Jul 24, 2023

Candidates declare runs in Deming and Columbus

Today was filing day for candidates in local elections, setting the field for Nov. 7 elections that will select mayors in Deming and Columbus, seats on local councils and school boards, a municipal judgeship in Columbus and seats on three soil and water conservation boards.

Candidates in the non-partisan contests filed a single-page declaration of candidacy in person at the Luna County Clerk’s Office in Deming, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

After Tuesday, entrants may file to run as a write-in candidates on Tuesday, Sept. 5. That is also the last day for candidates to withdraw.

Deming and Columbus will both have competitive elections for mayor.

In Deming, incumbent Benny Jasso will run for a third term and face several challengers: Municipal Judge Edgar Davalos, former city Community Services Director Alexi Jackson, realtor Michele “Micki” Shillito and Thomas Brent Mowbrey.

The border village of Columbus will see a contest among two former mayors and and an incument: Current trustee Nicole Steffen, previously known as Nicole Lawson, and Philip Skinner will both challenge Mayor Esequiel Salas, who is seeking a second term. Elected in 2018, Salas’ term was extended after New Mexico consolidated its local elections.

Two incumbents on the Deming City Council face challengers. In District 1, Monica Topham, a 2021 appointee to the body following the death of Councilor David Sanchez, is seeking a full term and will face Julian Monjaras.

Stephen Westenhofer, former CEO of Mimbres Memorial Hospital, filed to run for Deming City Council in District 4, where incumbent Alex Valdespino will seek a full term after being appointed to the council last year. The former Deming police chief was tapped by Jasso following the resignation of council member Victor Cruz. A third candidate, Peter DeLaney, filed to run later in the day.

In a peculiar development, the entirety of Columbus’ municipal government — four trustees and a mayor — is up for election as well as its municipal judge. Judge Rachel Gomez is seeking another four-year term and will face challenger Raymond William Perron Jr.

Julian Monjaras leaves the Luna County Courthouse Tuesday morning after filing to run for Deming City Council. (Algernon D’Ammassa/Deming Headlight)

The four council seats are supposed to run on staggered terms, with two positions serving four years and the others for two years. Municipal clerk Omar Carreon explained: “At the last election there was an error made. Instead of setting up the election for the two trustee seats for four year terms they were set up as two year terms. That error caused the village to have all the trustees be up for election at the same time instead of staggered.”

Luna County Clerk Berenda McWright confirmed that the discrepancy “was due to an error on their part at the last local election.”

The two trustee candidates in Columbus receiving the most votes will receive four-year terms, while the other two will receive two-year terms. The Deming City Council is different: Instead of at-large positions, the council is divided into four geographic districts, and all of its members serve four-year terms.

In Columbus, two current trustees will seek new terms on the village council: Bill Johnson and Rocio Sierra.

A three-seat majority of the Deming Public Schools Board of Education is also up for election, with incumbents Olivia Paez and Robert Orosco running for re-election in Districts 4 and 5, respectively. Running for the District 3 seat currently represented by Amy DeLaney-Hernandez is Deming attorney Ashlea Crumley. DeLaney-Hernandez did not file for re-election.

As of 5 p.m., the list of candidates who filed their declarations was as follows (check this story frequently for updates):


City Council:


Board of Trustees (at-large):

Municipal Judge: