By Chelle Delaney: QCS Staff
Quay County Democrats made a strong statement Tuesday, unseating an incumbent magistrate judge and electing a Democratic candidate for sheriff.
David Joel Garnett defeated incumbent Republican Magistrate Judge Edwin Bruhn by 898 votes — 64 percent to 36 percent.
“I ran a good race,” Bruhn said. “But the governor (Democrat Bill Richardson) was running, and it was a Democratic race.”
Before the absentee votes were announced, Garnett waited out on the courthouse steps. “I feel confident at this point that I have won,” he said. “I have many years in law enforcement and feel that will help me better serve the people.”
After the final tally was heard from the clerk’s microphone, Garnett was congratulated by his supporters.
“I feel good. People know and remember me when I was sheriff. I feel that carried over into this election,” he said. “I will attend a school that all new magistrate judges must attend. It is in Albuquerque, and is set up by the Administrative Office of Courts (OFC). The class will take about three weeks to be concluded. By that time, I will be back and ready to take office as magistrate judge.”
Democrat and Deputy Sheriff Joe Schallert defeated Republican James L. Witcher in the bid for sheriff.
Schallert took 2,278 votes. Witcher, a city commissioner, had 945 votes.
Schallert attributed his win to knowing a lot of people during his 17 years with the Quay County Sheriff’s Office.
“I try to be friendly and do my job,” he said.
When he takes office in January, Schallert said he planned to focus on training and getting new equipment for the seven-man department. “I’d also like to get one or two more deputies,” he said.
Also Tuesday, Republican Patrick Lyons, a former state senator who represented Quay County, was leading in his bid for another term as state land commissioner over Jim Baca. With 70 percent of the precincts counted, Lyons had 53 percent of the votes.
He handily held his post with Quay County voters by about two to one.
Ron Wilmot, chairman of the Quay County Democratic Party, said Lyons had attracted bi-partisan support because he’s from Quay County, been the county’s state senator and is well known.
In early October, Republicans hosted a dinner and fund-raiser for Lyons, which attracted both Republican and Democratic supporters.
Lyons, who is a 1972 Clovis High School graduate, is from the Cuervo area of Quay County. His wife, Sandy, teaches school in House.
Quay County Court Clerk Ellen White said 55 percent of the county’s 5,999 registerd voters participated in the elections. Totals are not official until approved by county commissioners.
Thomas Garcia contributed to this report.