Proposal would have moved elections to odd-number years

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FARMINGTON — Municipal elections will continue to be held in March of even-numbered years in Farmington and Aztec.

Officials in both cities had the opportunity to opt-in to the local election day, which is held in November of odd-number years, or choose to participate in the municipal election day in March of even-number years.

Both cities had government meetings on Tuesday. The meetings can be viewed at fmtn.org and on the city of Aztec’s YouTube channel.

The local election day was created through the Local Election Act, sponsored by Rep. Paul Bandy, R-Aztec, and passed this year. Its goal is to increase voter participation in small elections like school boards and water conservancy districts, according to the analysis provided to the Legislature prior to passage of the bill.

“There is a cost savings for opting into the Local Election Act,” Farmington City Clerk Dianne Smylie said during the council meeting Tuesday. “It’s not significant, but there is a cost savings to the city at this point of time.”

The Local Election Act included the creation of a local election fund to pay for the elections, which are run by the County Clerk's Office. The amount the city would be required to contribute to the local election fund is less than it costs for the city to run its own election.

Despite that potential savings, Farmington city councilors did not favor the change to the local election day in November. One reason councilors said they opted to keep elections in March was because of the impact the switch would have to the length of the councilors’ terms.

Terms would either have to be shortened by nine weeks or extended by 21 months.

“It affects the terms for all the seated governing body that we have right now,” Smylie said.

Mayor Nate Duckett said lengthening terms by 21 months is unethical in his mind, and shortening the terms would not be fair.

Councilor Jeanine Bingham-Kelly said she thinks the city should consider opting into the Local Election Act’s election day in November of odd-numbered years in the future, but she did not think Farmington should opt in for the 2019 election. Bingham-Kelly said she wants to wait through one election cycle to see how many municipalities opt in and how it impacts those municipalities.

Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 or via email at hgrover@daily-times.com.

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