All in the Family

Rio Arriba County Commissioner-elect James Martinez (right)gathered with campaign volunteers and supporters, Tuesday, at the Rock Christian Fellowship Church in Española. Ross Barela (center) was a supporter

    The Rio Arriba County Commission will see two political freshmen join its ranks.

    In the biggest upset among all the races in the County on Tuesday night, Leo Jaramillo defeated career politician Alex Naranjo in the race for the District 2 seat on the Commission.

    Jaramillo received 1,631 votes, or 56.7 percent, according to unofficial results from the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office.

    Jaramillo said the campaign reminded him, from the beginning, of a David versus Goliath race. At the Española Valley Fraternal Order of Eagles club, he held a small slingshot he said a child gave him earlier in the race.

    “So many people told me I was taking on a political giant, but I knew it could be done” he said.

    Naranjo, who received 1,244 votes, could not be reached for comment.

    He served his first term on the Commission beginning in 2015, has been an Española School Board member and Rio Arriba County Magistrate Judge, and is a nephew of the late Emilio Naranjo, a legend in County politics.

    Jaramillo said his campaign tapped into social media unlike previous ones, which garnered him a large following. He said his messaging was always about issues and never about candidates.

    He said his message to voters was about the County’s budget overrun, that taxes were at an all-time high because of fiscal irresponsibility, and having a transparent County government.

    “It was a candidate having the same issues with the easement issue, that was gonna fight with them, because it affects me too,” Jaramillo said, referring to a dispute with Santa Clara Pueblo over easements in San Pedro, where Jaramillo is from. “If we bring everybody together, including the Pueblo, we can come up with a solution.”

    Jaramillo also wants County Commission meetings to be held at a time of day when people who work full-time can attend, for minutes to be posted online, and for meetings to be streamed online.

    James Martinez defeated Elias Coriz by just five votes, 862-857, in the four-way race for the District 1 seat on the Commission.

    Surrounded by supporters at Rock Christian Fellowship Church, where he is an associate pastor, Martinez said, “We have kept this election in God’s hands.”

    “We went throughout the district and shared our message of positive change, and listened to the concerns of the residents,” he said when asked what he thinks won him the race. “I’m not in it for self-interest or personal gain, but to help others. And I think that’s what set me apart from my opponents.”

    Coriz, a former Española School Board member and County commissioner, did not respond to a phone call seeking comment.

    Lenny Ortiz, vegetation management coordinator for Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative and also a newcomer to politics, received 704 votes, and former Española city councilor Michelle Martinez received 632 votes.

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