The tony neighborhoods tucked into the juniper-dotted grasslands on the east side of the Sandia Mountains represent yet another battleground in New Mexico’s water wars, one in which the state’s top water official has abandoned one side for the other. Last week, testimony ended in a trial over whether a private company can pump more water—114 million gallons more each year—from the Sandia Basin. Nancy Benson and her husband live in San Pedro Creek Estates, where they built their retirement home in 2000 after living in Albuquerque. She is shocked the state would consider granting the application after rejecting it previously. “This area is fully appropriated, there is nothing extra,” she said.
Santa Fe voters rejected another tax increase, this time in a low-turnout special election. The increase would have raised the gross receipts tax in Santa Fe County by one-sixteenth of one percent, or 6.25 percent on every $100 spent. The results were anything but close—70 percent of the voters opposed the increase. Unlike the sugary-drink tax election, which drew a lot of campaign spending and relatively high turnout, unofficial numbers from the Santa Fe County clerk showed just under 8,000 voters cast ballots for the gross receipts tax election, less than ten percent of the county’s registered voters. The state’s base gross receipts tax, which applies to most goods and services but not food or medicine, is 5.125 percent.
New Mexicans are headed to the polls on election day —and it appears voters are out in full force in some of the state’s most populous counties. In Bernalillo County, more than 1,000 voters turned out within 15 minutes of the polls opening. A spokesman for the Bernalillo County Clerk’s office said within the first hour, voting convenience centers saw about 4,000 voters overall. As of 11:00 a.m., four hours after voting convenience centers opened, 14,275 votes were cast in Bernalillo County. Bernalillo County has also received 222 returned absentee ballots.