Voices Behind the Vote

Courtesy of Amber Royster

Amber Royster is a sixth-generation New Mexican and Navy veteran who served in the Iraq War and was deployed twice overseas. She said Bernalillo County’s advisory mental health ballot question and the secretary of state’s race are her main interests this year.

She’s a registered Green Party member, and said she generally prefers to vote on issues instead of candidates. She’s voting for Democrat Maggie Toulouse Oliver for secretary of state because that office can allow direct issues-based questions onto the polls.

Rita Daniels


Rodrigo Aguilera of Carlsbad spent decades working as a lab technician, first in the potash mines and then at a natural gas plant. A registered Democrat, he prides himself on not voting the party line.

One of the issues in this year's gubernatorial campaign is how much to raise the state minimum wage. Republican Governor Susana Martinez doesn’t want as big of an increase as her democratic challenger Gary King.

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM Public Health Reporter Ed Williams met with Julie Martinez in the courtyard of Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. Martinez manages the hospital’s substance abuse prevention program and works on drug issues with local youth for the non-profit Taos Alive.

Martinez wouldn’t say who she was voting for because of her work. She did explain that the entrenched problems of addiction and substance abuse in her community are shaping her views of candidates this year.

Olympia School District, State of Washington


Jo Ann Goodwin lives in Carrizozo where she says she follows politics year round. Even though she's a registered Republican she has not been pleased with the initiatives of Education Secretary-Designate Hannah Skandera.

Goodwin is a special education teacher and she says the student testing and new teacher evaluation system is ridiculous and has her questioning who to vote for.

Denicia Cadena

Christina Dominguez is a single mother of three kids in Albuquerque. Her primary interest in the election is the mental health poll question on the ballot in Bernalillo County. The question is only advisory, which means it wouldn’t become a law if passed, but it’s intended to allow the public to weigh in on mental health funding.

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Robert Pack is a fourth generation cotton and alfalfa farmer from Eddy County. Although a registered Democrat, Pack says he has never voted party line in his life.

Pack says he's not thrilled with either gubernatorial candidate. But he is a medical marijuana patient and is basing his vote on the fact that Republican Gov. Susana Martinez said she would shut down the state's medical cannabis program when she was campaigning four years ago.

Courtesy of Pete Comstock

Veteran Pete Comstock was wounded in Vietnam—once by a hand grenade and once by an AK-47—and he’s recovered physically. “I have some combat trauma issues that I had to deal with as I was recovering coming back. But today, most days I’m pretty normal.”

Comstock, a Republican from Cedar Crest, relies on VA health services and said he zeroes in on issues affecting veterans during every election cycle. In particular, he wants to ensure candidates will commit funding and support to medical care for returning soldiers, address military sexual trauma and work to stop the wars.

Rosemarie Sanchez and her 39-year-old daughter Nannie are disability rights advocates and hard-line Democrats. Rosemarie adopted Nannie, a child born with Down syndrome, when she was an infant. KUNM Public Health New Mexico reporter Marisa Demarco caught up with them at their home in Albuquerque’s Clayton Heights to talk about how their lives and their politics intertwine. 

Both women are concerned about changes to the developmental disability waiver in New Mexico.

Rita Daniels


On location at a film shoot in the Lincoln National Forest, KUNM's Rita Daniels caught up with independent filmmaker Jacob Roebuck. The self-described social conservative moved to Roswell from Los Angeles four years ago and has benefited from the state's film production tax credit

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM public health reporter Ed Williams traveled north to Taos County where he met with Marty Michael, a conservative voter in Questa. Michael is an active member of the community, and has worked with the county on water issues. 

“Drought, global warming’s affecting it, lack of rainfall, mother nature. It’s something that can’t be measured," Michael said. "The conservatives are interested in keeping our water here. No more water transfers.”  

Check out the other Voices Behind The Vote profiles!

Ed Williams-KUNM

KUNM public health reporter Ed Williams spoke with Santa Fe resident Allegra Love, a former public school teacher who now works as a lawyer for ADELANTE, a Santa Fe Public Schools program that provides help for families experiencing homelessness.

Love is also an immigration attorney. Since this summer she’s been working on asylum cases for refugees held in the federal immigrant detention center in Artesia. 

This election year, we’ve heard from New Mexico families in KUNM’s Voices Behind the Vote series.

In our final installment, we meet an Albuquerque  man who is a vigorous defender of 2nd amendment gun rights and believes these rights are connected to other rights in a democracy.  He also makes a distinction between issues of the head and issues of the heart.

Tom Tomasi is a bit soft spoken but he has strong opinions about politics. He spends most days working for the federal government, but he also runs his own business as a firearms instructor in Albuquerque.

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, the KUNM News team has been exploring the lives and politics of  New Mexicans- in frank and intimate conversations.

This next installment in the KUNM Voices Behind the Vote series took us to visit with a couple in Rio Rancho.  Marriage equality for same-sex couples is the number one issue for them this year.

When Mary Houdeck and Norma Vazquez went on their first date in the late 1980s marriage for same sex couples was like a fantasy dream for many in the gay and lesbian community. 

As we close in on the last few days of the election season, the KUNM News Team has been hitting the streets, trying to get a sense of what's propelling New Mexicans to cast their votes.

“My name's Romeo Rocha…”

Romeo says when his mom was pregnant with him, his dad took her to see Romeo and Juliet, hence the name.

Romeo: “Yeah when you are younger and everyone is making fun with you it seems like a curse but after awhile you get used to it.”

Carol Lovato was born in Chicago. Her father was in the military so the family moved around a lot – to New Mexico, California, and Germany.

When it came time for her to choose a place to live as an adult, she went to the place where she felt the happiest as a child – Albuquerque. And she found a job that was just right for her.

CAROL: I was a history teacher at bulldog city, Albuquerque high for 30 years.

Elaine Baumgartel

The KUNM Voices Behind the Vote series features intimate conversations with New Mexicans about the issues they care about most this election season. On a recent Friday morning, KUNM's Elaine Baumgartel met up with Abdu Wakil Cyeef Din and headed to a Motor Vehicle Division office in Albuquerque. 

Voices Behind the Vote - Part 7: Romney's the One

Oct 23, 2012

Richard and Elaine Evans moved from Michigan to New Mexico for one...ok maybe two reasons. Aside from their grandchildren:

It was the flying that brought us to New Mexico. You have beautiful skies, and you can fly almost everyday. Richard and I had both flown, for years, small airplanes. And it's just been our passion.

Sarah Gustavus

Brianne Bigej has been really busy the past few years. She just finished law school at the University of New Mexico. Her partner, Eric Tomala is an academic advisor at UNM. He started a doctoral program in the Sociology department this fall. After work and school, Brianne and Eric try to squeeze in some time for fixing up a house they bought in Albuquerque in 2009.

BRIANNE: with all home projects, you have to have time and money…three years out will still have little bits and pieces left…laughing….

Voices Behind the Vote - Part 5: A House Divided

Oct 17, 2012
C. Jung

Our Voices Behind the Vote Series continues with Jessica and Danny Montaño of Los Lunas  who use their political disagreements to stay informed this election season...

When the 3rd period bell rings at Los Lunas High School...about 30 students make their way across campus to room B10 for Ms. Jessica Montaño's senior English class.

Ok this is the deal....we're going to take this step by step today.

Next in our Voices Behind the Vote series, we go to Texico, New Mexico, near the border with Texas.
Rita Daniels:  On a drizzly afternoon, I'm making my way into Texico, New Mexico, 16 miles east of Clovis, seeing signs for Romney/Ryan; no Obama signs out here.
On a drizzly afternoon, I met Mark and Twilla Koss
Twilla Koss:  I'm Twilla KossMark Koss:  Mark Koss

Elaine Baumgartel

We've been profiling New Mexican families in KUNM's Voices Behind the Vote series.  We're asking people to speak frankly about the political issues they care most about this year.  

Voices Behind the Vote - Part 2: Father and Son

Oct 10, 2012

If it’s a school day, chances are you’ll find crossing guard Tony Orosco manning his post on the corner of Lomas and Edith, keeping a keen eye out for school zone speeders. Armed with a small stop sign, a day-glow orange vest and one very loud whistle. Tony does his best to remind drivers to slow down when passing Longfellow Elementary School.

Tony and his fellow crossing guards are an essential part of a safe commute for many young students here, because this section of Lomas is 6 lanes wide and that 15 mile an hour speed limit is not always observed.

Sarah Gustavus

Elections are about people and choices. In the weeks before Election Day, KUNM is profiling families around New Mexico.

The Voices Behind the Vote includes perspectives that represent the diversity found within our state. We’ve asked people to speak frankly about the political issues they care most about this year.

Today, Sarah Gustavus introduces us to one couple who value independence and are focused on economic issues.

Elections are about people and choices. They’re about the relationship between a government and its policies and the ordinary citizens who vote that government in - or out.