Sierra County Sees 64% Voter Turnout
By Carlos Padilla
The 2012 General Election attracted as many as 5,101 of Sierra County’s 7,990 registered voters, who either took advantage of early voting or went to the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 6. While 100 percent voter turnout would be preferred, the fact that 64 percent of the county’s electorate filled out ballots, making their collective voices heard, is quite impressive in itself.
Locally, the race for the office of Sierra County Treasurer was the only race still up for grabs after the Primary race held in June. Republicans swept all local races.
Republican Terri Copsin garnered 51.41 percent of the votes (2,517 votes), while Democrat Isabel Salazar took 48.59 percent of the votes cast (2,379). In all, 4,896 votes were cast in the race for Sierra County Treasurer.
Republican Frances Luna was confirmed as Sierra County Commissioner-District 3 with 3,678 votes countywide.
Sierra County Clerk Connie Greer, a Republican, was re-elected to that position, garnering 3,903 total votes.
The races for state offices reflect diversity of candidates representing the nation’s two major political parties winning elected office.
Seventh Judicial District Attorney Clint Wellborn, a Republican, was confirmed in his bid for re-election to office, taking 3,633 votes locally.
Democrat John Arthur Smith was re-elected in the race for New Mexico State Senate-District 35. Sen. Smith was the clear choice district-wide, securing 60 percent of the votes cast in that race, while his Republican opponent, Russell G. Allen, garnered 40 percent. Voters in Sierra County chose Sen. Smith (55.21 percent, or 2,713 votes) over Allen, who took 44.79 percent (2,201 votes).
Republican Dianne Hamilton won her re-election bid for the office of New Mexico State Representative-District 38, taking 54 percent of the vote in that district, defeating challenger Terry D. Fortenberry, a Democrat, who took 45 percent. Locally, there was clear support for Rep. Hamilton. Sierra County voters selected Hamilton with 65.37 percent (2,882) of the vote, while Fortenberry took 34.63 percent (1,527 votes).
Republican Steve Pearce was the clear choice of Sierra County’s electorate in the race for United States Representative-District 2, taking 63.8 percent of the vote (3,183) while Evelyn Madrid Erhard, a Democrat, secured 1,806 votes (36.2 percent). Pearce went on to win the election, taking 59 percent of the votes cast district-wide compared to Erhard’s 40 percent.
Democrat Rodolpho S. Martinez won the election to the office of New Mexico State Representative-District 39, taking 52 percent of the vote district-wide, while Republican John L. Zimmerman secured 47 percent. In this race, Sierra County’s electorate sided with Zimmerman, giving him 57.25 percent of the vote (312), while the district-wide winner, Martinez, won 233 votes (47.25 percent) locally.
In another race, Sierra County’s electorate ultimately sided with a candidate who would go on to lose their bid for elected office. In the race for United States Senate, Martin T. Heinrich (DEM) defeated Heather A. Wilson (REP) and John Ross Barrie (IAP). Locally, Wilson was given 2,789 votes (55.27 percent), Heinrich won 1,984 votes (39.32 percent), and Barrie garnered 271 votes (5.37 percent). Statewide, Heinrich won more than 50 percent of the votes, while Wilson secured 42 percent.
This trend of the local electorate backing the losing candidate carried over to the Presidential race. In Sierra County, voters soundly selected Republican candidate Mitt Romney with 2,928 votes (57.4 percent), over President Barack Obama, a Democrate, who won just 1,963 votes (38.48 percent) locally. Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, a Libertarian, took 3.43 percent of the local vote (175 votes).
New Mexico voters re-elected President Obama with 52 percent of the ballots cast for the President, and 42 percent selecting former Massachusetts Gov. Romney.