A hard-fought, close three-way race that will determine the ideological balance of the Bernalillo County Commission ended with a winner late Tuesday—Steven Michael Quezada.
Quezada, a member of the Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education and an actor best known for his supporting role in “Breaking Bad,” now goes into the fall general election race a clear favorite over Republican Patricia Paiz.
Quezada said he isn’t ruling Paiz’s challenge out, despite his district’s Democratic leanings.
“We still got to move forward,” he said. “We still got to fight.”
Quezada narrowly edged out opponents Adrián Pedroza and Robert Chavez by winning just over 35 percent of the vote for the district, which covers Albuquerque’s South Valley and Southwest Mesa. Pedroza won roughly 32 percent of the vote while Chavez claimed 31 percent in one of the tightest primaries of the night.
The county commission seat received extra scrutiny after a political action committee backed by lawyers and developers behind the controversial Santolina planned living community in the city’s West Side inserted itself into the race.
Pedroza, a vocal opponent of Santolina who criticized it as sprawl development, focused on the issue aggressively during his campaign. A PAC, New Mexicans for New Mexico, attacked Pedroza and supported Quezada and Chavez.
Throughout the campaign, Quezada pointed to his vote against Santolina on the APS school board as evidence of his disapproval of the project. At the same time, he wouldn’t rule out potentially supporting some of the 80 subsidies Santolina developers are currently seeking from the county.
Quezada attributed his primary win to his support of behavioral health and economic development in the Southwest Mesa.
“Despite whatever attacks came out way, we just stuck to what we wanted to do,” he said.
On the day before the primary, an unregistered PAC sent a mailer attacking both Quezada and Pedroza with especially vicious allegations. Quezada said he doesn’t think the attacks from the PACs are over.
“We saw the hit piece they put on me yesterday, so there’s no way there’s done,” he said.
He praised his two primary opponents.
“I tip my hat to Adrián Pedroza and Robert Chavez,” Quezada said. “I want them to continue to be great community people.”