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Tanya Shelby secures Republican Party's nomination for San Juan County Clerk and will now face Democrat Zac George in November

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FARMINGTON — John Beckstead won the Republican primary election for San Juan County Commission District 5, and Tanya Shelby secured the party's nomination for the County Clerk race in today's primaries.

About 20 percent of registered voters in San Juan County cast ballots in the election, according to preliminary numbers from the San Juan County Clerk’s office.

County Clerk Debbie Holmes said tonight that a total of 14,406 ballots had been cast either by mail or in-person at 34 polling places across the county.

Only registered Republicans and Democrats were eligible to vote in the primary elections, which determine the candidates who will face off in the Nov. 8 general election. A new state law also allows 17-year-olds to vote in the primaries if they will have turned 18 by the general election.

With 32 of 34 voting centers reporting tonight, John Beckstead was well ahead of Randy Pacheco in the Republican primary for County Commission District 5. Beckstead had about 71 percent of the vote, while Pacheco had 29 percent. A total of 1,573 votes were cast, with 1,115 going to Beckstead and 458 to Pacheco.

No Democrats have filed to challenge the winner in the general election.

Beckstead, 39, is prosecutor with the local district attorney’s office. He ran on a platform of promoting small business growth to improve the county’s economy. This is Beckstead's first foray into politics, and he attributed his performance in the primary to his perseverance on the campaign trail.

"It was frankly was a lot of work, but I’m glad I did it," he said tonight. "The results I’m seeing are in line with the amount of work I put in."

In the Republican primary for county clerk, Tanya Shelby led tonight  with about 62 percent of the vote over challenger Jim Johnson, who had about 38 percent. With 32 of 34 polling places reporting, a total of 7,451 votes had been cast, with 4,645 going to Shelby and 2,806 going to Johnson.

Shelby will face Democrat Zac George, of Crownpoint, in November.

Shelby has 23 years of experience working in the clerk’s office, and currently serves as the chief deputy clerk. She said working with past clerks inspired her to continue providing the services.

"This is a wonderful office," she said. "I keep saying it over and over, but we strive to set an example for the rest of the state."

Johnson, also a 20-year veteran of the clerk’s office, was a former colleague of Shelby's. She gave credit to her supporters for pushing her ahead.

"We had a positive campaign, and we worked very hard. We couldn’t have done it without the voters," she said.

While primary elections don't often garner the same attention as the contests in November, some voters said the absence of lines at polling centers today may have been due to a lack of choices.

While casing his ballot at Farmington City Hall, Elmer Sherman said he was surprised at the number of uncontested races this year.

"I'm trying to figure out why more people don't come out here and run for these offices," he said.

Brett Berntsen covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606.

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