A red-winged blackbird perches on an evergreen branch at Bitter Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Thursday. Mark Wilson Photo
On Tuesday, voters will decide which of two Republican incumbent state representatives will serve ano[auth] ther term, whether an appointed district court judge will be elected to continue to serve in her current capacity, and who will fill the County Commission seat soon to be vacated by Commissioner Dick Taylor, who will complete his second consecutive term and is not eligible for re-election.
This year’s primary election is less contentious than in the past, with 17 unopposed candidates on the ballot. Residents will vote in nine contested state and local races. Area Democrats are gearing up for their respective battles in November as none is facing an opponent on Tuesday. More than 20 incumbent legislators have decided against seeking re-election this year, including Sen. Rod Adair, R-Roswell, first elected to the state Senate in 1996.
In the race for U.S. Senate, current State Auditor Hector Balderas and New Mexico Congressman Martin Heinrich are competing in the Democratic primary. Former Congresswoman Heather Wilson and Las Cruces businessman Greg Sowards are seeking the Republican nomination for the position.
Democrats Monica Zamora and Victor Lopez are competing for a seat on the New Mexico Court of Appeals. In the Democratic Court of Appeals primary, both candidates won a spot on the ballot. Zamora won 63 percent to Lopez’s 37 percent. The winner will face Judge Miles Hanisee, a Republican, who was appointed to the position by Gov. Susana Martinez in July 2011.
In state Senate District 32, Roswell farmer Cliff Pirtle and Roswell Fire Chief Chad Hamill are competing in the Republican primary for the chance to challenge Senate President Pro Tem Tim Jennings in November.
State Reps. Dennis Kintigh, R-Roswell, and Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, are competing to represent House District 66. Due to a state House redistricting plan, the two incumbents are lumped into District 66, currently represented by Wooley. Kintigh currently represents District 57.
The winner will be unopposed in November.
Les Williams, an assistant district attorney with the Eddy County District Attorney’s Office, and Judge Lisa Riley are seeking the GOP nod for the position of 5th Judicial District Court judge, Division 9. Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Riley to the position in August 2011. Under state law, after appointment judges must be placed on the ballot to go before the voters in the next election. The winner will be unopposed in the general election.
Incumbent District Attorney Janetta Hicks and Janet Ellis, who served as a prosecutor under former District Attorney Tom Rutledge, are vying for the Republican nomination for district attorney in the 5th Judicial District. The winner will be unopposed in November.
Republicans Robert Corn, a retired Magistrate Court judge, and Mike Kakuska, assistant superintendent for the Roswell Independent School District, are running for the only contested Chaves County Commission seat, District 4. The winner will face Democrat Magil Duran, a retired state employee, in the general election.
City Clerk Dave Kunko and Bureau of Elections Chief Stephanie De Los Santos Amaro, both Republicans, are running for the position of county clerk. The winner will be unopposed in the general election.
In state House District 59, incumbent Rep. Nora Espinoza, R-Roswell, is running unopposed in the primary and general elections. This is also true for: state Rep. Bill Gray, R-Artesia; state Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales; Republican Vince Bergman, of Roswell, who represents District 8 on the Public Education Commission; Democrat Carolyn Shearman who represents District 9 on the PEC; County Commissioners and Republicans Kim Chesser and Kyle Wooton, District 2 and District 3, respectively; and Chaves County Treasurer Steve Harris.
In November, Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, will battle for re-election against Democrat Pablo Martinez, a longtime educator, for her state District 58 seat. Congressman Steve Pearce, R-N.M., will seek re-election over longtime Democratic activist Evelyn Madrid Erhard. State Sen. William Burt, R-Alamogordo, and Democrat Stephanie DuBois, who previously ran for New Mexico Public Regulation commissioner, will compete for state Senate District 33. Due to a state Senate redistricting plan, Burt was paired with Adair in District 33, currently represented by Adair. Burt currently represents District 40.
Early voter turnout has been lower than in previous years. As of Thursday, 1,877 individuals had cast their ballots early, with 1,570 people voting at the County Administrative Building, 296 at the Roswell Mall and 11 in Hagerman.
On election day polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.