LOVINGTON – Tuesday’s municipal elections for Loving-ton Municipal Schools saw two seats up for grabs on the school board, and voters decided to make a change of direction in shaping the district.
Incumbent Mara Salcido, in Position 4, who is also the executive director for Lovington Main-Street, faced off against challenger Andrea Gonzales, who owns her own real estate office, and did not retain her seat.
Incumbent Greg Maxie, in Position 5, also faltered against challenger Bradley Bishop in much the same fashion.
Gonzales and Bishop both took a commanding lead in early and absentee voting, and they carried that lead throughout in-person voting in elections that saw a higher than anticipated voter turnout Tuesday.
“I am overwhelmed and humbled,” said Gonzales who won with a vote total of 672-184. “I owe a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the community in Lovington who voted. We had a good voter turnout compared to the last election. … I think the people want a change.”
“I’m excited to get started and get working with the other board members to help build Lovington schools into the best school district in the state,” said Bishop who won his race 706-161. “I would like to thank Greg Maxie. He ran a respectable race, and I appreciate that. … I am honored to be elected.”
Maxie and Salcido both congratulated their opponents and thanked the community.
“I’d like to thank the community for allowing me to have represented them for the last six years and to have been their voice and advocate,” Salcido said.
“I congratulate Bradley on his victory and wish him the best of luck as we still navigate difficult times,” said Maxie.
Maxie said regardless of the outcome, he hopes candidates and voters alike return to a time of civility.
“I’m going to accept the election results,” Maxie told the News-Sun. “We need to return to a belief in our institutions and the (results) of our elections. I appreciate and trust our county clerk on conducting fair elections.
“We’ve got to return to civility and change our rhetoric. We need to return to talking about differences in policies and ideas instead of personal attacks,” said Maxie. “I believe our rhetoric is where the real problem is.”
Salcido echoed a similar thoughts.
“I’m sad a non-partisan race was turned into what it was,” said Salcido. “I really hope we look at the positive and try to work together, and we can collaborate and unite the community instead of continuing to polarize or increase hatred.”
Maxie, who spent part of the day driving voters who needed a ride to the polls noted there was a better turnout at the courthouse polling location than there was at the LMS central office location. He said he hoped for a better turnout.
“There were some senior citizens and they said, ‘Greg I need a ride to the polls, but can you take me by Bob’s (Thriftway) afterward,’” Maxie said. “I noticed the school polling location was not as busy as the courthouse. The courthouse had a better turnout.”
Gonzales said the election was about doing what is best for the children of Lovington.
“(I’m going to try to) make the best possible decisions for our kids, and our teachers, and our admins, and our town,” she told the News-Sun Tuesday night. “It’s a big responsibility and I don’t take that lightly. I will make the best educated decisions for our kids that I can.”
Maxie and Salcido both said though they lost the election on Tuesday, they will still be involved in the community however they can.
“My loss tonight does not end my advocacy on behalf of public education,” Maxie said.
“This does not mean you won’t get to see me,” said Salcido. “I think it’s just going to change the way in which I will continue to help the community.”
All candidates agreed the children are what need the focus of the community, and will work toward making the community one to be proud of.
“Go ‘Cats,” Bishop said smiling.