Candidates file for open seats in Taos, nearby towns


As 5 p.m. hit Tuesday evening (Jan. 9), the clock tolled the deadline for candidates to throw their names in the ring for local elections taking place on March 6.

In Taos, two council seats, a municipal judge position and the mayoral seat are up for grabs in 2018 with 11 community members signing up to run for the public offices. These positions have familiar names in the race, some of whom have served under the public eye in previous years.

Both Judith Cantu and George “Fritz” Hahn will be running for re-election as their four-year terms on the council are up for grabs and six other candidates have signed up to contest their roles. For council seats, along with Cantu and Hahn, candidates include Melanie Baca, Andrew Gonzales, a former council member from 2012 to 2016, Michael Santistevan, a public relations specialist at Kit Carson Electric, Sarah Lopez, Thomas McCarthy, and Pascualito Maestas, a teacher at Taos High School.

The mayoral race in Taos between Daniel Barrone and Darien Fernandez could open an additional seat on the council if Fernandez bests Barrone. Barrone has been mayor for four years, a full term. He was elected in 2014 after serving on the Taos County Commission. Fernandez was elected to the council in 2016; if he beats Barrone, someone would have to be appointed by the mayor and council to serve out the remainder of his term.

For Taos Municipal Judge, incumbent Richard Chavez will be running unopposed.

Town elections will be held from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m. March 6 at town hall, 400 Camino De La Placita.


Questa will also hold municipal elections March 6.

The past year has been a contentious one for the village. A water outage in Dec. 2016 left most people without running water for a month. The ordeal led to political bickering among the mayor, council and village staff. Loretta Trujillo, who for three years was the top administrator in Questa, resigned because of a disagreement with the mayor about responsibility for the crisis. Her spot remained unfilled for nearly half a year.

The 2018 race for mayor of Questa will pit the one-term incumbent, Mark Gallegos, against a current village councilor, John Anthony Ortega. Both were involved in remedying the 2016 water crisis.

Ortega told The Taos News in a Jan. 10 interview he wants to bring new leadership in the village of Questa, both by “getting back to the basics” of roads and water infrastructure as well as planning for a sustainable future. Ortega, a safety coordinator for Kit Carson Electric Cooperative who is in the middle of his first term as a village councilor, said he would be better positioned to serve his neighbors as mayor than in his current seat.

Gallegos is also the Taos County commissioner for the northern district of Questa, Cerro, Costilla and Amalia. Gallegos told The Taos News he’s considering another run for his commission seat depending on the outcome of the March election. The commission’s primary race takes place in June.

Questa has two at-large councilor seats up for election, including those of Lawrence A. Ortega, who is running again, and Julian Cisneros, who is not. Aside from Ortega, Louise T. Gallegos and Charlie I. Gonzales are running for those at-large positions. The top two vote-getters will win the seats.

Should John Anthony Ortega win the mayor race, the village council would have another vacancy, which would be filled by appointment from the elected council.

Questa has one voting place for municipal elections: the village offices at 2500 Old State Road 3, Questa.

Taos Ski Valley

A handful of seats are also up for election in Taos Ski Valley, a small municipality that’s home to one of the biggest economic engines — the ski resort — in Northern New Mexico. Three people have filed to run for mayor, which comes with a four-year term. Neal King, the incumbent who has served four stints, is joined in the race by Renato Frimm and Christof Brownell.

Meanwhile, two councilor positions are up for election. Jay Christopher Stagg, an incumbent who has served as mayor for one term and councilor for three, is joined by Jeffrey Kern, Kathleen V. Bennett and Roger C. Pattison.

Voting in the ski valley will be held at the Snakedance condominiums, 110 Sutton Place, Taos Ski Valley.

Red River

March elections will also be held in another of Taos County’s ski resort towns: Red River.

Linda H. Calhoun, the mayoral incumbent, is running for her seat for the fourth time. In 2006, she was the first woman elected to the position. Red River resident Courtney D. Henderson has filed to run against Calhoun.

Furthermore, two at-large council seats are up for grabs. Ronald Steve Cherry, who was first elected in 2014, will run again, facing off against Jeffery N. Brown. Incumbent Ben Richey is not running for reelection.

Polls in Red River will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at council chambers, 101 West River Street, Red River.

The last day to register to vote for upcoming elections in Taos, Questa, Red River and TSV is Feb. 6.

Primary elections for county, state and federal offices will take place in June.