, Democrat Debra Haaland got 59.02 percent of the vote over 36.43 percent for Republican Janice Arnold Jones and 4.56 percent for Libertarian Lloyd Princeton.

In Torrance County, those percentages were flipped, with Arnold-Jones getting 58.77 percent of the vote to Haaland’s 36.20 percent. The Santa Fe County portion of the district also went for Jones with 59.15 percent of the vote.

With 224,382 votes cast in Bernalillo County for this race, the 59.99 percent of voters who chose Haaland outnumbered voters in the other counties represented in this district by a wide margin. From Sandoval County, 10,237 votes were cast in the race; in Santa Fe County, 2,514; in Torrance County 5,312 and in Valencia, 2,059 votes.

Voter Turnout

With 1,261,639 people eligible to vote in this election, 54.12 percent turned up at the polls, with ballots cast by 682,805 voters.

In Bernalillo County, turnout was at 56.59 percent, with 237,865 voters heading to the polls in 441 precincts.

In Santa Fe County, 66.97 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, 66,967 voters.

In Torrance County, 54.94 percent of the 9,765 eligible voters headed to the polls yesterday.

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