Democratic Candidates For Bernalillo County Clerk In Their Own Words; Vote June 4, 2024

There are 2 Democrats and 2 Republicans vying to replace Democrat Bernalillo County Clerk Linda Stover who cannot run because of term limits. The primary is June 4.  The Democratic candidates are Deputy County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh and Karen Montoya, who previously served on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and before that two terms as Bernalillo County County Assessor. The Republican candidates are Robert Kwasny and Clayton Pryor.

Deputy County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh and former Public Regulation Commissioner Karen Montoya both submitted candidate guest opinion columns to the Albuquerque Journal which were published May 1 outlining why they are running and their platforms. Below are the 2 guest opinion columns with Journal links  being published to allow voters to compare and make an informed decision who to vote for on June 4. It is anticipated guest columns by Republicans Robert Kwasny and Clayton Pryor will be published at a later date.


HEADLINE: “Our Democracy Is Precious And Cannot Be Taken For Grantesd”

BY Michelle Kavanaugh, May 1, 2024

“My name is Michelle Kavanaugh and I’m running to be your next Bernalillo County clerk.

I’m running for county clerk because our community deserves someone who will do the right thing. Someone with integrity and commitment to doing the job right for all voters, regardless of party affiliation. And someone who feels like civic involvement and engagement is the most patriotic activity a citizen can do.

I’m a native New Mexican whose family goes back to northern New Mexico for generations. All my life I’ve had the privilege of witnessing the hard work and sacrifices my parents made to better their communities.

My mom was a teacher for over 20 years, and I watched my dad as a public defender represent those who deserved fair treatment in the court system.

I beamed with pride as my dad was appointed an Albuquerque Metropolitan Court judge and then a District Court judge. My mom became a teachers union representative, rising to the role of AFT-NM president, the first Latina NM Federation of Labor president, and most recently, my own state representative.

I lived the principles of collective action and community service as an organizer for the American Federation of Teachers, as a field representative for U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, and for the last four years as a Bernalillo County deputy county clerk where I’ve helped oversee all aspects of election administration under the guidance of Clerk Linda Stover.

I’ve recognized and understood that our democracy is precious and cannot be taken for granted. Our community members have a right to be heard, and voting is the easiest way to ensure that happens.

As the next Bernalillo County clerk my goals are simple. Among them:

  1. Protecting our local elections and democracy,
  2. Continuing and expanding the education program we’ve established in partnership with Albuquerque Public Schools, and
  3. Maintain an office that values transparency, accountability, and maintains the ethical leadership our community deserves.

As your next Bernalillo County clerk, I plan to continue the tradition of public service and commitment that was instilled in me. Ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to have their voices heard. Ensuring that our community is educated on the importance of participation, and to continue Bernalillo County’s ongoing efforts to conduct transparent, free and accessible elections.

I’m Michelle Kavanaugh and I’m proud to have the support of our current county clerk, Linda Stover, and I humbly ask for your vote for Bernalillo County clerk on June 4, 2024.”

The link to the Albuquerque Journal guest column with candidate photo is here:


HEADLINE:  Sensory Friendly Voting Booths Would Enhance Access To The Polls

BY: KAREN MONTOYA, May 1, 2024

“I am Karen Montoya, a proud Democrat, and I am delighted to introduce myself as a candidate for Bernalillo County clerk.

With over 25 years of dedicated public service, I am deeply committed to foster transparency, fairness and inclusivity in our community. Today, I present to you a vision for the future, a future where the voice of every resident resonates, where every vote carries weight, and where every member of our community is honored with dignity and respect.

My journey in public service began at the Bernalillo County Assessor’s Office as a commercial and residential appraiser. I dedicated myself to fair and equitable assessments.

Over the years, I worked tirelessly to ensure that every individual received equitable treatment and fair resolution of valuation disputes. I then went on to work at the State Property Tax Division as a senior appraiser. I did review appraisals for the State Board of Finance, and was the chair of the County Valuation Protest Board. I stood firm in my commitment to fairness and integrity.

From 2007 to 2013, I had the privilege of serving as your Bernalillo County assessor, where I focused on modernizing operations and implementing fair property assessments for all residents. I also fought against tax lightning.

I served as the chair of the New Mexico Association of Counties property tax task force. The subject was tax lightning. I also served as vice chair of the assessor’s affiliate. My goal was to create an environment where every taxpayer felt confident in the integrity of our tax system.

Following my tenure as assessor, I served as a commissioner at the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, advocating for consumer rights and sustainable energy solutions. I fought to protect the interests of consumers and promote policies that would lead to a more sustainable future for our state.

Now, as a candidate for Bernalillo County clerk, I bring with me a wealth of experience and a clear vision for our county’s governance. While fair and transparent elections remain a cornerstone of our democracy, I recognize the multifaceted responsibilities of the Clerk’s Office. Beyond elections, I am committed to fostering efficiency and accessibility in managing property deeds and other vital records essential for our community’s functioning.

In addition to ensuring fair and inclusive elections, I am dedicated to bringing a fair and equal working environment to the County Clerk’s Office. I believe that every team member deserves to be treated with dignity and respect, and I am committed to fostering a workplace culture that values diversity, equity and inclusion.

One of the key initiatives of my campaign is implementing a “quiet hour” during early voting, providing individuals with autism and sensory issues a calm, sensory-friendly environment in which to cast their ballots. This dedicated time will feature dimmed lighting, minimal noise, and trained staff members available to assist voters with special needs.

Additionally, sensory-friendly voting booths with adjustable seating and other accommodations will be provided to ensure a comfortable and accessible voting experience for all. By prioritizing inclusivity in our electoral process, we can ensure that every member of our community has the opportunity to participate in our democracy with ease and dignity.

I am not just asking for your vote — I am asking for your trust. Together, we can build a future where fairness and inclusivity are the hallmarks of our electoral system and our workplace culture. I invite you to learn more about my campaign and join me in this important journey toward a more equitable and democratic Bernalillo County.

For more information, please visit my website at

Thank you for your support and consideration.

The link to the Albuquerque Journal guest column with candidate photo is here:


This election year, there are 7 Bernalillo County elected positions on the ballot.  18 candidates have filed declarations of candidacies and have qualified by submitting the required number of qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters.   In addition to the race for Bernalillo County District Attorney between Democrats District Attorney Sam Bregman and former United States Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez, following is the breakdown of the other Bernalillo County races:

Treasurer Nancy Bearce cannot run for reelection after serving two consecutive terms.  Former New Mexico State Treasurer Tim Eichenberg has filed as a Democrat to run for the seat. Eichenberg served as Bernalillo County Treasurer in the 1970s and was the youngest County Treasurer to have ever been elected and also served as a State Senator before running for State Treasurer. Eichenberg will face Democrat Kenneth Scott, who previously served as Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Assessor for Bernalillo County, in the primary. Lelan Morrison will run for the seat as a Republican.

Two Democrats and two Republicans are vying to replace County Clerk Linda Stover. The Democratic candidates are Deputy County Clerk Michelle Kavanaugh and Karen Montoya, who previously served on the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission and before that two terms as Bernalillo County County Assessor. The Republican candidates are Robert Kwasny and Clayton Pryor.

District 2 Commissioner and Democrat Steven Michael Quezada cannot run for reelection because he will have served two consecutive four-year terms. Two Democrats, Frank Baca and William Walker, and one Republican, Mary Ingham are now running to fill the seat.

District 3 Commissioner, Democrat Adriann Barboa, is running for reelection. She will have two Democratic primary challengers, Robert Padilla and Laura Nasaria-Chavez, and one Republican opponent, Rene Coronado.

District 4 Commissioner, Republican Walt Benson, is running for reelection with no opposing candidates.

Division 11 Metro Court Judge Shonnetta Estrada will also reclaim her position with no opposition.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.