Democratic Candidate Roger Montoya defeated his Republican Challenger Justin Salazar-Torrez with 58 percent of the vote to become the new New Mexico House of Representatives member for District 40.

    Democratic County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo will become the State Senator for District 5 defeating his Republican rival Diamontana Pardo Storment with 73 percent of the vote.

    Democratic Representative Susan Herrera, who ran unopposed, will continue to be the New Mexico House Representative for district 41.

    Democratic candidate Moises Morales Jr. defeated his Republican opponent Cyril Martinez 3,510 votes to 1,712 to become the county commissioner for District 3 of Rio Arriba County.

    Unofficially, 16,590 votes were cast in Rio Arriba County. About 4,239 Absentee ballots were cast and 7,122 early in person votes for a total of 11,361 early votes and 5,229 votes were cast on election day. There were 9,111 votes cast in Rio Arriba County total, during the 2016 General election. Turnout in Rio Arriba County was 65 percent of all registered voters.

    County Bureau of Election Chief Michele Jordan said there were no issues of voter intimidation or problems at the polls, there were some reports of people electioneering too close to the precincts but they were resolved quickly.

    “Things went wonderful, it was a pretty smooth election and we had a lot of voters,” Jordan said.

    Nov. 3 was also Jaramillo’s birthday. He said after meeting with the other Democratic Candidates at San Pedro Plaza as polls closed, he was headed home to celebrate with a caramel birthday cake and anxiously watch the results come in.

    “You know, I’m really excited because of the huge turnout and I’m so thankful the people here trusted me with their vote," he said.

    Montoya said after the polls ended he had a quiet evening at home watching the results come in while eating dinner with his family.

    “This seems good,” Montoya said. “I’m feeling good and I’m feeling positive and I’m very humbled and positive with the way the voters are speaking.”

First-timers

    Alexandra Archuleta cast a ballot for the first time at Chimayo’s La Arboleda Senior Center.

    “It’s so serious,” she said. “I kinda feel jittery, nervous.”

    She voted for Joe Biden, but broke with the Democrats by voting for Justin Salazar-Torres.

    “He’s a good man, I trust him to take care of our community,” she said.

    Archuleta voted with friend Joanna Salazar, who voted similarly.

    “I don’t care for what Trump’s been up to,” she said.

    Salazar Torrez was stumping outside the senior center with his mom, Bernadette L. Salazar, around noon on Election Day. He was raised in Chimayo and has family roots in the area.

    “He’s a wonderful person, loving, respectful. I know he’ll do good for the community,” she said through tears of pride.

    Rai Dominguez volunteered for the County to help voters cast their ballots and offered his praise of Linda Padilla’s handling of the election.

    “She’s been doing a great job as County Clerk," he said. "The packages were ready for each precinct, the stuff is all in place, she follows all the regulations and she’s a team player.”

Clean precincts

    At the Velarde Community Center, voters not only had to use hand sanitizer and sit at sanitized tables, they also had temperature checks at the door before entering. A poll worker said that nobody had a fever or was above 99 degrees.

    By 2 p.m., 130 voters had voted, and Precinct Judge Geraldine Martinez Sanchez said that was on par with recent years, and that while most of the crowd came in the morning, it was a steadier pace throughout the day compared to other years.

    One voter walked in just to drop off an absentee ballot.

    Dolores Roybal and Brenda Jaramillo, supporters for Justin Salazar Torrez, stopped outside the precinct in the afternoon as they traveled around the District throughout the day, and met another group of supporters there.

    Shamarie Arnaudville, a voter from Velarde, said the most important races were the presidential election, where she supported Trump, and the hospital Mill Levy.

    Arnaudville said she did not support Trump at first, but the last four years have been the best for her family.

    “We’ve done better than ever before,” she said. “I don’t like the way he speaks publicly, but I do like his policies that he’s passed and some of the things that he’s done.”

    Arnaudville said she liked how he made other countries pay their fair share in organizations like the World Health Organization and NATO.

    While he has not done the best job handling the pandemic, Arnaudville said his actions were more important than what he says publicly, and that more decisions were handled at the state level.

    Another Velarde voter, Debbie Harris, said the presidential race was definitely the most important, but did not say for whom she voted.

    She said there were issues on the ballot that she was not aware of, and wishes there had been better communication about the ballot questions, but said they were self-explanatory and voted based on common sense.

    Harris said she thought about voting early or absentee but decided to go to her polling place on election day.

    “I don’t have a lot of faith in the postal service right now,” Harris said. “So, it’s always better if you can come in.”

Voting veteran

    Kathy Mullalily served four years in the U.S. Navy and cast a straight Republican ticket at Fairview Elementary.

    “I don’t want our country going in the crapper,” she said. “I’m very conservative.”

    Ester Price voted around the same time, and for the same candidate.

    “I care deeply about the schools, about jobs, about getting all these people out of work back into work,” she said. She also took an interest in the County Clerk election, even though it was uncontested.

    “That’s a really important position, with how they give out licenses and permits,” Price said.

    Fairview saw a steady stream of voters throughout the day, with a short line sometimes forming but quickly dissipating. 291 votes had been cast as of 4:50 pm, according to Precinct Judge Glenda Martinez.

    Sonia Sabatini was there to poll-watch as a representative of the Republican party.

    “They’re doing a great job, everything’s running very smoothly,” she said.

    Few provisional ballots were cast. One such ballot was cast by Jon Lucier, who had problems with his registration despite completing it two months ago, according to him. He hopes his vote will be counted, but he’s uncertain about whether or not his voice was heard.

Poll watcher

    Poll-watcher Judith Chaddick was posted outside Sombrillo Elementary School early when polls first opened. Her organization, Common Cause, is a non-partisan voter advocacy group which had poll watchers stationed across Santa Fe County.

    “I’m mainly here to help educate people, to get out the vote,” she said. “I can help voters with system issues, so if they need to get a provisional ballot they can get it checked and verified.”

    Security from Española Public Schools was also monitoring the perimeter of the site.

    Precinct Judge Geri Galvan is a second-generation precinct judge. Her mom, Margaret, has been a precinct judge for as long as memory serves, but now being 91 she has retired this year.

    Galvan picked up the torch and has been mentoring her daughter, Alicia, in how to run a polling site.

    “It’s been very steady today, a lot of early and absentee ballots were already submitted,” Geri Galvan said.

    “Working here is very interesting," she said. "It’s exciting to learn about the elections and governments and to see the same people from the community come back year after year. How do you give back to the community? We’re helping people.”

    Alicia agrees.

    “New voters are so excited to get to be a part of the process,” she said. "We love giving back."

    Regular sanitizing was taking place, but other common measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 were not enforceable at the poll site.

    “We can’t require people to wear masks,” Galvan said, “So we put anyone without a mask in the back where they’re away from other people and close to the exit.”

    About 270 people had voted at 4:30 pm. Robin Martinez of the state’s Republican party was present to observe.

    “I have no concerns about this location, it looks very good,” she said.

    “We’ve had zero problems,” Galvan said. “It’s been great. Zero provisionals, a lot of drop-offs.”

Not about party

    Fatima Woody cast her ballot at Chimayo’s La Arboleda Senior Center. The presidential vote was important to her, but she declined to say who she voted for.

    “To me, it’s not about Democrat or Republican,” Woody said. “It’s about what they say, whether they do what they say, and their history.”

    Voting for the offices down-ballot proved a little more challenging.

    “It’s hard because I don’t know them personally, just what I’ve heard,” she said.

    Woody said she’s voted all her life, but this year felt more urgent.

    “There’s more pressure, it’s been a nerve-wracking year, with COVID and everything, I just had to vote,” she said.

    There was a short line in the morning at Chimayó, but it quickly disappeared. According to Precinct Judge Heather Martinez, 173 people had voted by 12:30 pm. She said turnout was good, and estimated it to be about double from the last election.

    No provisional ballots had been issued at that time.

Less traffic

    Alcalde, like other polling places, saw less traffic than normal with so many voters voting early and absentee.

    By noon, 125 people had voted at the community center.

    Precinct Judge Theresa Martinez said the crowd was light with no issues, and was lighter than in the June primary and there were fewer voters than previous elections.

    Martinez said she has been working at precincts for 30 years since she was in college, and that it was a family tradition with her mother having also worked polls.

    At the Alcalde precinct, every table was sanitized immediately after someone left to submit their filled-out ballot.

    A group of campaign workers for Salazar-Torres were outside the precinct. They said they supported his pro-life position and that he was a dedicated father.

    One worker, Kayla DeVargas, sat with crutches and said, “I broke my foot, but I still have to support Justin.”

    Maria Pinto, an Alcalde voter, did not say who she supported for president but said that race was the most important to her. She also said the bond question supporting senior citizen facilities and the Mill Levy for Presbyterian Española Hospital were important.

Cooperation wanted

    At the San Pedro Community Center, there were light crowds and no issues according to poll workers.

    Senate District 5 Democratic candidate Leo Jaramillo stopped by the polling place in the afternoon while making his way across precincts around the District.

    Jaramillo spoke with one voter, Sam (who declined to reveal his last name) who spoke with him about Native American issues, saying he wanted Natives and locals to join together and work out a better system with the Bureau of Indian Affairs without fighting.

    He said he supported Jaramillo, and also was tired of seeing advertisements from the 2nd Congressional District election between Xochitl Torres Small and Yvette Herrell.

    First time voters were out in force in Española, at the Lucero Center first time voter Patrica Naranjo said she tried to vote early but arrived too late, but figured because there were so many early voters there wouldn’t be much of a crowd on election day.

“I just don’t like what’s going on and something needs to be done,” Naranjo said. “If trump got elected again and I didn’t vote it could have been my vote that counted.”

Lynn Baca another first time voter who voted Trump cited Biden’s tax plan and abortion as her main concerns.

“I believe he’s made a lot of change for us especially for the middle class,” Baca said. “There’s been a lot of good change since Donald Trump became president and I support him.”

Baca said she didn’t really pay attention to the local elections but she noted that she did vote to keep the judges on her ballot because she had heard that both of them were doing good work.

“I just hope we can stay peaceful no matter what is to come,” Baca said.

Another  first time voter Dakota Simmons said the president’s handling of the COVID-19 Pandemic was a major concern that brought her to vote.

“I don’t think Trump knows what he’s doing,” Simmons said.  “I felt this is a very important election, a lot of people don’t feel like their vote is going to count.”

Simmons said that in previous elections she felt that way too, like her vote didn’t count but this year she felt different.

“I’m just one person but I think I can help,” Simmons Said.

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