Election Update: Two Candidates for Houston County Commissioner & New Mexico Abortion Ban Vote

By: Multiple Sources (See Each Story Below)
By: Multiple Sources (See Each Story Below)

Pat Thomas to Run for District 3 Houston County Commissioner
By Cynthia Washington

A former Dothan Mayor has announced his candidacy for Houston County Commissioner for District 3.

Pat Thomas made his announcement this morning in the Houston County Chambers.

Thomas was a City Commissioner for two terms and Mayor for one term.

He says his 12 years experience in elected office will give him the advantage over his opponent.

Brandon Shoupe to Run for Houston County Commission
By Cynthia Washington

Brandon Shoupe is running for a Houston County Commission seat.
Shoupe is a candidate for district four.

He says he is welcome to competition and is planning to have a "positive" campaign.

Shoupe says he wants to be a full-time commissioner and give good representation to the district.

His main concern is jobs.
New Mexico Late Term Abortion Bill Defeated

On Tuesday, Albuquerque voters rejected the late-term abortion ban with 55 percent against it and 45 percent for it. The election drew more than 87,000 voters.

Opponents of this ban call this a victory for the women of Albuquerque.

They had a pretty good idea this would be the final result as soon as the early and absentee numbers came in around 7:30 p.m. which showed 56 percent of voters were against the ban.

Pro-Choice advocates including the group Respect ABQ Women, who campaigned strongly against the late-term abortion ban, watched those votes come in from Hotel Andaluz in Downtown Albuquerque.

Opponents have said the ban would take away a woman’s ability to make private medical decisions with her family and doctor.

The ordinance sought to ban abortions after 20 weeks unless the mother’s life was in danger.

On Tuesday night, Respect ABQ Women and many others are celebrating over the passage of the ordinance.

The State Attorney’s General has said this ballot measure is unconstitutional and is unenforceable.

The groups in favor of the ban have been preparing themselves for this outcome ever since the early voting numbers came in.

It was a close enough they were holding onto hope as more numbers came in.

Groups say they don’t feel like it was a total defeat. They say the grassroots efforts behind the campaign were good for the anti-abortion cause.

"We expect to keep fighting. We expect the momentum will build to pass it in other states other cities and on the federal level,” said Emily Buchanan.

This was the first time voters decided an issue like this instead of lawmakers, so despite the outcome, groups in favor of the ban consider this a groundbreaking day.

Mayor Richard Berry voted for the late-term abortion ban, but Gov. Susana Martinez said she didn't take a stance because it was a city issue.

She did say in a statement she is pro-life with exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

This election put Albuquerque in the national spotlight for weeks with news stories appearing in the L.A. Times and USA Today to the Washington Post and New York Times.

The southwestern Women's Options is one of just a handful of clinics around the country that performs late-term abortions making Albuquerque's vote all the more relevant.

In the City Council District 7 race between Republican incumbent Janice Arnold-Jones and Democratic challenger Diane Gibson, results are tight with Gibson up 51 percent and Arnold-Jones at 49 percent.

An emotional issue results in high voter turnout

With so much buzz surrounding this special election -- there was speculation we might see a turnout record for a city election.

It was a first for the city Tuesday - early voters outnumbering day-of voters.

And the turnout wasn't nearly as high as many people thought it would be.

City clerk Amy Bailey says with this being such an emotional issue, they expected a lot of people at the polls.

Jefferson Middle School near UNM was one of the busiest sites. Over at Isotopes park, the line wrapped around the building.

We heard some people say they had been waiting for about a half hour.

Once 7 p.m. rolled around, plenty of people were still waiting to cast their ballots. Anyone who was in line at that time was able to vote.

Bailey says in all, 87,296 people voted. That's a turnout of 24 percent.

“We actually expected a little more based on early voting numbers, but for a citywide election, it’s kind of on par,” she said.

This special election did draw significantly more than last month's mayoral election. That turnout was 20 percent, about 17,000 fewer voters.

Bailey says there were no problems with protesters at the polls but the city had police officers dropping in on polling locations just to show a presence.

As of Tuesday, an old voting record for a city election still stands. That was 51 percent in 1974.

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