Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Two Tucumcari incumbents fall


November 13, 2019

Ron Warnick

Veronica Marez, chief deputy clerk of the Quay County Clerk's Office, writes down results from an outlying election center in the county shortly after polls closed on Election Day as County Clerk Ellen White and County Emergency Management coordinator Daniel Zamora observe.

One incumbent each in the Tucumcari City Commission and Tucumcari school board went down in defeat during nonpartisan elections Nov. 5.

Two House school board incumbents apparently survived close races. Their victories are likely but won't be final until provisional ballots are tallied next week during a canvass of election results at a special Quay County commission meeting.

Voters also easily approved school-bond issues in San Jon and House.

Results remain unofficial until the canvass Tuesday afternoon, which was after the Quay County Sun's deadline.

Tucumcari city commission

In District 2, challenger Paul Villanueva downed incumbent Amy Gutierrez by more than a 2-to-1 margin, 99 votes to 44.

"I'm just happy the voters in District 2 took my side," Villanueva said in the Quay County Courthouse shortly after results were announced the night of the election.

When asked why he won, he said: "My mother's in heaven, and I think she sent me a prayer."

Gutierrez was not at the courthouse and did not return an email that requested comment.

In Tucumcari District 1, incumbent Ralph Moya overwhelmed challenger Tommy Snapp by nearly a 3-to-1 margin, 108-37.

Moya in an email pledged to continue to listen to the voters. He took a swipe at fellow city commissioners for passing an ethic ordinance he opposed and referred his arrest in June for failure to appear in court for an animal at large. He later said the arrest came from a "misunderstanding" about a sister-in-law's dog that had gotten loose.

"The large margins of favorable votes for me is an endorsement that I continue to do clear representation of my district," he stated. "I promise I will continue to be transparent on anything that involves me as I have in the past. I only answer to my voters. I don't need a code of ethics since it is not approved by my voters. It does not matter who let the dog out!"

Snapp extended his congratulations to Moya and the other victorious city commissioner candidates.

"To those who voted, a huge thank you," he stated in a text.

In District 4, incumbent Christopher Arias cruised to a 94-12 win over challenger Charlotte Renee Hayoz.

Arias was out of town Election Day to attend his final session of Municipal Officials Leadership Institute training. On Facebook later that night, he stated: "I am so incredibly humbled. Thank you District 4. I look forward to representing you these next two years as your Commissioner. It is with your vote and God's good grace we continue the good work already begun. Let us all now come together to usher in the future of Tucumcari. Thank you Renee for a race respectfully ran."

Hayoz was not at the courthouse when election results were announced. An email requesting comment was not returned.

Tucumcari school board

In District 2, Jerry Joe Lopez downed incumbent Fernando Ureste 128-71.

"It's a big relief; I'm glad it's over," Lopez said in the courthouse. "I'm looking forward to putting the work in and serve the people of District 2 ... not only District 2, but the people of the Tucumcari Public Schools district."

Lopez attributed his victory to getting out and talking to voters.

"I introduced myself, letting people know what I'm doing, listen to their ideas and the concerns that they have and letting them know I'm just a phone call away if I'm needed," he said.

Ureste was not at the courthouse, and an email requesting comment was not returned.

House school board

With unofficial vote totals from Quay and Roosevelt counties combined, incumbent William Runyan held a 39-35 lead over Wendy Green-Grisby in Position 4, and Position 5 incumbent Phillip Runyan led challenger Dyron Ray 39-33.

William Runyan led in Quay County over Green-Grisby by a thin 36-35 margin but added three votes in Roosevelt County to her none to widen the gap.

Similarly, Phillip Runyan led 37-33 over Ray in Quay County but prevailed in Roosevelt County by another two votes to Ray's none to fatten his lead.

Quay County Clerk Ellen White said at least two provisional ballots were cast in the House races and an unknown number in Roosevelt County.

Those provisional votes won't be added until Tuesday afternoon's canvass.

Logan school board

Kene Terry prevailed in a three-way race in Position 3 with 174 votes, while Bryan Roach had 92 and Susan Acosta 64.

In Position 1, Kyle Don Perez won another three-way race with 169 votes, compared to Toby Jon Willis' 92 and Edward Johnson's 67.

Both of those results included votes from neighboring Harding County.

School bond votes

House Municipal Schools' proposed $400,000 package to improve school security passed by nearly a 2-to-1 margin, 46-25.

House superintendent Bonnie Lightfoot said she was "grateful" to the voters for approving the measure.

"I am looking forward to working with the House School Board to initiate greater security measures on behalf of the students and staff at House Schools," Lightfoot stated in an email. "Safe and secure schools are imperative, and I am eager to get to work. I am thankful to the citizens who recognize that a safe and secure school is a sign of a sustainable community in House."

San Jon's $800,000 bond issue for school repairs and improvements won by a comfortable margin, 73-16.

An email to San Jon superintendent Janet Gladu requesting comment was not returned.

Voter turnout

White said Election Day that voter turnout in Quay County was 20.5% in the first year of state-mandated consolidated elections, a higher rate than previous municipal elections.

"We were super-busy throughout the day," she said. "We didn't have any problems voter-wise, machine-wise or internet-wise.

"Our municipal clerks say their totals usually ran 10 to 15%. Typically, our school board (elections) can be from 5 to 15%. With the elections being all combined and turnout at 20%, I feel really good about the fact we consolidated all of them. More people knew there was an election going on, and more candidates ran, too."

The New Mexico Secretary of State later revised the voter-turnout figure upward, to 21.03%.

Unopposed races

These candidates won their races in Quay County because they were unopposed:

• Tucumcari City Commission District 3, Ruth Ann Litchfield

• Tucumcari Municipal Judge, Noreen Hendrickson

• Tucumcari Municipal Schools District 1, Victor Matthew Pacheco

• Tucumcari Municipal Schools District 4, Heather Gonzales

• Tucumcari Municipal Schools District 5, Bo William Wallace

• Mesalands Community College District 2, Jimmy Sandoval

• Mesalands Community College District 4, Craig Currell

• Logan Municipal Schools Position 2, Laurie Strebeck

• San Jon Municipal Schools Position 2, Thomas James Evans II

• San Jon Municipal Schools Position 5, Leslie Dale Bone

• House Municipal Schools Position 3, William Noland

• Canadian River Soil & Water Conservation District, Position 1, Tommy Wallace

• Canadian River Soil & Water Conservation District, Position 2, Larry Perkins

• Canadian River Soil & Water Conservation District, Position 5, Heidi Humphries

• Southwest Quay Soil & Water Conservation District, Position 1, Clyde Moon


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