Santa Fe County Sheriff

Adan Mendoza inches past Linda Ortiz in four-way race

Adan Mendoza can stop missing the Santa Fe County Sheriff's Department. He's headed back there.

A majority of Democratic Party voters in the county wanted Mendoza to take the reins of the sheriff's department from termed-out Sheriff Robert Garcia.

Since no declared candidates from other parties are set to appear on the November general election ballot, he's the sheriff-elect. He inherits a department with 2,000 square miles of jurisdiction, including parts of the cities of Española in the north and Edgewood in the south.

Early, unofficial totals put Mendoza at about 43 percent of votes compares to 36 percent for Linda Ortiz, with Manny Anaya taking about 14 percent and Leonard Romero finishing with 7 percent.

All four candidates for the post worked in local law enforcement before retiring, but Mendoza's depature was the most recent. He mostly left because of changes to the state's retirement rules, and he wants to return.

"I'm young," the 45-year-old told SFR during the campaign. "I have a lot of fire in me."

Mendoza took an early fundraising lead and appeared to have support in various corners of the county.

"I voted for Adan," said Marguerite Gutierrez from Cuyamungue when she emerged from the polling place at the Pojoaque Valley Middle School. "I know Manny, and I know Linda, but I thought Adan would do a better job because of his experience."

At Turquoise Trail Elementary School, Southside voter Rejeana Mascarenas tells SFR she voted for Mendoza because she works with one of his children.

Mendoza has supervised all the divisions in the department and holds a bachelor's degree in criminology from UNM. He says he wants to start a version of the city's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program in the county.

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