Santa Fe Voters Choose First-Time Candidates for BCC

DA Carmack-Altwies decisively fends off challenge from Serna

Although Democrat Lisa Cacari Stone had an early lead in her three-way race for the district 2 seat of the Santa Fe County Board of Commissioners, she wasn’t taking her win for granted. After she and her wife Roberta Duran abandoned a brief attempt to project returns on a wall at Capitol Grill, where a group of approximately two dozen supporters had gathered, Cacari Stone instead visited with friends and family as the numbers incrementally increased throughout the night. In the end, unofficial returns show Cacari Stone, a University of New Mexico professor with a background in health and social policy, capturing 59% of the 3,475 votes cast, with former County Assessor Benito Martinez behind her at 33%, trailed by lawyer Scott Fuqua at 8%.

“I’m elated,” she told SFR, “and I have to thank the team. I have had amazing family, friends come out to support…I’m so excited.” Cacari Stone attributed her win to a campaign that combined “science” with grassroots, she said. “They say follow the data,” she noted, adding that the campaign had utilized voter data to track undecideds and not leave any potential vote untapped. “We had 1,687 door knocks 1,000 text, over 8,000 mailers and we’re just ecstatic to have made contact, she said. That’s what matters is the voters. I just want to thank all the people in District 2 who still have hope for Santa Fe, for making Santa Fe ours again, for coming together to work on the issue that matter the most to all of us: water, housing, affordable housing, substance abuse and mental health—these are the issues people talked about.”

Competitor Fuqua watched returns at his home after “a full day of work” and commended Cacari Stone on her performance in the primary. “It’s not a surprise to me that Lisa did as well as she did in the election,” he says. “She put a lot of time and energy into it and ran a great campaign. I think she deserves the victory.”

Both Cacari Stone and district 4 winner Adam Fulton Johnson will replace term-limited candidates: Anna Hansen and Anna Hamilton, respectively. Johnson also pulled clearly ahead early in his three-way Democratic race against Mika Old and Stephen Chiulli, with 69% of the 5,396 votes cast, followed by Old with 21% and Chiulli with 10%. Neither Old nor Chiulli could be reached for comment.

Johnson, executive director of the historic preservation organization the Old Santa Fe Association, campaigned earlier in the day on the sidewalk on Old Pecos Trail outside St. John’s United Methodist Church, at which time he told SFR he was “very nervous/ I’m not the type of person that gets overconfident, but I think that I ran absolutely the best campaign that I could. I tried to take the high road at all times, and it’s exhausting.”

His strategy panned out, and by the time 9:30 pm came around, he said he “felt confident” he was the winner, adding the large difference in percentages among candidates “speaks volumes to what Santa Feans want,” which includes “progressive thinking, thinking about environmental issues, thinking about cultural heritage issues, and being able to be a good diplomat in contentious values and conversations that are playing in our community…and the results are showing that.”

“I’m extremely grateful to the voters of district four, and I’m glad that they chose to preserve what makes Santa Fe special,” Johnson says. “I guess it’s just my cheesy slogan.”

In one of the hardest fought and priciest races of the season DA Carmack-Altwies, Democrat, fended off a challenge from predecessor Marco Serna. The Secretary of State’s Office ranks both Carmack-Altwies and Serna in the top 10 statewide for campaign contributions: more than $313,000 for Carmack-Altwies—of which she gave more than $220,000—and nearly $185,000 for Serna. Both also appear in the top 10 for campaign spending.

Unofficial returns show Camack-Altwies capturing 65% of the 20,428 votes, with Serna trailing at 35%.

Carmack-Altwies celebrated the victory at a private event with family, she told SFR via text.

“I couldn’t be more honored to have the trust of voters in the First Judicial District…I am immensely grateful to my family and my incredible team, as well as to every voter who believes in moving community safety forward,” she wrote. “Fortunately, justice doesn’t follow politics. Feeling safer doesn’t follow politics. We are working hard to protect communities across northern New Mexico and given these results, we’ll continue to do just that.”

She attributed the win to her “tireless work” during her first term to “professionalize the office” and to “bring justice and safety to our communities.”

“I am committed to continuing the work we have done to prosecute serious crimes to the fullest extent of the law,” Carmack-Altwies added via text, which she said includes “expanding diversion programs for those struggling with substance abuse and behavioral health issues, and innovating to improve outcomes for all in our community.”

In the race for the Santa Fe area state senate district 24 seat, former House representative, school board member and retired superintendent of licensing and regulation, Linda Trujillo, also emerged the clear winner in a three-way race to replace Democrat Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, who is retiring after 28 years. Trujillo won with 62% of the 5,826 cast, followed by outgoing Santa Fe County Commissioner Anna Hansen with 23% and first-time candidate and legislative analyst Veronica Krupnick at 15%.

Trujillo tells SFR via text that she’s “looking forward to getting to work.”

“I have worked my entire life to serve my community, and I am honored that the voters of SD24 put their trust in me,” Trujillo wrote, “We knocked on hundreds of doors, and at every door, I learned more about our residents’ dreams and hopes for the future.”

She added she wanted to thank her opponents “for putting your name and vision out there and running bold campaigns. We need more women in politics and I thank them both for your service.”

First-time candidate Krupnick watched the returns at an event at Boxcar after spending the day campaigning at various polling locations. She tells SFR she’s “super proud of the campaign we ran on a people-first platform,” noting the significance of her candidacy as a young Indigenous woman.

“I learned that the election process is really not built for that group of people, and this really showcased that,” Krupnick says, adding the petition signatures requirement adds up to a significant amount of money to even get on the ballot, “I’m very lucky that I had people in my circle that were able to help with that.”

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark had an election to run while she ran for re-election, and easily held onto her seat against a challenge from her predecessor, Geraldine Salazar, winning 69% of the 20,437 votes cast.

In a conversation with SFR, Clark thanked voters “for believing in my team and what we’re doing in the Clerk’s Office moving forward,” and said she’s “looking forward to another term.”

“I’m just grateful for everybody who voted for me. Running for office is really hard, and I want to thank all the other candidates in this race running too, because in this race and across the ballot, it is really hard to put yourself out there,” Clark tells SFR, adding she encourages people to “vote every time. I’m a county clerk, I really believe that this is really important for our democracy.”

Clark thinks her victory comes as a result of “all the updates and improvements” her team has made to the County Clerk’s Office, she says.

Santa Fe County slightly outpaced the statewide rate for voter turnout with close to 29% of 86,213 eligible voters turning out to cast ballots, versus just under 23% of the more than 1 million voters statewide. Both rates trail 2022 turnout, which was 30% and 25.5%, respectively.

Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver released a statement roughly 30 minutes before midnight celebrating the end of the 2024 New Mexico Primary Election and encouraging voters to prepare for the upcoming general election. She noted “a variety of new tools” the office implemented to create “an easier and more secure experience for candidates and voters,” including electronic nominating petition signatures for candidates and an improved absentee ballot tracking system.

“Another successful New Mexico Primary Election is in the books and I appreciate every voter who took the time to cast their ballot and make their voice heard,” Toulouse Oliver said. “I want to thank all the county clerks and their staff, the poll workers, our vendors, and our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners for their professionalism in helping to ensure the smooth conduct of this election.”

Results remain unofficial until the canvassing process is complete and the State Board of Canvass certifies the official outcomes. The canvass process will take place over the next two weeks at both the county and state level before the board meets on June 25 to certify results and order any recounts, New Mexico Secretary of State’s Office Director of Communications Alex Curtas wrote after the statement from Toulouse Oliver.

As of press time, the two-way race for Santa Fe County Magistrate Court incumbent Judge Morgan Wood and challenger Melissa Mascareñas remained too close to call, with Mascareñas declining comment when reached Tuesday evening. However, unofficial returns show she appears to have captured the seat with 54% of the 19,563 votes cast in the race.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham appointed Wood to the seat in July 2023 following former Magistrate Judge Dev Khalsa’s DWI arrest and resignation. Under state law, Wood had to be elected in the next election following her appointment to remain in the seat. Mascareñas, who ran against Khalsa in 2022 and came in second, will now serve out the remainder of the term Khalsa would have had, which ends in 2026.

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