Villagers will have to decide soon whether they want to keep municipal elections on the first Tuesday of March every other year or switch to the date of general elections in November. The question, which involves complications related to timing as well as funding, was debated at the February 9 Village Council meeting, with no clear answer. The over all purpose was to eliminate conflicts and standardize schedules and procedures.
In 2018 , the N.M. Legislature passed the Local Election Act which allowed municipalities to retain their schedules for elections on the first Tuesdays in March in even-numbered years or to opt-in for consolidated elections on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered years— that is, the traditional date for November general election.
As explained by Village Attorney Randy Autio at the council meeting, if the Village Council takes no action, municipal elections here would continue to come in early March of even numbered years, with the Village budget paying for all costs. But if the council opts in for consolidated elections, Village elections would be in November of odd-numbered years, with the Sandoval County Clerk conducting the polling and covering all costs.
Village Clerk Aaron Gjullin said conducting a municipal election here typically costs the Village $65-75,000. A further wrinkle is that if Corrales opts in, some terms for council members, the mayor and municipal judge would be lengthened or shortened to jibe with the new November schedule.
“It’s time for us to be making a decision,” Mayor Jo Anne Roake advised. In order to opt in and be included in November 2022 elections, Corrales would have to pass an ordinance to that effect by June 30. But the Village Attorney cautioned that the rules and implications of switching to consolidation under the Local Election Act constitute a “complicated, messy problem.”
Among other changes, the timetable for processes such as declaration of candidacy, would also change. The attorney said it is expected that voter turnout would increase if elections were consolidated in November. According to a list distributed to the council in its meeting packet, municipalities that will now participate in consolidated elections include: Edgewood, Los Ranchos, Cloudcroft, Tucumcari, Santa Fe, Española, Socorro, Las Cruces, Belen and Albuquerque, among many others.