roger montoya wins state house primary

Española Moving Arts founder Roger Montoya won by about 600 votes with a 13 percent lead over Matthew Gonzales for the Democratic bid for the District 40 seat in the New Mexico House of Representatives.

Progressive Democrats won bids for state legislative seats representing residents of Rio Arriba County.

Española Moving Arts founder Roger Montoya defeated Cimarrón Village Councilor Matthew Gonzales for the District 40 State House bid, while the Associated Press called Rio Arriba District 2 County Commissioner Leo Jaramillo’s win over incumbent Richard Martinez for the District 5 State Senate Democratic bid. 

Jaramillo said in a Tuesday phone call that his campaign was successful thanks to a “hard-working” campaign team that maneuvered around the challenges the pandemic poses.

“Thank you to every single voter in trusting their vote to me,” he said.

Martinez, who served in the Senate for 20 years, said he wants voters to know that he still cares about them.

“I’ll always be here,” he said. “Just because I’m not an elected official doesn’t mean that I’m not accessible. I’ve always been accessible and I hope that my successor has that same open-door policy and takes care of my constituents because they know that I was there and that I fought for them in more than one way.”

He plans to turn his attention now to family and friends, landscaping his house and going camping.

“There is life after being an elected official,” Martinez said. “Maybe now I can enjoy my retirement.”

As of 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jaramillo had received about 1,500 more votes than Martinez, with a roughly 20 percent lead, according to the Secretary of State’s website.

In Rio Arriba alone as of 8:30 a.m., Wednesday (6/4), with 32 out of the 33 precincts fully reporting and one partially reporting, the vote was split almost exactly evenly between the two candidates. Jaramillo was winning by two votes and .04 percent.

Jaramillo will now face Republican Diamantina Storment of Chama in the general election.

Montoya, who won by about 600 votes with a 13 percent lead, wrote in a Tuesday text message that he looks forward to facing his next opponent, Republican Justin Salazar-Torrez, in the general election, and that he wants to thank Gonzales for a strong and civil race. 

“I am humbled by this opportunity to serve in the State House of Representatives,” Montoya said. “If I am elected in November, I pledge to elevate my service to a new level on behalf of Northern New Mexico.”

Gonzales did not return a call and a text requesting comment.

In the race for the Congressional District Three Democratic bid, the Associated Press called that Santa Fe-based attorney Teresa Leger Fernandez won, defeating six other candidates, including former CIA operative Valerie Plame and state Rep. Joseph Sanchez, D-Alcalde.

“This is a win for communities, families and workers all across our district, and I am grateful for the trust that voters have placed in our campaign’s vision for Northern New Mexico,” Leger Fernandez said in a press release. “Even in a time when we must continue to stay physically distant and so much tries to divide us, this campaign has always been about interconnectedness and coming together.”

In Rio Arriba, Sanchez had a huge lead in the race, receiving over 50 percent of the vote, with 44 out of 46 precincts fully reporting and two partially reporting.

Not all elections, however, could be called as of Wednesday morning, as the shift to absentee ballots due to the pandemic slowed down the counting process, County Clerk Linda Padilla said.

By 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, according to the Secretary of State’s website, the race for the Congressional District Republican bid was still up in the air between former Santa Fe County Commissioner Harry Montoya and engineer Alexis Johnson.

With 385 out of 665 precincts fully reporting and 280 partially reporting, Johnson was beating Montoya by 1,000 votes, with a 3 percent lead.

Sixty-five out of 221 precincts were fully reporting and 156 were partially reporting in the First Judicial District Attorney race. Mary Carmack-Altwies was winning by about 9,000 votes, with a roughly 30 percent lead.

It looked as if Moises Morales, who has previously served as County Commissioner, would defeat Moises Peña, who has worked both in the County Sheriff’s Office and the Española Police Department, by 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Morales was beating Peña by about 500 votes, with a 35 percent lead, with 19 out of 21 precincts fully reporting and two partially reporting.

Morales could not be reached for comment before press time.

Peña said he will support the County Commission and Morales in his future endeavors.

“I was trying to bring a new voice and new endeavors,” Peña said. “However, if it’s not meant to be, and he’s declared the victor, I wish him the best.”

The polls

The coronavirus pandemic significantly altered the way the election was conducted. Thousands of County residents sent in absentee ballots, whereas a few voters slowly trickled into polling places.

The County received about 6,500 absentee ballots, which significantly slowed the counting process, Padilla said.

In past years, the County has usually received 250 or so absentee ballots, she said.

Throughout the day, presiding judges around the County reported low turnouts at the polls.

Poll workers ensured that voters maintained social distance, only allowing one voter in at a time. Masks and hand sanitizer were available at polling places, and workers constantly wiped down surfaces.

Gregory Lonewolf, presiding judge at the Santa Clara Senior Citizens Building, reported that 36 people had voted at that polling location by 1:30 p.m., and 67 by 5:30 p.m.

He also said several people were coming to hand in absentee ballots.

Victoria Garcia, presiding judge at the Abiquiú Rural Events Center, described the day as “very slow.”

By around 1 p.m., 30 voters had voted at the Center, and by around 6:30 p.m., 71 people had cast votes and four more were waiting in line.

Robert Montoya, presiding judge at the Velarde Community Center, said 67 people had cast votes by 12:45 p.m. and by 5:30 111 people had voted.

“Everything’s been going smooth,” he said. “Everybody’s pretty understanding about this social distancing stuff.”

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