By Kevin Wilson: Quay County Sun
The last 20 minutes were the hardest for James Lafferty and Mary Mayfield, as four-year City Commission terms hung in the balance of absentee votes. Things got easier with each vote total read from those final categories.
Mayfield won a three-person race to retain her District 4 commission spot and Lafferty edged Norma Jean Crellin in the District 5 race following Tuesday’s count.
Mayfield claimed 77 votes, beating Keith L. Hayes (49 votes) and Lewis Martinez Sr. (19). Lafferty earned 184 votes to top Crellin’s 171 tallies.
Of the 467 votes, the highest amount went to District 5. Lafferty said that high voter turnout probably helped him pull out the close victory.
“I attempted to present the voters with issues in my (campaign materials),” Lafferty said. “I felt that was very important. The more voters you get, the better the decision-making process is.”
Lafferty and Mayfield had to hold off victory celebrations when pre-absentee ballot totals indicated races close enough to be swayed either way.
Tuesday’s District 5 voters selected Lafferty by a 119-106 count. Absentee ballots went 60-52 to Crellin, and mail ballots were 13-5 in favor of Lafferty.
Tuesday’s District 4 voters picked Mayfield by a 60-43 count over Hayes. Absentee ballots went 17-4 to Mayfield and mail ballots were 2-0 for Hayes.
What made the difference for Mayfield?
“I don’t know, but I appreciate everyody who came out and voted their conscience,” Mayfield said. “I really believe Tucumcari is on its way, and I’m excited to play a part.”
Mayfield said she planned to solicit advice from her competitors because Hayes is a longtime Tucumcari buinessman, and Martinez could communicate ways the Commission can make sure the city’s Hispanic voice is an imporant element in decisions.
Lafferty, who replaces Betty Ditto, said he’s ready to start when the Commission meets Tuesday.
“I feel like my experience (15 years as San Jon’s city clerk) has prepared me for the position,” Lafferty said. “After campaigning for a week, I need to work.”
The first order of business will be to select the mayor from the commission. Mayfield currently is serving that position.
The three districts without council spots open combined for 83 votes. Those citizens could only vote to give or decline a vote of confidence for municipal judge Joe Ike Dominguez. All 467 who voted in the five districts entered a vote of confidence for Dominguez.