Farmland and open space preservation may have been the biggest winner in this year's local election, with voters approving a $2 million General Obligation Bond. The Porter Orchard (above) is one of the properties in the village already protected against development.

To no one’s surprise, incumbent village councilors Bill Woldman (District 2), Zach Burkett (District 5) and Stuart Murray (District 6) and Magistrate Judge Michelle Frechette won their respective races by wide margins in the Village of Corrales’ municipal election. Each of them ran unopposed.

For the record, Woldman got 228 votes in his district, Burkett got 186 votes, and Murray finished with 187 votes. Frechette received 1,301 votes.

It wasn’t surprising either that Corrales voters approved three General Obligation Bonds by wide margins – each getting about 80% approval – according to unofficial results posted on the Secretary of State’s website.

One approved bond question directs Village administration to purchase $2 million in bonds to protect farmland and open space conservation easements. The measure allows the Village to purchase conservation easements that can be farmed or kept as open space. The Village won’t own the property. Under such easement acquisitions, landowners agree not to build, subdivide, or sell water rights on their property. 

Priding itself on its agricultural and semi-rural identity, 1,335 Village voters, or 80%, supported the farmland preservation and open space bond.

A second bond approved authorizes $1 million to complete Fire Station No. 3. The money will be used to both complete structural work at the facility and buy equipment. That question won 81% support from Corrales voters.

A third bond question, won approval with 78% of the vote. It provides $1 million for road repairs and flood control.

All three bonds are issued for four years. Their approval does not raise taxes.

Councilor Murray said in an email to the Comment that the Governing Body will now have to figure out where best to spend the money for open space and farmland preservation. The ability to purchase easements for available properties gives the Village options, he said.

Murray already has his eye on one property, though not for farming.

“I would like to see the Village purchase the ‘old La Esperanza’ property at the south end of the Village,” he wrote. “It has been sitting idle since the structure burnt down many years ago. I think the Village could insert a substation there or expand the bosque entrance (for) parking/open space.”

Asked his priorities for his next four-year term, Murray mentioned taking steps to improve safety along roadways for bicyclists, pedestrians and equestrians, including measures to curb speeding. He said he supports a multi-use facility “that is equable for all Village residents to use,” and an incubator/commercial kitchen where residents can process food in bulk and entrepreneurs can develop products.

Murray said he’d like to see Village property integrated into a single, cohesive development plan. He’d also like to see more transparency in Village government and the talents of local residents utilized more for Village projects.

Burkett said his aim is to make sure citizens feel informed and well represented. “Ideally, there will be a feeling of community involvement,” he wrote in an email. 

The councilor said issues he’ll prioritize include preserving agriculture and open space, protecting irrigation and groundwater, improving walkability and rideability in the village, and long-term planning that addresses quality of life, traffic, zoning and thoughtful growth.

Woldman and Frechette did not respond to the Comment’s request for comment.

The newly elected village councilors and judge will also get a raise. The Village Council voted earlier this year to increase councilor’s pay to $600 per month, and the municipal judge’s compensation to $1,200 per month. Winners of the next council election in Districts 1, 3 and 4 in 2025 will be compensated at the new rate, along with whoever is elected in the mayor’s race that year. The mayor’s position will then also pay $1,200 per month after the next election.

Departing from past years, Corrales’ municipal election was held in November this year. The Village Council voted earlier this year to opt-in to the state’s Local Elections Act, which in part is intended to combat voter fatigue by reducing the number of elections.

In the past, the Village held municipal elections in March of even numbered years. From now on, they are held in November of odd numbered years in conjunction with local school board elections, as well as those held for soil and water and conservation districts.

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