November 2, 2021

Voters head to the polls for local elections

Voters throughout the state will go to the polls on Tuesday in local elections. The two biggest elections, in terms of voters, are those in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Both elections will feature incumbent mayors seeking a second term.

In Albuquerque, incumbent Mayor Tim Keller faces two opponents, Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and conservative radio host Eddy Aragon. The two public polls in the race show Keller with large leads in the three way race. The Albuquerque Journal poll, conducted between Oct. 15 and 21st, showed Keller with support of 53 percent of likely voters, compared to 20 percent for Gonzales and 13 percent for Aragon. Another 12 percent of voters remained undecided.

A poll conducted for KOB-TV showed Keller with the support of 41 percent of likely voters, to 22 percent for Gonzales and 18 percent for Aragon, with 18 percent undecided. 

The number to watch for is 50 percent. If any candidate receives 50 percent of the vote, they avoid a runoff election, which would be among the two best-performing candidates. Keller won a runoff election in 2017, defeating then-Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis.

In addition to the mayoral election, five of the city’s nine city council districts are also up for election.

In Santa Fe, incumbent Mayor Alan Webber also faces two other candidates, Santa Fe City Councilor Joanne Vigil Coppler and former congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson.

There have been no public polls of the Santa Fe race.

The winner will also need to get 50 percent of the vote, but Santa Fe uses ranked choice voting, which eliminates the need for a separate runoff election. Under ranked choice voting, voters can rank all the candidates on the ballot. If a candidate gets 50 percent of first choices, that candidate wins. 

But if no candidate gets 50 percent, the candidate who received the fewest votes is removed, and ballots that chose that candidate with their first choice will have their second choice picked. This continues until one candidate receives at least half the votes.

Other municipalities, and some school boards, across the state also will hold elections on Tuesday. Las Cruces, for example, will hold elections for three city council seats. 

School boards also have become a hot button electoral issue across the country, with conservatives targeting them, alleging that schools are teaching “critical race theory.” This includes districts in New Mexico.

Another high profile vote is in Albuquerque, where voters will decide on a $50 million gross receipts tax bond for the construction of a soccer stadium. The stadium would be owned by the city, but would be operated by New Mexico United, a professional soccer team that currently shares Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park with the minor league baseball team Albuquerque Isotopes. The city also owns that stadium, though it is operated by the Isotopes.