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San Miguel Couty: Garcia ousts Ulibarri as commissioner

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Max Trujillo, Chris Lopez, Connie Gallegos all victorious

By Jason Brooks

There were some surprises in early returns in San Miguel County races in Tuesday’s primary election.

Incumbent Rock Ulibarri was ousted by challenger Harold Garcia on Tuesday as he tried to hang on to the San Miguel County Commission District 1 seat he won in 2014. Garcia earned 432 votes to Ulibarri’s 320 in unofficial totals. Marty Sweeney was third with 246 votes.

Before any of the regular precinct returns or absentee ballots had been counted, Ulibarri held a 115-114 edge in unofficial early-voting results over Garcia, with Sweeney garnering 71.

In the District 3 race,  based on early voting results, Max O. Trujillo will likely claim the seat currently held by Arthur Padilla, who is retiring. He drew 548 votes to Yvette Gomez’s 432; Richard T. Rivera got 117 votes.

Padilla is retiring at the end of what will is his fourth term as a county commissioner.

Chris Lopez easily won the  race for the Democratic nomination for sheriff, as Gary Gold is retiring. His 2,582 votes easily moved him past the totals of his opponents: Joseph A. “Mikey” Martinez (1,070) , Theo Carr  (602) and Tony A. Valdez (511).

Connie Gallegos had a solide lead over David Ortiz in the nomination for County Assessor, 713 to 369, while Melanie Rivera also had an edge in a race against challenger Nick Montoya in her attempt to win another term as one of the county’s two magistrate judges.

Results are unofficial until canvassing takes place later this week.

There are no members of other parties who ran for any San Miguel offices in the primary. Tuesday’s victorious Democrats will still have to run in the general election in November, but with no one else filing for those positions in March, they will likely be unopposed and take office in January.

Ulibarri received 27 more votes than incumbent Democrat Ron Ortega, walking away with 51 percent of the vote, in the 2014 primary.

Garcia said he learned how tough it is to run for public office.
“The other two candidates really had strong races,” Garcia said. “It takes a lot to run in one of these races.”