New faces are big winners in Farmington, Bloomfield, Aztec elections

Three incumbents ousted in Bloomfield; Nate Duckett is Farmington's new mayor

The Daily Times staff
Cynthia Atencio, the newly elected mayor of Bloomfield, texts results to friends and other candidates Tuesday at Bloomfield City Hall.
  • Cynthia Atencio defeated incumbent Scott Eckstein in the Bloomfield mayor's race.
  • Incumbent City Council members James Elwin Roark and DeLaws Lindsay also lost in Bloomfield.
  • Duckett easily won the mayor's race in Farmington with 86 percent of the vote.

FARMINGTON — Voters in the cities of Farmington, Bloomfield and Aztec opted for several new faces in their city leadership when they went to the polls Tuesday to take part in municipal elections, according to unofficial results.

Veteran City Councilor Nate Duckett will be the next mayor of Farmington, while Cynthia Atencio is the new mayor of Bloomfield. Two new council members each also were elected in Farmington and Bloomfield, and the three open seats on the Aztec City Commission all will be filled by newcomers.

It was a poor night for incumbents in Bloomfield, all of whom lost.

Atencio claimed the mayor's office in Bloomfield by winning about 55 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results provided by the Bloomfield City Clerk. She defeated incumbent Scott Eckstein, who received 36 percent of the votes. Benny Kling received 8 percent of the votes.

A total of 738 ballots were cast.

“I want to thank everybody,” Atencio said after hearing the results at City Hall. “I really am proud of the support I’ve had from my community.”

Kenneth Hare and Sue Ann Finch will be the new city councilors, and Sadie Smith-McDaniel will be the municipal judge.

City of Farmington workers monitor election returns on Tuesday at Farmington City Hall.

Hare received nearly 61 percent of the votes, and Finch received nearly 60 percent of the votes. Smith-McDaniel received nearly 78 percent of the votes.

Hare and Finch defeated incumbents James Elwin Roark and DeLaws Lindsay. Roark received 19 percent of the votes and Lindsay received 16 percent of the votes.

“I just feel calm,” Finch said after seeing the results.

Cecilia Gunnell and Richard Kemp also ran for the City Council. Gunnell received 17 percent of the votes, while Kemp received less than 16 percent.

“I would like to say that the incumbents are three very kind gentlemen and their commitment to Bloomfield can’t be questioned,” Hare said.

He said Bloomfield is facing many challenges, and he looks forward to working with the new mayor and the other city councilors to meet those challenges.

Polls close on Tuesday evening at the City Council chambers at Farmington City Hall.

In Farmington, Duckett won 86 percent of the vote to take the mayor’s seat.
Duckett said he told his supporters tonight his win was “not a victory for me, it’s a victory for us” because everyone is part of leading the community to the next level.

“We had a good night,” he said in an interview. “Now we’ve got to work.”

Duckett ran on a platform that included finding ways to diversify the local economy, improving public safety and the quality of life in Farmington, and seeking to promote tourism as an industry.

He said he’s excited about the prospects brought about by the current drive to revitalize and diversify the local economy — and the number of people involved in and committed to that effort.

Challenger Roland W. Berkey received 400 votes to Duckett’s 2,463. 

Jeanine Bingham-Kelley ran unopposed for her District 3 council seat and said her next task is to get prepared for her first council meeting next week.

“I’m excited to get to work,” she said.

Bloomfield City Clerk Erikka Martinez and Bloomfield communications and marketing specialist Dorothy Nobis react to election results Tuesday at Bloomfield City Hall.

This is Bingham-Kelley’s first elected position. She has a background in financial services and said she’ll be paying close attention as the city budget process comes up.

In a contested race, District 4 City Council candidate Janis Jakino won 66 percent of the vote against candidate Patrick Manchester. Jakino is active in the Republican Party and currently serves as vice chairwoman for the San Juan County Republican Party.

"I was flattered by the results and overwhelmed, but I'm excited to get to work," Jakino said.

In a contested race for part-time municipal judge at large, incumbent Bill Standley won 70 percent of the vote against Brian Kenneth Erickson. Standley served 12 years as Farmington’s mayor before being elected to the bench in 2014.

“I’ve never had an election where I didn’t have an opponent,” Standley said after the polls closed.

Standley said he helped lay the groundwork for the County Health Consortium back when he was mayor, an effort to battle substance abuse issues in the community.

As a judge, he said he has not just a duty to see that sentencing involves probation and treatment when appropriate, but due to his previous work, he also has insight into the substance abuse issues that often bring people into his court.

Sue Ann Finch reacts after winning a seat on Bloomfield City Council Tuesday at Bloomfield City Hall.

When the system helps people, Standley said, the victory is rewarding.

Municipal judge at large candidate Bill Liese ran unopposed.

There were 9,984 total votes cast by 2,895 registered voters in Farmington's election, according to the unofficial results.

In Aztec, three new members were elected to the City Commission, which will select one of its five members to serve as mayor next week.

A total of 332 votes were cast during the election, and voters were free to cast a ballot in all districts, even though candidates were running for specific district seats.

In District 5, newcomer Mark Lewis defeated incumbent Sheri Rogers by capturing approximately 59 percent of the votes to Rogers' 39 percent. Rogers resigned from the seat on April 28 and was reappointed during a June 13 meeting.

Lewis said he was shocked by the results but thanked Rogers for running a campaign that focused on the issues. He said completion of the North Main Avenue extension project, which would connect the Aztec Ruins National Monument and the downtown district, is a top priority.

In District 2, Rosalyn Fry defeated Joel Barton for the seat held by Mayor Sally Burbridge, who did not run again. Fry took about 58 percent of the vote, and Barton had about 40 percent of the vote.

Fry said she was excited to be elected. As she looks toward her first time in office, Fry said she thinks it is important to address economic development in the region. She believes the local governments and San Juan County need to collaborate to help diversify the region's economy.

In District 4, Victor Snover ran unopposed for his commission seat, taking about 78 percent of the votes. Incumbent Katee McClure did not run again for the seat.

Snover, Fry and Lewis all said selecting a new city manager will be crucial to achieving their plans, including completion of the arterial route, which is intended to direct heavy truck traffic around downtown Aztec. 

Kirtland residents re-elected Larry Hathaway and Jason Heslop to their second terms as trustees for the Kirtland Town Council. Both ran unopposed. Hathaway received 96 percent of the votes. Heslop received 86 percent of the votes, according to unofficial results provided by Town Clerk Gwen Warner.

John Moses, Hannah Grover, Josh Kellogg and Noel Lyn Smith contributed to this story.