Rev. Kathy Hudak speaks to a group of asylum seekers as part of the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries. She is presenting a video on the rights the asylum-seekers have.

‘The need is there’: Borderland Ministries helps migrants and asylum seekers

Ana Reza has served as bridge chaplain for the Rio Grande Borderland Ministries of the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande for about three years. The bridge chaplain moves back and forth between the U.S. and Mexico to greet incoming asylum seekers or immigrants seeking legal entry into the U.S.

“I do want people to know how grateful we are in everything we’ve done so far and we look forward to build new relationships and to continue to build the new relationships we have now,” Reza said. “The need is there.”

Sometimes Reza sees up to 900 people a day coming across the border. “It’s a lot of work. Pray for us that we be able to continue to provide a safe space because if it wasn’t for the shelters, Border Patrol would just drop them off at the airport and we see how that’s going,” Reza said.

State Supreme Court dismisses Couy Griffin appeal over removal from office

The New Mexico Supreme Court denied an appeal from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin in the case that removed him from office based on his actions during the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Griffin failed to file a statement of issues within 30 days of his notice of appeal. By state statute, this failure is grounds for the case’s dismissal. “This is an affirmation that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment can and should be enforced against all the January 6th insurrectionists who took an oath to defend the Constitution, whether they are current or former officeholders.

BernCo commission votes State Rep. Maestas to fill state senate vacancy

The Bernalillo County Commission voted to appoint New Mexico State Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas to the state Senate seat recently vacated by Jacob Candelaria Tuesday night. Maestas was one of seven applicants for the seat. Other applicants included Julie Radoslovich, Steve Gallegos and Em Ward. “I want to thank every member of the public that came both in-person and on Zoom to participate in both tonight’s regular meeting and the appointment for Senate District 26,” Bernalillo County Commission Chairwoman Adriann Barboa said. “We received hundreds of emails about this and public participation is a crucial part of a healthy democracy.”

Barboa said that the County received 66 emails supporting Radoslovich, who was principal at South Valley Academy, 46 emails supporting Maestas and 14 supporting Ward with a few other emails supporting the other contenders. 

The commission approved Maestas on a 3-to-2 vote with Barboa and Debbie O’Malley as the votes against.

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FEMA seeks public comment on Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking public comment on the Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act interim final rule. The public comment period runs until January 13, 2023. The Hermit’s Peak/Calf Canyon Fire Assistance Act provides compensation for victims of the fire that the U.S. Forest Service began as a prescribed burn in the Sante Fe National Forest in San Miguel County. This compensation may cover eligible losses, including personal injury, property loss,  business loss or financial loss. “FEMA’s Interim Final Rule guides the claims process and describes necessary documentation, evaluation criteria and compensation available for those impacted by the fire and subsequent flooding,” A FEMA news release states.

Otero County Sheriff David Black removes the microphone from former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin during a heated exchange at the regular Otero County Commission meeting November 10, 2022.

Couy Griffin confronts DuBois over appointment, derails meeting

Former Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin caused a fuss at the Otero County Commission meeting last week when his time at the public comment table became so heated, one of the sitting county commissioners plans to file a restraining order against Griffin. Griffin was unhappy that Stephanie DuBois, a Democrat, was appointed to his old seat after Griffin was removed from office based on the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment’s Disqualification Clause after his conviction related to his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection in Washington, D.C.

“I’m going to have to do what I’m going to have to do,” DuBois said Monday. 

DuBois deemed Griffin’s rant as a verbal assault and is in the process of filing a restraining order against Griffin. “Couy Griffin, duly elected and legitimate county commissioner of District 2 as well as founder of Cowboys for Trump and I’d like to just start out by saying looking up here at you Stephanie (DuBois) in that seat is a total disgrace,” Griffin declared. 

Griffin said that he felt DuBois’ appointment was disgraceful because she has run for office in Otero County eight times including in last week’s election and has lost each time. DuBois interjected and Griffin said that “I’m talking right now.

NMAG and SOS issue warning amid election misinformation campaigns

As New Mexico’s counties begin certifying vote totals in the 2022 Midterm election, New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas issued a joint statement on Nov. 15 that warned of possible disruptions to the election certification process during county commission meetings. “This week, New Mexico’s county commissions are playing their vital role in the administration of our elections by performing their legal duties as the county canvassing boards in their respective counties,” the statement said. “The ‘canvass’ is the process of reconciling and confirming the accuracy of the election results and reporting those results to the county and then to the state. Under the law, these county boards support the county clerk in the canvass of the election and are mainly responsible for ensuring the timely certification of the county clerk’s report of canvass.

Gabe Vasquez narrowly won the U.S. 2nd Congressional District seat in New Mexico in the 2022 Midterm Election.

Vasquez declares victory, Herrell concedes in close congressional race

After a close race for Congressional District 2, Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez declared victory over Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell, who conceded. The unofficial vote count for the Congressional District 2 race showed Democrat Gabe Vasquez at 50.32 percent, or 96,556 votes, and 49.68 percent of the vote or 95,332 votes going to Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell. 

Update: The Associated Press projected Gabe Vasquez as the winner at 8:36 a.m. on Thursday. “Make no mistake about it, there’s nothing that happens in Washington that New Mexico can’t do better,” Vasquez said in a press release. “To everyone out there struggling, no matter whether you voted for me or not, please know this: I see you, I hear you, and I’ll fight my heart out for you, because public service is a sacred responsibility that I will never take for granted.”

Herrell conceded to Vasquez Wednesday afternoon. “While we are disappointed by the final results, I am incredibly proud of our team and the work we did serving our district, and I am grateful for the steadfast support of so many who helped us along the way,” Herrell said.

Deputy Otero County Clerk Denise Guerra and a poll worker do election night work on November 8, 2022 at the Otero County Clerk's Office in Alamogordo.

Two recounts coming in state House races, congressional race outside recount threshold

The 2nd Congressional District race between Republican incumbent Yvette Herrell and Democratic challenger Gabe Vasquez is still too close to call with both candidates having 50 percent of the vote. Two state House seats, meanwhile, appear poised to trigger automatic recounts. Vasquez has 96,253 votes in his favor and Herrell has 95,238 votes in her favor, a margin of 1,025 votes for Vasquez, according to the New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office election results page. 

“These are unofficial results- that’s important to know- they don’t become official until the state canvassing board meets and certifies them on Nov. 29,” New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office spokesman Alex Curtas said. “Only then will we know whether or not the result is within the margin to trigger an automatic recount.”

The margin to activate an automatic recount is one quarter of one percent of the vote total.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at a Democratic Party rally in Albuquerque on November 3, 2022.

Michelle Lujan Grisham wins a second-term after bruising campaign

Tuesday night ended with incumbent Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham winning reelection to the governor’s office. “Tonight, New Mexico said yes – yes to hope, yes to growth, yes to fighting for our neighbors, not against them,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “Tonight New Mexico said yes to equal justice under the law, New Mexico said yes to economic opportunity for all, New Mexico said yes to more health care for families, better education for kids and more economic freedom for workers and students.” The expensive campaign featured millions of dollars of ads on each side, with attack ads blanketing airwaves and mailers filling inboxes for weeks. Lujan Grisham spoke about protecting abortion access, while Ronchetti campaigned on crime, saying it was out of control in the state.

FiveThirtyEight predicts Lujan Grisham, Herrell favored to win reelection

The two biggest races in the 2022 General Election are the governor’s race and Congressional District 2. Poll analysis website FiveThirtyEight predicts that incumbents Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell, a Republican, will win reelection Nov. 8. FiveThirtyEight has an election breakdown of when to expect election results and a forecasting model that shows based on polls how contenders may do once ballots are counted. The Deluxe version “simulates the election 40,000 times to see who wins most often,” Nathaniel Rakich and Elena Mejía say in the FiveThirtyEight project.