Low turnout for board election

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Boertiger, Hull win seats on UNM-LA Advisory Board

By Jennifer Garcia

Bitter arctic temperatures gripped Los Alamos County Tuesday and that may have contributed to the low number of voters who went to the polls to cast their votes for the Los Alamos Board of Education and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos Advisory Board.

Candidates for the LAPS Board of Education had little to worry about, as they all ran uncontested.

Current board members Joan Ahlers and Jody Benson decided not to run for re-election, while Kevin Honnell ran and maintained his district four seat. Judith Bjarke-McKenzie will replace Benson in district three,while Dave Foster will replace Ahlers in district five.

Tuesday’s election netted Bjarke-McKenzie a total of 66 votes while Honnell received 99 and Foster received 76.

Unlike the board of education race, each seat on the UNM-LA Advisory Board was opposed.

Stephen Boerigter and Michael D. Di Rosa both ran for position three, while former county councilor Ralph Phelps and Linda Hull ran for position four.

Benson also threw her hat in the ring for the position four seat, but withdrew her candidacy after she realized that she would be running against Phelps and Hull.

Boerigter won his race with 198 votes, while Di Rosa received 180. Hull also won her race with 205 votes. Phelps received 145 and Benson, though she  withdrew, received 65 votes.

Honnell, meanwhile, said he’s sincerely appreciative of the opportunity

to continue serving the community in the capacity of a school board member.

“I look forward to working collaboratively with our teachers, administrators, families and community members in the best interests of our students,” he said.

Foster said he’s also looking forward to serving as a board member as

well. “I’m enthusiastically looking forward to working with my fellow school

board members, parents, teachers, students, school administrators, the LAPS Foundation, UNM-LA and the many other supporting community organizations to continue and further enhance the excellent K-20 education opportunities available within the Los Alamos community,” he said.

Bjarke-McKenzie shared her new fellow board members’ sentiments.

“I’m really glad to have the opportunity to serve on the board and am looking forward to new experiences. I hope that I can be an active representative and produce some good things for our district and region,”

she said. “I am willing to do what ever is necessary to make education a priority in our state. I would hope that more people want to become involved in future of our children and their educational experience. I would ask the people of our community and neighboring communities to let the state legislatures and governor know that we are united in protecting educational funding. Let’s all advocate for education.”

In the advisory board race, Hull said she’s very

pleased to have been elected. “Many thanks to everyone who voted for me, especially those who braved Tuesday’s bitter cold. I’d also like to thank and commend Ralph Phelps and Jody Benson for their continued dedication to public service,” she said. “I will do everything possible to uphold the trust the community has placed in me. I intend to work hard and serve UNM-LA productively and with enthusiasm.”

Phelps said he was disappointed that he would not be able to serve UNM-LA as an advisory board member.

This is the second time he’s unsuccessfully run for a seat. He ran for county council last fall, in hopes of maintaining the seat he filled after Jim West was diagnosed with cancer, and had to give up his duties as a county councilor. However, Phelps did not make the initial cut and was out of the race after the primary election.

Though he did not win, Phelps said UNM-LA will be well served because he

feels the candidates were all strong and believes the winners will do a great job.

“I hope that many of the goals and new ideas I discussed in my platform

will be remembered and considered by the Board in the years ahead, and that our university continues to meet present and future community needs, and that the budget issues can be managed effectively,” he said. “And I want to thank all the good folks who braved yesterday’s weather to come out and vote for their candidate.”

Though Di Rosa did not win, he remained upbeat about the choices voters

made Tuesday.

“It is better to have run and lost than not to have run at all, as during my

campaign I learned a great deal more about UNM-LA, our County, and the goodwill of those who live here. Stephen and Linda have a zeal for UNM-LA, and they and the Board deserve our support,” Di Rosa said.

Attempts to reach Boerigter this morning were unsuccessful.

The canvassing committee will meet on Thursday to finalize the votes. A representative from the county clerk’s office said she didn’t anticipate any changes, but said the committee must meet before the votes are finalized.