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Voter turnout low at 14 percent

Artesians decided a trio of contested city council races Tuesday during a somewhat quiet municipal election.

Incumbent councilors Manuel Madrid Jr. and Jeff Youtsey retained their seats in District 1 and District 3 respectively in the two closest of the three races. Madrid defeated challenger Manuel Barragan 129-100, and Youtsey won over Robert Wachter 206-174.

“I am thrilled to be reelected as the Artesia city councilor for District 3,” said Youtsey. “I want to thank Robert Wachter for putting on such a competitive and honorable campaign. He ran a first-class effort that was very professional. He has an honest desire to serve the community.

“I’d like to thank my many supporters as well as my family for all of the help. It was a team effort that I am grateful for.”

“I would like to thank the District 1 voters for having me represent the district for another four years,” said Madrid. “Also, my family and friends that helped me reach this goal.

“I am ready to keep Artesia moving forward even with the crisis the community is facing with the drop in oil prices. I would also like to wish luck to Manuel Barragan for his future goals.”

In the District 2 election for the seat vacated by councilor Nora Sanchez, Luis Florez defeated Jose Luis Gabaldon 114-22.

“First and foremost, my thanks go out to those who supported me in my campaign,” Florez said today. “It is a tremendous honor and privilege to represent the citizens of District 2 and to work towards the betterment of our community by working to improve my district.

“I sincerely look forward to working with the council and the mayor. Each councilman has his own individuality, his own perspective on what is important to his district. I feel that whatever we do as a council that is in the best interests of the entire community, we will also be helping our districts. I promise to do my best.”

District 4 incumbent councilor Bill Rogers and Artesia Municipal Judge Kaye L. Kiper ran unopposed but still picked up 119 and 769 votes respectively.

“I would like to thank everyone who came out and supported my reelection,” said Rogers. “I sincerely appreciate the vote of confidence. I look forward to serving the citizens of Artesia for the next four years.”

Kiper also expressed gratitude to the community for their votes.

“I would like to thank the citizens of Artesia for their support through this election and over the years,” said the judge. “I take my judicial oath very seriously and pledge to remain impartial, not only in protecting the rights of both the defendant and the city, but also in enforcing the legal obligation of both.

“Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve the citizens of Artesia once more.”

Voter turnout was low for this year’s election, with only 14 percent – 894 – of Artesia’s 6,384 registered voters casting ballots. District 3, the city’s largest district, had the highest turnout: 380 voters, or 20 percent of the district. District 1 had a 17-percent turnout, District 2, 10 percent, and District 4, 8 percent.

“While the turnout this year was better than two years ago, when we had totally unopposed races, still only 14 percent got out to the polls, so we’d certainly like to encourage people to get out and vote more,” said Lisa Johnston, assistant city clerk.

Johnston was pleased, however, with the overall efficiency of the election.

“We feel like the election ran fairly smoothly thanks to the work of our precinct officials and the staff here at City Hall,” she said. “They were all a big part of making the whole election work.”

The city officials will be sworn in soon and are anxious to get down to business.

“We have a lot of work to do within the city, and I’m ready to get started with a very capable council to take on the issues we face,” Youtsey said. “Consistent management of the budget is crucial in the economic environment we face, and the council is up to the challenge. Other issues the citizens see as important will be addressed, as well.

“I will propose that we begin to develop a plan for a city pool that people can get behind and support. Many details are yet to be worked out, and I look forward to those discussions with any individual or group, and within the council. Please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have now or in the future. Thank you again for the confidence you have shown, and I look forward to the next four years.”