The Observer asked primary elections candidates running for county offices or legislative seats representing some part of Sandoval County to fill out questionnaires sharing their views.

Responses were not edited for anything except word count.

County commission, state representative, sheriff and magistrate judge candidates were limited to 800 words, while probate judge and assessor candidates were limited to 500 words due to having fewer questions to answer.

If candidates went over the limit, their responses were cut from the bottom until they exactly met the word limit.

Edward W. Lovato. Courtesy photo.

Democrat: Edward W. Lovato

Community of residence: Rio Rancho, Sandoval County, New Mexico

What are your qualifications for this position?

I’m a lifelong New Mexican and grew up in Sandoval County. After graduating from Rio Rancho High School, I served more than thirteen years on active duty in the enlisted and officer ranks of the Marines, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. I returned home to New Mexico and earned a business degree and a law degree from UNM. Upon being admitted to the State Bar of New Mexico, I opened my law practice in Rio Rancho where I currently serve clients in the areas of probate, estate planning, and elder law.

The County Probate Judge is responsible for the efficient operation of the probate court, leading and training the court staff to ensure quality service, appointing personal representatives, performing wedding ceremonies, and much more. My education, training, and professional experience make me particularly well-qualified for this position. As a Marine officer and combat veteran, I gained valuable leadership experience and organizational skills that I will bring to the court. As a licensed attorney who specializes in probate, I have extensive training and experience handling complex legal matters. Finally, as the owner of a thriving small business, I know how imperative it is to deliver efficient, quality customer care.

Have you ever been convicted of or do you have any pending charges of a felony, DWI or domestic violence?

Nothing in my background, criminal or otherwise, precludes me from holding the office of probate judge.

If elected, what would your short- and long-term goals be?

My immediate goal is to adopt an electronic filing system. I also intend to audit and systematize the probate court’s workflow from start to finish with an eye toward improving accuracy, accountability and efficiency. My long-term goals include developing an educational curriculum, training videos, and publishing a book/manual and other educational content for court staff and the public.

How can people reach you if they have more questions?

By email at edward@edwardlovato.org or by phone at 505-338-1719.

What, if anything, would you change about Sandoval County Probate Court if elected?

I will commission a complete overhaul of the probate court’s website to include up-to-date checklists, forms, and other materials. Although empowered by law to serve as an officiant of wedding ceremonies, the probate court has not offered this service for many years. If elected, I will immediately reimplement this service and begin serving as a wedding officiant.

What should the probate judge provide for county residents, and how would you provide it?

Above all the probate judge must fulfill their constitutional duty. This means showing up and carrying out the office of probate judge competently, and ensuring the court staff have the training and resources to deliver high-quality customer service. I will show up for the job. I will ensure high standards are maintained in the probate court and that each member of the public is treated with dignity and respect.

How can you make Sandoval County Probate Court more efficient?

By adopting an electronic filing system, the probate court would immediately enhance its efficiency. This will be one of my top priorities. Nearly all courts in New Mexico have adopted electronic filing, with the notable exception of the probate courts. I intend to bring the Sandoval County Probate Court into the modern technological era.

Charles R. Aguilar. Courtesy photo.

Democrat: Charles R. Aguilar

Aguilar provided questionnaire responses in a format the Observer was unable to access. He did not respond to a request to provide them in a different format.

Democrat: Ronnie A. Sisneros

Sisneros did not return a phone call requesting his participation and an email address to which a questionnaire could be sent.

Editor’s note: No Republicans are running for Sandoval County probate judge.