November 8, 2017

Big night for Las Cruces progressives in city elections

Democratic candidates enjoyed a good night nationwide and in New Mexico on Tuesday. In New Mexico, three Democrats won three city council elections in Las Cruces.

In one case, they flipped a Republican city council seat to Democratic.

Gabe Vasquez, Gill Sorg and Yvonne Flores, all of whom ran on progressive platforms, won Tuesday night according to unofficial numbers.

The races are officially nonpartisan, but party lines were evident in the campaigns.

Flores defeated incumbent Ceil Levatino, who was the only Republican on the city council. She won 57 percent to 43 percent.

Another Democrat won by an even wider margin. Vasquez defeated Bev Courtney 70 percent to 30 percent.

Sorg received 51 percent of the total vote in a three-way race. Steven A. Montanez received 41 percent and William P. Fuller received 7 percent.

The three will be sworn in on Nov. 20.

One councilor who was not up for election, Mayor Pro Tem Gregory Z. Smith, is an independent. The rest of the councilors are Democrats, as is Mayor Ken Miyagishima.

One Democrat did lose in Las Cruces Tuesday—Municipal Judge Kent Yalkut. He lost to another Democrat, Joy Goldbaum, who won with 51 percent of the vote. Yalkut received 28 percent of the vote. Nelson Goodin, a Republican who was a prosecutor under then-District Attorney Susana Martinez, won just 21 percent of the vote.

There are no runoff elections in Las Cruces, so a candidate didn’t need 50 percent of the votes  to win the elections without a runoff, as in Albuquerque.

“Tonight, Las Cruces went out to vote and showed the state that when quality candidates who want to invest in their communities are on the ballot they win,” according to a statement sent out by the Democratic Party of New Mexico. “We’re excited to see the work Gabe Vasquez, Gill Sorg and Yvonne Flores can accomplish for Las Cruces. We are incredibly grateful to the volunteers who believed in Democratic candidates, and made this success possible.”

The wins echoed success by Democrats nationwide. The party retained the Virginia governor’s mansion by a wider-than-expected margin when Ralph Northam won in a hard-fought race against Republican Ed Gillespie. Northam defeated Gillespie 53.7 percent to 45.1 percent, with Libertarian Clifford Hyra taking 1.2 percent. Downballot, Virginia Democrats also made large gains in the state’s House of Delegates.

In New Jersey, Democrat Phil Murphy won 55.4 percent to 42.5 percent over Republican Kim Guadagno and will replace Republican Chris Christie.

Election day in Albuquerque next week will feature two run-offs, with State Auditor Tim Keller, a Democrat, facing City Councilor Dan Lewis, a Republican. In Council District 5, the seat Lewis left to run for mayor, Robert Aragon, a Republican, will face Cynthia Borrego, a Democrat.