On Tuesday, New Mexicans headed to the polls for the 2023 local elections, where they voted on municipal and school board races, as well as ballot questions.
In some areas of the state, conservatives saw gains for school board seats, with Republicans Shannan Wright, Brandy Murphy, and Craig Danekas defeating three leftist incumbents on the Alamogordo Public School Board — shifting the board from a 4-1 leftist majority to a 4-1 conservative majority, with leftist Amber Ross being the only one left on the board. She is not up for reelection until 2025. The far-left American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Alamogordo union chapter endorsed all three victorious candidates’ incumbent opponents.
However, in Albuquerque, Republican school board member Peggy Muller-Aragón lost a close race by two percentage points behind Ronalda Tome-Warito. With 10,400 votes counted at that point, Muller-Aragón secured 4,149 votes, while Tome-Warito received 4,404. The Albuquerque school board election featured eight candidates competing for three school board seats, although it is traditionally a seven-member panel.
However, despite their success in the race against Muller-Aragón, the teachers union did not appear to retain current board President Yolanda Montoya-Cordova’s seat, leaving the teachers unions without a majority on the board.
On the Albuquerque City Council, Councilor Brook Bassan, a Republican, appeared to defeat a Democrat challenger narrowly. In an open seat, Republican Dan Champine defeated Democrat Idalia Lechuga-Tena.
In another election race, the mayoral contest in Las Cruces required six rounds of ranked-choice voting to determine the winner. Eric Enriquez, a former fire chief and moderate Democrat, emerged victorious in the sixth round, securing 52.32% of the vote and defeating current District 1 City Counselor Kasandra Gandara, who received 47.68% of the vote.
The mayoral race in Las Cruces featured seven candidates vying to replace the long-time Mayor Ken Miyagishima, who did not seek reelection.
In Santa Fe’s city council races, the results indicated no major upsets in the political balance on the City Council. The election took place in a year when far-left Democrat Mayor Alan Webber was not on the ballot, but his performance remained a significant topic of discussion. Candidates were asked to grade the mayor during forums and were scrutinized for their level of support for him. Many candidates distanced themselves from the mayor, whose popularity had waned due to various factors, including issues with city audits and the removal of the Plaza obelisk, known as the Soldiers’ Monument.
Notably, the results revealed that the City Council would maintain its current political balance. While some candidates received support from Mayor Webber, others positioned themselves as critical of his administration, emphasizing the need for more accountability. Some vowed to provide oversight of the mayor’s administration if