Two incumbents lose seats

Alisa Boswell

Incumbent and local businessman Keith Thomas earned 59 percent of the vote to win the seat Tuesday in a Ward D race in which candidates campaigned heavily with a variety of yard signs and fliers.

Other winners were Michael Lucero in Ward A, Matthew Hunton in Ward B and Leo Lovett in Ward C. Lovett ran unopposed.

Less than 10 percent of Portales’ more than 6,000 registered voters cats ballots in an election for four ward seats.

In Ward D, Thomas earned 123 votes to 70 for challenger Jeff Burmeister, who runs the radio station out of Eastern New Mexico University. Burmeister said he still plans to be active in city council meetings and community happenings.

“I feel great,” Burmeister said. “I congratulate Keith. He obviously has more recognition than the new guy on the block and I wish him all the luck in the world,. My resolve to the city as strong as ever and I will do whatever I can to help out.”

Thomas said he would be grateful for any input Burmeister has on the local community, because Burmeister has some great ideas.

“I’m just so happy I didn’t let the people down who were supporting me. My hat’s off to Jeff. He ran a clean, positive campaign,” Thomas said. “I’m very proud of him and the Democratic party and I look forward to picking his brain.”

In the Ward B election, Hunton, a local businessman and one of the younger candidates of the election at 29 years old, unseated incumbent Gary Watkins, a retired community member, by a 144 to 69 count.

“It was definitely a new learning experience,” Hunton said. I enjoyed it and I met a lot of new people. I really enjoyed that part. I went out and knocked on a lot of doors and talked to a lot of people and I think that helped. I think people enjoy that personal touch during a campaign. I look forward to being on the council. We already have a great city; I’ve said that several times but I truly believe we can be better.”

Hunton said rather than people visualizing what can be, he wants people to see what is, such as forward progress on family entertainment and the industrial park plan.

Watkins was unavailable for comment.

In Ward A, Lucero, a retired city of Portales employee, won a three-way race with 82 votes. Incumbent Alfredo Bachicha Jr. was second with 39 votes and Donovan Finley with 28.

Bachicha is also a retired community member while Finley works for Cattle Baron restaurant in Portales.

“I never realized I had that many people behind me. It was very humbling. I was really grateful,” Lucero said. “I’m grateful to the people who voted for me and I’m going to do my best to do the very best that I can and make everyone glad that they voted for me. It’s a lot of responsibility.”

Lucero said he would like to see new solutions to the city’s water issues and fire dangers, such as a landfill in Portales and a fire substation on the north side of town.

“Everyone’s concerned about water, so I would like to do more to conserve more water and more to hear the concerns of the citizens,” Lucero said. “There’s not enough money to do everything, but we can do the things that can make a difference in quality of life. Start with the basics, like making sure there’s enough water.”

Incumbent Alfredo Bachicha Jr. said his only disappointment was the number of voters in the election.

“There was not a turnout like there should have been,” Bachicha said. “I feel disappointed that only (655) people turned out to vote out of all the registered voters in Portales. People just don’t go out and vote anymore.”