Democrat SF County Clerk candidates face off

For the June 3 New Mexico primary elections, SFR will call up candidates in the CONTESTED races to test their knowledge. The rules for Pop Quiz are as follows: No research allowed and if they call back later with the right answer, too bad.

1. Approximately how many registered voters are there in Santa Fe County? What does the proportional party makeup look like?

2. What does it take for a minor to get married in Santa Fe County?

3. The clerk handles public information requests for Santa Fe County. Name two types of documents exempt from the state's Inspection of Public Records Act.

4. After its presidential caucus, the Democratic Party of New Mexico admitted it had underestimated voter turnout. If it had been a primary election instead, and under your purview, what would you have done to make the whole thing run smoothly and produce a timely result?

5. When SFR researched mineral rights in the Galisteo Basin, we found the whole process of tracking ownership quite prohibitive. As clerk, how would you make it easier?

6. Who is the top-billed star in the forthcoming film Swing Vote, which was shot partly in Santa Fe?

7. In 2004, Sandoval County Clerk Victoria Dunlap controversially issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Did you support her actions?

Valerie Espinoza, Santa Fe County Clerk
(incumbent), 48
1. We have 53,000 Democrats. We have 15,000 Republicans. You know, the ratio of Democrats has always been higher in Santa Fe County. We have 14,000 Independents, 2,000 of the minor party. So we have a total of 85,000 and, of those, recently we had about 900 of the registered voters change their affiliation because of the caucus.

2. Permission from the parents. An 18-year-old would just need permission from their parents. Or younger than 18.

3. Social Security numbers are exempt and dates of birth.

4. I would do what we do every election that we have had. We have conducted seamless elections on our paper-ballot machines. I would have ordered a sufficient amount of ballots like we do. We'd plan ahead and base it on the last election and we would order, let's say 20 percent more over the necessary amount needed. I would've planned to order enough ballots. I would've left the hours what they should've been, 7 am to 7 pm. I would have made sure the voter lists were accurate. I would've ordered from the clerk rather than the secretary of state.

5. I did that already by setting up a meeting with the Land Office. I also met with the Bureau of Land Management because I wanted to educate myself and the staff on where the mineral rights are filed. So we were a resource for all these people that were trying to research and were very concerned about their mineral rights. So Esther, Marcella and I, the three of us, became very familiar of how to go about helping them research this information. And our business has increased because of the concern of the mineral rights issue right now. The moratorium has helped.

6. I was there when he made his infamous speech. I was at the Rodeo Grounds and it was a very late evening about 10:30. He made a very good speech and I got to see him live and I was in the audience with my granddaughter. I'm trying to think of his name. He also sings. Gosh, this is terrible. I don't know. I can't remember his name. Tall, dark and handsome. You asked.

7. Absolutely not, because she did not follow the statute or the constitution of the State of New Mexico. And until the law changes, you don't have any problems with it. Do you know what I'm saying? I think everybody is entitled, women and men of same, you know, they're entitled to be happy like everybody else, but not when it comes to disobeying the law as far as the clerk is concerned.

Gilbert Martinez, retired PNM
manager, 54
1. The registered voters in Santa Fe County is about 86,000 voters;
46,000 to 45,000 voters of these are Democrats; 16,000 are Republicans; and I believe 16,000 to 17,000-plus are Independent.

2. Well, it's the old tradition. I believe it would be an adult, I believe over 16, but here again, anyone of 18 years old can get married. That's a toughie. I've never seen or heard of any one getting married younger than 18 years old.

3. I can't, I have to be honest with you. 

4. I think better communication and more training for more poll workers and more locations needed to be provided. The locations in general needed to handle more people.

5. Probably the whole process needs to be expedited, especially in concerns like that. I think that knowing where the location is going through the tax assessor with that kind of information the tax assessor has the records on who owns that property. In turn, that information would be brought back to the county clerk and hopefully all records will indicate by the document number or whatever series of numbers we would identify the owner of the property in our department.

6. I'm not much up on movies. I really don't look at movies at all. I'm too busy taking care of other matters than looking at movies.

7. I read it in the paper. I didn't have an opinion, to be honest with you. I think in today's society everyone should have their own rights and should share their lives with whoever they wish to share their lives with. This is a personal opinion. Whether it's a legal opinion, that's an issue that the state Supreme Court needs to ratify and clarify for the people of Santa Fe County or for the people of the State of New Mexico.

                                        ANSWER KEY                                        

1. According to statistics released by the New Mexico secretary of state on Jan. 25, Santa Fe County's voter population includes 53,934 Democrats, 15,255 Republicans, 14,051 "declined to state" voters and 2,239 "others" for a whopping total of 85,479 voters.

2. Sixteen- and 17-year-old brides and grooms must have a parent or legal guardian present, who would need to show photo proof of their identities as guardians. Minors 16 and under can only get married with a court order.

3. According to New Mexico's Inspection of Public Records Act Compliance Guide, the following documents are not public records: medical records; letters of reference; matters of opinion; certain law enforcement records; hospital patients' records; identities of applicants for university president; tactical response plans; veteran discharge papers; and several others.

4. The weaknesses of the New Mexico Democratic Party's first Feb. 5 presidential primary are a matter of opinion. However, Espinoza's answer covers most of the flaws. Two points she left out: a lack of parking at certain polling stations and an underestimation of the amount of provisional ballots.

5. This too is a matter of opinion. However, SFR and many anti-drilling activists would like to see a state database of mineral-rights ownership that includes notification of when rights go up for sale.

6. In Swing Vote, the presidential election comes down to one New Mexican's vote. That voter: Kevin Costner.

7. There is no correct answer here, only a legal one.