LOCAL NEWS

COUNTY COMMISSION DISTRICT 3 CHALLENGER

Former City Commissioner Luna’s Political Star Could Shine Even Brighter in County Race

By Tony A. Archuleta

HERALD Reporter

County Commission District 3 challenger Frances Luna established herself as a politician to be reckoned with when in March 2010 she won a seat on the Truth or Consequences City Commission as the first-ever write-in candidate.

Luna, chief financial officer for the Sierra County Sentinel and KCHS Radio, also enjoyed the distinction of being the youngest city commissioner at age 27.

In October 2010, Luna – who went by Frances Sanchez in the city election – married Donnie Luna, a lifelong Sierra County resident who works as a ranch hand on the Ladder Ranch.

Luna, and her 9-year-old daughter, McKenzie, eventually joined Donnie at the HOK Ranch between Cuchillo and Winston in northwestern Sierra County.

Luna’s move outside the incorporated city limits required that she resign her city commission seat. Her resignation was effective Dec. 31, 2011, but she also announced her intention to run for county commissioner.

Luna is challenging fellow Republican Alvin Campbell, the District 3 incumbent who is seeking a second, four-year term in office.

No Democrat filed in the race, so barring a write-in Democratic or third party candidate in the November general election, the June 5 Republican primary (early voting is ongoing at the County Clerk’s Office) will realistically determine who takes office in January 2013.

Luna says her service as city commissioner both prepared and encouraged her to seek a county commission seat.

“I just loved the work of commissioner,” says Luna, whose father, the late Neil Baird, served 14 years as city commissioner. “I love helping people, being a voice for the people, and I really think that I can carry that on – from representing just the city to representing the city and the county residents.”

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When Luna won the city commission election, she did so with 322 write-in votes, outdistancing four candidates whose names appeared on the ballot – Millie McLeod (283), James Jacobs (164), Ron Fenn (160) and Robert Woodard (who garnered 63 votes despite dropping out of the race due to health issues).

It was a non-partisan election minus an incumbent, as Jerry Stagner did not seek reelection.

In her bid for county commissioner, Luna will have to unseat an incumbent in a county where the electorate generally tends to lean toward the current office holder, excepting any major controversies.

A narrower voter demographic will also come into play. There are currently 3,329 registered Republicans in the county, according to the County Clerk’s Office.

It would hardly be a stretch to describe this particular voting bloc as conservative. One definition of conservative: disposed to maintaining existing views, conditions or institutions.

No political candidate likes to hear that this election cycle is a primer for the next election cycle, but we always bring it up anyway.

Did Luna feel it was important to run in 2012 to establish herself as a frontrunner in 2016, when Campbell would be ineligible to seek re-election due to term limits?

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