Baca takes judge race

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Montaño defeats challengers

By Dave Kavanaugh

Fending off a challenge from fellow Las Vegas attorneys Anna Aragon and Suzanne Gaulin, Gerald Baca won convincingly in the Democratic primary for the Fourth Judicial District Division 1 seat on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, area voters also chose Las Vegas Police Chief Christian Montaño for a general election faceoff with incumbent San Miguel County Magistrate Judge Edward Gallegos, and they gave the nod to probate judge Charli Otero.

Baca garnered 3,976 votes for 57 percent of the vote. Aragon had 2,431, 35 percent; Gaulin 625, 9 percent. With no Republican opponent in November, Baca is all but assured of a return to the judge’s seat he has held since his appointment by Gov. Susana Martinez in April 2013 after longtime judge Eugenio Mathis stepped down.

Name recognition from a high-profile law practice and two judicial appointments likely buoyed Baca’s candidacy.

“I really think the people of the Fourth Judicial District are looking for judges to be people of integrity, to be fair and listen to them,” Baca said. “I see it as my duty to uphold that.”

While his first appointment to the bench was followed by an election defeat, Baca was hugely successful this time around, winning in a landslide. No secret, he said.

“I put together a stronger campaign team, and it took a little more work. It was a grass roots campaign. We didn’t do anything flashy; we just talked to the people one to one ... I”m so thankful to the people of the district that they saw fit to keep me in this position.”

Montaño, an LVPD veteran who has served as chief for several years, defeated fellow contenders Ruth Trujillo and Mark Dominguez for the Democratic nod in the race for the San Miguel County Magistrate position.

With 2,135 votes and 40 percent of the vote from Dems, Montaño emerged victorious. Trujillo had 1,842, 35 percent, and Dominguez 1,354, 25 percent.

Montaño now heads to a general election contest against incumbent Republican Edward Gallegos. Gallegos, who was appointed to the post by Gov. Susana Martinez, did not encounter opposition in the primary.

“I was grateful to be part of a great democratic process,” Montaño said. “I”m very respectful of my competitors and humbled that the public has chosen me to be pårt of the judicial system.”

Montaño acknowledged that there may be a learning curve transitioning from law enforcement to the judiciary, but he said he aspires to follow in the footsteps of others who have made that move.

“I will serve the public honorably and work hard for San Miguel County,” he said.

Another Democrat, current county clerk Melanie Rivera, ran uncontested for the county’s other magistrate judge position. No Republicans filed for that post. What that means is that, barring a successful candidacy from a third-party or independent challenger in November, Rivera will be one of the two magistrates in the county and will succeed the retiring Chris Najar.

In the race for San Miguel County probate judge, incumbent Charlynne “Charli” Otero (1,973 votes, 38 percent) held off challengers Gerald Garcia (1,898, 36 percent) and Lawrence Vigil (1,354, 26 percent) in a three-way election for the Democratic candidacy. No Republicans filed.

Otero was appointed to the post by the county commission in April 2013 after the sudden resignation of Horace Lucero.

“It was pretty close,” said Otero. “I expected it to be a tight race, though. I really tried to push on experience and then just getting people out to vote.”

Turnout, she said, was better than expected, although the race was a bit too close for comfort. “Experience really makes a difference. There are certain aspects of probate law you just have to know. I’ve really learned that in the past year.”

All election results remain unofficial until canvassing takes place.

Returns at a glance
Totals based on unofficial results


Anna Aragon
2,615  35.0%

Suzanne Gaulin
645  8.6%

Gerald Baca
4,214 56%

40 of 44 precincts reporting


2,135  40.1%

Mark Dominguez
1,354  25.4%

Ruth Trujillo
1,842 34.6%

All precincts reporting


Tomás Salazar
2,535  52.2%

Richard Vigil
2,318  47.8%

All precincts reporting


Bengie Regensberg
1,029  42,1%

Nick Salazar
1,415  57,9%

16 of 34 precincts  reporting



Rock Ulibarri
583  51.2%

Ron Ortega
556  48.8%

All precincts reporting


Arthur Padilla
655  56.6%

Albert Padilla
503  43.4%

All precincts reporting


Howie Morales
14,397  15,6%

Alan Webber
22,007 23.8 %

Lawrence Rael
16,422 17.
Gary King
32,212 34.9%

Linda Lopez
7,397  8%

474 of 1,493 precincts reporting



Joseph Vigil
892  16.6%

Gary Gold
2,244  41.7%

William Cruz
1,059 19.7%

Ben J. Lujan
927 17.2%

Charles Pacheco
149  2.9%

Tony A Valdez
105 2.0%

All precincts reporting


Patricia Gallegos
2,238  41.9%

Roland Medrano
1,712  32.0%

Alex Aragon
684 12.8%

Joe A Lucero
709 13.3%

All precincts reporting


Gerald Garcia
1,898  36.3%

Charli Otero
1,973  37.8%

Lawrence Vigil
1,354 25.9%

All precincts reporting


Paula Garcia
1,244  76.5%

Joseph JD Weathers
383  23.5%
All precincts reporting


John Paul Olivas
560  34.2%

Randall Regensberg
98  6.0%

George A. Trujillo
978  59.8%

All precincts reporting


Greg M. Laumbach
594  36.7%

Donaciano Trujillo
39  2.4%

Americk Padilla
510  31.5%

Eugene Martin Garcia
285  17.6%

Robert J. Torres
190  11.7%

All precincts reporting

Sources: Associated Press, San Miguel County Clerk and Mora County Clerk.