The 2020 primary election is Tuesday (June 2).
A pandemic has made campaigning and election preparations a lot different than in the past.
Health orders from the state have prohibited mass gatherings for weeks and urged people to stay at home, which made it impossible to host the usual in-person candidate forums prior to the election. The orders also put a damper on door-to-door visits and meet and greets by candidates.
What hasn't changed, despite the pandemic, is the need for voters to educate themselves before they cast their precious ballots and then to make the time to vote - preferably by mail this year but in person if need be.
Picking someone you know and like is easy. The harder question, the most important question, is whether or not they are the best person for a position. No candidate is ever perfect because they are human. Choose the one who on balance appears to have honesty, integrity, intelligence and takes who positions you agree with on issues.
Despite the election changes brought about by the coronavirus outbreak, there are plenty of ways to find out about candidates if you haven't voted yet.
The Taos County Democratic Party did an admirable job of setting up and hosting Zoom forums where Democratic candidates could talk about their platforms and answer questions pertinent to their positions. Those videotaped forums can be found as links within individual candidate race stories online at taosnews.com and at the Taos County Democratic Party Youtube site.
You can also watch debates between some of the Republican candidates for state offices on Youtube. New Mexico Federated Republican Women Northern Region has posted videos of the debate between two of three GOP Senate candidates Alissa Martinez and Gavin Clarkson and between GOP candidates for New Mexico Congressional District 3, Harry Montoya and Alexis Johnson.
Find stories about individual candidates at taosnews.com. Visit their websites to see what they say about themselves. If they held elected positions in the past, look through the Taos News online archives to see how they conducted themselves. If they currently hold an elected position, take a look at their voting record and their attendance record at meetings.
Whether it is for the school board or county commission or the state legislature, showing up for meetings is critical; if a candidate can't show up for meetings while holding one elected position, it is doubtful they will show up more if elected to a second position.
Meanwhile, Taos County Clerk Anna Martinez is working without her right-hand helper - deputy county clerk Valerie Rael Montoya - who is running for the county clerk position. Election rules prohibit a candidate from working for the county for the 30 days prior to the election. Martinez is carrying on with preparations for election day but she, along with many county clerks in the state, is urging voters instead to mail their absentee ballots in immediately.
Voters can cast their ballot in person currently at the county courthouse today (May 28) through Saturday (May 30). They can also vote in person at alternate sites listed below. Remember to wear a mask.
Other important dates to remember:
Friday (May 29): Last day county clerk will mail absentee ballot.
Saturday (May 30): Early voting at Taos County Courthouse ends. Voters may cast their ballot at the courthouse, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday (May 30): Early voting at alternate sites ends. Polls are open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday (June 2): Election Day
- Polls are open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Alternate voting sites are located as follows:
• El Prado Water and Sanitation District Office, 1017 Paseo del Pueblo Norte;
• Penasco Community Center, 14136 Street Road 75;
• Questa Municipal Village Hall, 2500 Old State Road 3.
Some of these races will be decided in the primary election because there is no Republican running against them in November.
Remember that some of these positions pay a healthy salary in taxpayer dollars, one far above what most people in Taos County make. Once they are elected, make sure they are earning their salary.