Job Description: Oversees the statewide election process, including maintaining lists of registered voters, evaluating voting machines and certifying precinct boundaries. Regulates lobbyist activity. Manages campaign finance reports. Second in line of succession to the governor.
Term: Four years (two-term maximum)
Bernalillo County Clerk Herrera was elected to office in 2000 and re-elected in 2004. She has more than 33 years of experience working in local government. Overseeing elections in the largest New Mexico county, she has practical, relevant experience when it comes to running the Secretary of State Office, and she has a number of admirable goals if elected.
Herrera wants to work with the Legislature to update state election laws and ensure all counties function under the same regulations. She wants to improve training among county clerk volunteers and staff, advance voter education and expand Native American Voting Rights Programs. Herrera’s also interested in establishing policies for paper ballots and unifying voter ID regulations.
Speaking of paper ballots, Herrera has gotten some flack for not supporting them before they were approved by the Legislature. She’s adamant that she’s not against paper ballots; rather, she was worried their implementation would be disjointed and cause more confusion and commotion in the election process. Now that they’re here, she says she’s devoted to making sure they run smoothly.
The biggest scar on Herrera’s record is the massive history of voting problems Bernalillo County has seen under her watch, including the proportionately high number of un-votes and ghost votes in the 2004 presidential election. Elections in this county are a slow, arduous process riddled with complications every cycle. Just look to the current election as an example: This month, 1,300 people in Bernalillo County were sent multiple absentee ballots. Herrera also left an item off the ballot that dealt with property taxes and the purchase of open space, a repeat from the 2002 election when she omitted a state bond issue from the ballot--a mistake that was caught by a voter, not Herrera or her staff. It’s hard to endorse someone who’s overseen such blunders.
Perea, on the other hand, has a nice repertoire of experience working in local government. She managed millions of dollars as the director of the City of Albuquerque’s Capital Improvement Program. She has 25 years of experience as an administrator with the city. She also served on the Albuquerque City Council for Northeast Heights District 7, where she was eventually voted Council president.
Perea is emphatic about crossing party lines and leading fairly and openly. She’s proven her ability to do just that on the Council, where she worked well with both Democrats and Republicans. Her main priorities if elected include promoting photo voter ID and making elections more expedient by ensuring volunteers and workers are trained and prepared and that county clerks have all the resources they need. She also wants to improve voter access to information; one example is revising the office’s website so campaign finance reports are more easily accessible and searchable.
Perea’s one flaw is that she worked on President Bush’s campaign in 2004, and it’s hard for us to support someone who worked to get the man elected.
Both candidates have experience relevant to the office. Both candidates have good ideas to bring to the office. But neither candidate is perfect. Take your pick.