Marfa re-elects mayor and council members, adds newcomer to school board

Photo by Maisie Crow / After campaigning much of the day across the street in the Uncle’s parking lot, incumbent councilmember Raul Lara stands in front of Marfa City Hall as he waits for the election results to be tabulated. Lara was re-elected after garnering the highest number of votes, followed by re-elected councilmember Irma Salgado.

MARFA – Marfa elections on Saturday, May 1, saw modest turnouts, where unofficial vote tallies indicate three incumbents were re-elected into city positions, while an incumbent and a newcomer were elected to the Marfa school board. Votes will be canvassed at upcoming meetings of the council and the board.

Mayor Manuel “Manny” Baeza was re-elected to serve a second two-year term, running unopposed and receiving 221 votes.

Down the ballot, council members Irma Salgado (165 votes) and Raul Lara (210 votes) were able to defend their seats against one challenger, Stephen Boelter, who received 78 votes.

Lara, speaking about his priorities in the coming budget cycle, said he wanted to support public programs like the library and meals on wheels, but gave a guarantee to constituents that he would vote against a tax increase.

Campaigning outside the Uncle’s gas station on Saturday, Lara hoped he and Salgado would return to office for another term, touting the current balance of council, where longtime natives and newer art community voices were both represented. “It’s a good balance of the community and we respect each other,” he said. He also spoke about how coronavirus delayed major city projects over the past year, saying with another term, they hoped to get back on track. “I think streets are one of the biggest concerns,” he said.

Salgado said ahead of her re-election that her priorities for the coming budget cycle are to focus on city infrastructure like streets and the water and sewer systems. She said, “It would be to our benefit to invest in our own equipment to work on the streets and train the public works staff to operate the equipment themselves rather than continually paying higher prices to outside contracting firms.”

Around 250 Marfa residents turned out to vote in the general election for Marfa City Council, lagging behind the more than 700 locals who voted in the city’s November 2020 election. After being delayed from its usual May 2020 Election Day due to coronavirus concerns, that race saw a bump in turnout because it coincided with the presidential race.

At the Marfa Independent School District School Board election, Yolanda Jurado ran unopposed for her seat, and earned 216 votes endorsing her return to the board. In the contested race for another seat, Rene Gonzales received 168 votes, defeating Jose Grajeda who tallied up 103 votes.

Gonzales, a father of one MISD graduate and two current students, said he would bring his knowledge from his work in the private security industry to better secure the school campus and keep students safe. Joining the board as schools are still grappling with the unprecedented challenge of providing education and socialization during a pandemic, Gonzales said, “This pandemic has caused a historic issue on schooling and communication with students and their families as well. I would be lying to you if I told you I had an answer. This is something we have never seen or dealt with before, but just like everything else, we will learn from it and keep adjusting until we get our groove back.”