Challenger Rock Ulibarri succeeded Tuesday in ousting incumbent Ron Ortega from his seat on the San Miguel County Commission in a close race while Commissioner Art Padilla was able to stave off a challenge from challenger Albert Padilla in the District 3 race.
Ulibarri received 27 more votes than Ortega, walking away with 51 percent of the vote. Results are unofficial until canvassing takes place on Friday.
Art Padilla, meanwhile, garnered nearly 57 percent of the vote to defeat his challenger.
Ulibarri and Art Padilla, both Democrats, will still have to run in the general election in November, but with no Republicans filing for those positions they will likely be unopposed and take office in January.
An exuberant Ulibarri thanked his supporters after the final results came in.
“I won’t let you down,” he said. “I’ll work very hard, and I want to thank the Optic for not endorsing me because when they did last time it was the kiss of death... I’m going to get to work immediately.”
Art Padilla also celebrated his victory with family and friends. This will be his fourth term as a county commissioner.
“I want to thank all my supporters, the people who believe in honest and truthful government,” he said. “I really appreciate their vote. We’ll be there for them. I’ll be there whenever they need me.”
In the race for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, former Las Vegas police chief Gary Gold easily defeated the five others running in that race, taking about 46 percent of the vote. His closest competitor was William Cruz, a veteran police officer who also served a stint as city police chief. Cruz walked away with about 20 percent of the vote in that crowded race.
No Republican filed to run for the sheriff’s post.
In the race for assessor, Patricia D. Gallegos, the current deputy assessor, easily defeated her three competitors, taking about 42 percent of the vote. She, too, will face no Republican challenger during the general election.
Local House races
Two years after Richard Vigil lost his re-election bid to Tomás Salazar, he went back to voters and asked for another shot at representing his old House district.
On Tuesday, District 70 Democrats told him no thanks, choosing to stick with Salazar. With 29 of 30 precincts fully reporting, Salazar was leading with 52.2 percent of the vote.
No Republican filed in the race, which means that barring a last-minute challenge from an independent or minor party challenger, Salazar will sail into office unopposed during the November General Election.
In another Democratic rematch — the one between longtime state Rep Nick Salazar, of Ohkay Owingeh, and former representative Bengie Regensberg in the sprawling District 40 House race, Nick Salazar was winning the Democratic nomination. With 16 of 34 precincts fully reporting, Nick Salazar had nearly 58 percent of the vote.
If the trend holds, Nick Salazar will go up against Republican James Gallegos in November.
The District 40 race made headlines because Regensberg, a Mora County contractor, told voters that Nick Salazar was too old to serve. Nick Salazar is 85 and is finishing his 42nd year as a state representative. He fired back, saying that he was in good health.
Mora County races
In Mora County, meanwhile, District 1 Commission incumbent Paula Garcia, a Democrat, trounced opponent Joseph JD Weathers. She garnered 76 percent of the vote.
District 2 incumbent John Paul Olivas wasn’t so lucky. He lost the Democratic nomination to George A. Trujillo, who took nearly 60 percent of the vote.
And in the sheriff’s race, Greg M. Laumbach took 36.7 percent of the vote to take the Democratic nomination.