May 10, 2023 734 PM
PRESIDIO COUNTY — On May 6, Presidio County residents turned out to vote in local races that included a proposition determining the future of the local entity overseeing groundwater conditions, city council members and school board members. Here are the results.
Proposition 1, regarding whether to allow the Presidio County Underground Water Conservation District (PCUWCD) to become a taxing entity passed handily, with 668 votes cast in favor and 101 against.
PCUWCD General Manager Trey Gerfers said the district’s hard work campaigning had paid off. “I think we really gave it the best shot that we could and the results speak for themselves,” said Gerfers.
Gerfers attributed the landslide to the district’s efforts to get information to voters in a variety of ways: through videos, bilingual informational sheets, letters to the editor, social media and word of mouth. Gerfers canvassed heavily, greeting locals outside of the post office to promote the election and holding public forums in Marfa and Presidio.
Since its inception in 1999, the PCUWCD has operated from a budget from the county commissioners, but will now levy its own tax in order to be compliant with state law. The district has entered into a tax swap agreement with the county which will see no increase in taxes from the public. And Gerfers will now work with the county tax-assessor collector in order to determine what tax rate to set in order to fund the district’s modest $50,000 annual budget.
It remains unclear whether the district will levy the tax as early as this coming fiscal year, which begins in October, or the following year.
Gerfers said he contacted the district’s many grant funders, all of which were relieved to hear the groundwater district wouldn’t be abolished. It’s a loose end that should have been tied when the entity was formed, said Gerfers, and he and the district board were ready to get back to normal operations post-election.
“This has now been passed, this should have been passed 30 years ago, but this unfinished bit of business is now finished,” said Gerfers. “I’m really excited to move beyond electoral politics back to what I’m supposed to be doing, which is groundwater.”
City of Marfa
Incumbent Manny Baeza won the mayoral race with 261 votes to opponent Stephen Salgado Boelter’s 100. This will be Baeza’s third term as the Mayor of Marfa.
“Thank you so much for your continued support,” said Baeza of the election results, addressing the Marfa community. “I’m looking forward to serving the community to see [that] our plans and goals come to fruition.”
Salgado Boelter had withdrawn from the race on April 19 — too late to have his name taken off the ballot, per state law. Had he won, he would have had to decline the office, leaving City Council to fill the vacancy.
For City Council, voters were asked to cast their ballots for two out of three candidates — Incumbent Raul Lara, Travis Acreman and Christa Marquez — for two available seats, previously occupied by Lara and by Irma Salgado, who chose not to run for reelection after serving on council for six years.
For those seats, Raul Lara has won re-election with 293 votes, while Travis Acreman has won election with 158 votes. Christa Marquez garnered 102 votes. Lara and Acreman will serve full two-year terms.
“I’m just blessed, I’m humbled. I am grateful for my community. I will keep working for my constituents,” said Lara, who will now enter his third term on city council. “I’m just over the moon.”
“Thank you to all of the voters and candidates for participating in this election,” said Acreman. “I am honored by my fellow Marfans’ trust and support, and I look forward to serving the community.”
Mark Morrison ran unopposed for a third available seat, previously occupied by resigned Councilmember Jason Ballmann, and was declared elected for a one-year term. That seat will be open for election next year for a full two-year term.
Marfa City Council canvassed the election results as a meeting on Tuesday night, making results official, and new council members Acreman and Morrison will officially join council for their next regular meeting on May 25.
City of Presidio
Incumbent John Ferguson won re-election with 311 votes to challenger Angel Campos’ 59 votes. This election marks Ferguson’s 10th consecutive year as mayor — in addition to serving as mayor from 1991 to 1994.
Ferguson was honored to continue to serve his community in the coming years — earlier this year he announced in September via social media his plan not to run for re-election, but changed his tune in March after “personal reflection” and the advice of his wife, Lucy.
“I’m very happy the community wants to keep me on board for a couple more years,” he said. “I always want input from everyone to make sure we’re doing the best we can.”
He was also excited to continue to bolster the friendship between Presidio and its sister city, Ojinaga — the two towns are home to many dual citizens, have conjoined fire departments and are constantly working together to grow the local economy.
Just this week, Ferguson — alongside Ojinaga Mayor Andres Ramos — met with the governor of Chihuahua, Maru Campos, in her first visit to the area. “She spoke to me and referenced the great relationship between Presidio and Ojinaga,” he said. “It was very nice to have her say that because it is real.”
For Presidio City Council, Incumbents Arian Velazquez-Ornelas and Nancy Arevalo kept their seats with 235 and 268 votes, respectively. Both women are heavily involved in city governance — Velazquez-Ornelas also serves on the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau and Arevalo was just tapped as president of the Presidio Municipal Development District.
Challenger Todd Beckett won 109 votes in total.
Presidio ISD School Board Trustees
Brenda Witty, Jaime Sanchez, Marco Lujan and Perla Natividad were selected by voters to fill seats on the Presidio ISD School Board. Witty earned 232 votes, Sanchez earned 229 votes, Lujan won 235 votes and Natividad won 337 votes.
Contenders Steve “Nicky” Alvarez and Carlos Reyna garnered 141 votes, Jeremy Velsquez won 188 and Jessica Acevedo Nuñez won 79.
The four empty seats this cycle replace board members serving as president, vice president, treasurer and secretary. On Thursday, the board will hold an election to decide who will fill those leadership positions.
This year, voters got to choose from a particularly crowded field. New Board Member Perla Natividad was thrilled to see so much engagement from the community. “Having so many candidates — it’s exciting, to be honest,” she said. “Especially so many well-qualified ones.”