With strong early and absentee voting, the Lincoln County clerk expects a voter turnout of 65 percent or better for the Nov. 8 general election
With three voting days left before the Nov. 8 general election, Lincoln County Clerk Rhonda Burrows reported that by closing Wednesday, 3,569 county voters had cast their ballots early. Combined with 787 absentee ballots returned by that time, the total represents 32 percent of the county’s registered voters, she said
“We had 2,868 vote early at the Horton Complex (in Ruidoso) and 701 at the courthouse (in Carrizozo),” she said. We’ve issued 969 absentee ballots and there still are a couple of days left for early voting through Saturday, and then the general election day.”
Despite the heavy response of early voters, Burrows is sticking with her turnout prediction of between 65 percent to 70 percent of the county’s 13,950 registered voters. The breakdown by political party was trending in line with registration, reflecting a heavier number of Republicans.
“I went back and looked at 2014. What I normally do is compare four years ago, because of the presidential, but in 2014 we had that heated sheriff’s race and we had more than 4,000 early vote and we had a 65 percent turnout,” Burrows said. “So I’m just hanging with around 65 percent.”
Results may not be totaled as early as in some past elections, because two write-in candidates are running and the ballots involved must be hand counted, she said.
Beside the national debate over who will be the next president of the United States, closer to home, the question of whether to approve the sale of $25 million in bonds to build a new county hospital in Ruidoso probably is the main issue drawing voters to the polls.
While passage of the bond question to replace the structure built before 1950, pledges repayment through property taxes, county commissioners negotiated a new 10-year lease and a 20-year extension potential, with Presbyterian Healthcare Services for an amount more than sufficient to cover the annual debt repayment estimated at $1.8 million or less. Commissioners said the project will not raise property taxes and hospital officials pointed out that LCMC employs 265 people and has a $54.7 annual impact on the county’s economy.
If approved by voters, the new hospital is projected to be opened by the end of 2018, and at that point, the lease increases from $1.1 million to $3.2 million, with $900,000 in uncompensated care and the balance in cash. Presbyterian also is kicking in $8 million toward furnishings and equipment, and the Lincoln County Medical Center Foundation has pledged $5 million toward the $30 million in construction costs for a new 70,000 square foot, 25-bed, two-floor hospital with an expanded emergency room operation and private patient rooms.
The “super ballot” for Lincoln County, which reflects races in all the various precincts, districts and statewide includes a proposed constitutional amendment to Article 2, Section 13 of the state constitution “to protect community safety by granting courts new authority to deny release on bail pending trial for dangerous defendants in felony cases while retaining the right to pretrial release for non-dangerous defendants who do not poses a flight risk.”
Four state bond questions will be posed to voters, but the tax rate of 1.36 mills for bond repayment will remain the same as in 2015. One mill equates to $1 for each $1,000 of assessed taxable property value. The State Board of Finance officials estimate that over a 10-year period, the four issues on the ballot would increase the average annual property tax bill by $9.34 per $100,000 of asset value, with Bond Issue C accounting for the majority of the increase at $7.14.
Bond Question A asks whether to approve the sale of $15,440,000 in bonds to make capital expenditures for certain senior citizens’ facilities improvement, construction and equipment acquisition projects by providing for a general property tax.
Question B would authorize the insurance and sale of library acquisition bonds totaling $10,167,000 for capital expenditures for academic, public school, tribal and public library resource acquisitions and to levy the appropriate property tax for repayment. The projects specifically designated for funding include $3 million for the Cultural Affairs Department, $3.25 million for the Higher Education Department and $3 million for the Public Education Department.
Question C would authorize general obligation bonds for the sale of higher education, special schools and tribal schools’ capital improvement and acquisition bonds totaling $142,356,000 to make capital expenditures and to impose the appropriate property tax levy for repayment. The breakdown shows $12.7 million for Eastern New Mexico University and $32.35 million for community colleges, including $700,000 to renovate student services at the Ruidoso campus.
Question D would authorize the sale of $18,198,000 in public safety capital improvement and acquisition bonds for state police, public safety communications and national guard facilities statewide and to impose the necessary property tax for repayment.
Four judges are listed for judicial retention. They are Barbara J. Vigil for justice of the state supreme court, and Jonathan B. Sutin, Tim L. Garcia and M. Monica Zamora for judges on the state court of appeals.
Most of the county and many district races offer only the winners of the Republican primary with no Democratic opposition.
In contested races, Judith K. Nakamura, a Republican faces Michael E. Vigil, a Democrat for justice of the state supreme court, and Stephen G. French, a Republican, faces Democrat Julia J. Vargas for another seat as justice of the state supreme court.
Incumbent John Patrick Suggs faces a write-in challenger Albert Richard Greene III for the position of 12th Judicial District Attorney.
Greg Nibert, a Republican, is running against Democrat Richard James Garcia for the District 59 seat as state representative. Incumbent State Sen. Ted Barela, a Republican, is challenged by Democrat Elizabeth Liz Stefanics for the District 39 post.
Republican Nora Espinoza, former District 59 state representative, is running against Maggie Toulouse Oliver, a Democrat, for secretary of state. Incumbent Steve Pearce, a Republican, is challenged by Merrie Lee Soules, a Democrat, for U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District, and by write-in candidate Jack McGrann, who also ran in 2014.
In the presidential/vice presidential race, the Republican nominees are Donald J. Trump and Michael R. Pence; the Democratic nominees are Hillary Rodham Clinton and Timothy Michael Kaine; The Socialism & Liberation Party nominees are Gloria La Riva and Dennis Banks; the Libertarian Party nominees are Gary Johnson and Bill Weld; the Constitutional Party nominees are Darrell Castle and Scott Bradley; the Green Party nominees are Jill Stein and Ajumu Baraka; the American Delta Party nominees are “Rocky” Roque De La Fuente and Michael Steinbery; and the Better for America Party nominees are Evan McMullin and Nathan Johnson.
Six vote centers will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., on election day, where a registered county voter can cast a ballot no matter where he/she lives or in what precinct they are registered. Those centers are the Ruidoso Convention Center, 111 Sierra Blanca Drive; the Ruidoso Downs Senior Center, 26337 U.S. 70; Corona Village Hall, 461 Main Street; the Lincoln County Courthouse, 300 Central Avenue, Carrizozo; Capitan Municipal Schools, 150 Forest Road; and the Hondo Valley Public Schools, 111 Don Pablo Lane.
Posted on November 3, 2016 by Dianne L Stallings