One of the biggest howlers in this year's local election is the Bernalillo County Clerk's race. With all the cries of improper voter registration coming from the state Republican party over the past six weeks, guess who is running for County Clerk on the GOP ticket? Nobody. That's right, if the GOP operatives put half the effort into running a candidate that they've put into creating the illusion of a voter fraud scandal, maybe the next County Clerk would be a Republican and all our problems would be solved.
But instead, while local GOP operatives continue to stir up the specter of a bogus election in anticipation of another post-election court battle, county voters will get to choose between incumbent Mary Herrera, a Democrat, and Green Party challenger Steve Cabiedes.
Cabiedes is an unknown commodity in New Mexico politics. He made the news recently as a Green aligned with the Republican party in a lawsuit filed against Herrera and state Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron that argued for stricter voter I.D. enforcement. The lawsuit also claimed widespread voter registration fraud exists in the county. The voter I.D. lawsuit failed when the state Supreme Court ruled in favor of the secretary of state. Without any plausible evidence, the voter fraud allegations went nowhere as well.
Still, when Cabiedes appeared as a witness for the Republicans last month, he seemed like a well-intentioned, honest guy who genuinely believed the lawsuit was about "clean elections" and not partisan politics. Without any experience in elected office, it's admirable that Cabiedes honors his civic duty and has offered his name on the ballot.
Beyond this noble purpose, however, the Alibi believes voters would do well to retain the more experienced candidate, Mary Herrera.
Looking back at 2000, we all know if Florida hadn't been the focus of voter irregularities, New Mexico might have been cast into a similarly embarrassing national spotlight. Remember the misplaced voter box in Bernalillo County that was recovered a week after the election? Well, Herrera was on the ballot that year, and in December 2001 she took over as county clerk and has done a competent job ever since.
She brought administrative and budgetary experience to the job, following a six-year career as county Human Resources Manager and many more years working as an assistant comptroller. She made sure money coming into the office was balanced daily and upgraded the county's recording and filing system, including increased training for office staff, which in turn added $650,000 in revenue to the county in her first six months.
Drawing from experience as a human resources director, Herrera understood how chaotic temp hiring can be and implemented more stringent training for the dozens of temp workers hired by the clerk's office during elections. Her office specifically recruited retirees with clerical experience to handle voter registration and ballot counting, and increased their pay. If past temp workers did not meet new requirements, they were not rehired. She specifically recruited local retired police and fire personnel to work as troubleshooters at polling sites. She understands the job, because for years she took election days off to serve as a troubleshooter herself. In a word, she is qualified to do the job and has brought integrity and trust to the office, especially at a time when the demands have accelerated with the constant partisan clamoring of voter fraud filling the air. Lastly, she runs a transparent operation. Or as Herrera put it in our interview: "If you want to know what is going on, just show up."
The Alibi endorses Mary Herrera for Bernalillo County Clerk.