At the end of municipal candidate filing day Tuesday, 11 candidates had filed to run for five City of Rio Rancho offices in the March 1 election.
Incumbent Mayor Gregg Hull is running for a third term against challengers Barbara Ann Jordan, a racial equality activist, and Jaclyn Wilhite, a political newcomer.
In a campaign announcement, Hull cited his achievements in his past two terms as reasons for running again.
“I’m running for mayor to continue moving Rio Rancho forward — and add to the successes that have made us one of the safest, healthiest and most prosperous communities in New Mexico,” he said. “I believe I’ve earned the support and trust of a broad section of this community and look forward to running a positive campaign.”
In her campaign announcement, Jordan said she was running for mayor because of hatefulness and racism she experienced while she was encouraging people to register to vote during a Black New Mexico Movement rally in 2020.
“I love my city and know that we can be more inclusive,” she said.
“Everyone should feel welcomed here. This is 2021, and instead of ignoring the issues we have with diversity, I will address them head on. I am concerned for the safety and mental health of our children. They have been through so much.”
Wilhite spoke to the Observer about her platform via telephone and then retracted her comments with the following email:
“I did not appreciate this illusion of an ‘inner circle’ and I do not wish to be a part of your work or your career. We are not compatible.
“I would NOT like to be affiliated with yourself OR your work on the paper. I might consider working with the Observer but it would be with another individual. Unfortunately I do not wish to closely affiliate with an unmarried transgender individual this early on in my political career. Please wholely (sic) completely separate yourself from what I am doing as a candidate for mayor.”
District 2 city council race
Incumbent District 2 City Councilor Jeremy Paul Lenentine is running unopposed for re-election, the only candidate without a challenger. He couldn’t be reached for comment.
District 3 city council race
In Council District 3, Joshua Antonio Jones and Clyde A. Ward are challenging incumbent Councilor Bob Tyler for his seat.
Jones said he’s running to strengthen Rio Rancho’s economy and invest in the people.
“I’m ready to lead Rio Rancho and build a better city for us all,” he said. “I don’t believe that people feel represented by politicians, and it’s time to change that. I am ready to bring my military, law enforcement and business experience to invest in our people and find innovative solutions so we can truly have the representation that we deserve.”
Ward said he’s worked in government for the state and two counties.
“City government is the closest to the actual citizens it serves,” he said, listing road maintenance, adequate water systems and business support among the important services municipal government provides.
“The city can either pave the way or put up roadblocks for all who live within its borders,” he said.
He said Rio Rancho is at the cusp of moving to the next level.
Tyler said he’s running for a second term because the current city council works well together and has accomplished a lot of good projects. He wants to continue his efforts to get a couple of roads in his district paved as well as help attract more businesses to the northern part of the city.
Tyler said he’s been serving communities since he joined the military at age 18.
“I haven’t stopped. I enjoy giving back to the community,” he said.
District 5 city council race
For the District 5 seat, Councilor Karissa Culbreath, whom Hull appointed after former Councilor Jennifer Flor stepped down, is running to keep the seat against William Edward Dunn.
Culbreath said she’s running to keep her seat because there’s still work to do. That includes repairing infrastructure, especially neighborhood roads; bringing in jobs by supporting small-business development and large economic drivers; and making sure new residential development allows housing for the whole community, she said.
“Rio Rancho has made a lot of progress in the first 40 years, I look forward to building a better future for our children and the next generations,” Culbreath said.
Dunn said he’s from west Texas, but was transferred to New Mexico for his job and fell in love with Rio Rancho.
He said he wants to be sure the community keeps moving in the direction he thinks it should, to give his children the best possible future. He said that after looking at his opponent’s social media accounts, he believes she has views farther left politically than he’d like.
“My belief is if you feel strongly enough about something, you should do something about it,” Dunn said.
Municipal judge race
Municipal Judge G. Robert Cook is running for a fourth term against challenger Jonathan L. Muniz. The New Mexico Secretary of State’s website, where the Observer obtained contact information for candidates, doesn’t include contact information for judges or judicial candidates.
If no candidate for an office receives more than 50 percent of the total votes on Election Day, March 1, the candidates with the highest and second-highest vote totals will be subject to a runoff election. The runoff election would be held Tuesday, April 12.
(Reporter’s note: This reporter made no reference to any “inner circle” while speaking with Wilhite, did not attempt or desire to form an affiliation with Wilhite’s campaign, is not transgender and did not discuss sexuality, gender, marital status or any related topic with Wilhite.)