November 2, 2015

Las Cruces heads to the polls

New Mexico’s second largest city will go to the polls Tuesday and will vote for the mayor and city councilors in three districts.

register-to-voteThe Las Cruces elections have featured more high profile campaigning–and much more mudslinging–than other recent local elections, including those in Albuquerque.

Unlike Albuquerque’s recent elections, there are three contested districts and a mayoral race on the ballot this year.

This may lead to Las Cruces bucking the trend of reduced voter turnout in New Mexico (though it isn’t a sure thing).

Mayoral race

At the top of the ballot is the mayoral race where the top story is likely the massive amount of money that has been poured in by a federal PAC.

GOAL West PAC has spent tens of thousands of dollars in the race on advertisements including direct mail, flyers and other ways of reaching out to voters. The PAC, which has listed its treasurer as the brother of U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce, has went hard after incumbent Ken Miyagishima in an attempt to get Miguel Silva elected.

Miyagishima has largely been self-funding his campaign.

Miyagishima has been mayor of Las Cruces since 2007. Silva is a city councilor who has also been in the position since 2007.

Local businesswoman Eugenia Montoya Ortega is also running for mayor.

District 1

There are three candidates on the ballot, but only two who are actually running in Las Cruces’ District 1 city council race.

Eli Guzman and Kasandra Gandara are both vying for the seat, which is held by Griego.

Guzman, the vice chairman of the Las Cruces Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, has the backing of GOAL West PAC. Gandara is a longtime social worker and regional manager for the Children, Youth and Families Department. ProgressNow PAC, run by ProgressNow New Mexico*, has come to Gandara’s aid in recent weeks.

The third name on the ballot is Steve Calderazzo, represents a candidate who dropped out of the race but did so after ballots were already printed, so his name remains on the ballot.

District 2

District 2 has just two candidates on the ballot. The two are incumbent Gregory Z. Smith and Las Cruces businessman Philip VanVeen.

Smith is also the current Mayor Pro Tem and is running for a second term in the district. He has touted his achievements as city councilor in the last four years in his campaign.

VanVeen, who owns a security business and is president of the Las Cruces Host Lion’s Club, has campaigned on making the city more “business friendly.”

District 4

Another district with three names on the ballot, this time with three candidates still actively campaigning for the position. One, however, may not be able to hold the office if he wins.

Gilbert Vasquez, a hardware store employee, would need a pardon from Gov. Susana Martinez for a felony conviction in the 1980s. He does not meet Martinez’s pardon requirements.

The other two candidates are Jack Eakman and Richard Hall.

Eakman is a retired hospital administrator and describes himself as a progressive Democrat. He is being supported by ProgressNow PAC. Hall is a gymnastics coach and businessman who is a registered Democrat. Hall is supported by GOAL West PAC.

Correction: This story previously said that ProgressNow PAC was supporting Miyagishima. ProgressNow PAC is supporting Eakman and Gandara. We regret the error.

*Note: ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report but has no input or editorial control over the site, including story selection or specifics on any story, including this one.