Tiny town in New Mexico embodies this year's electoral passion, split

Sandia Park is not a town. There is no mayor, city council, or police department. It’s in central New Mexico’s Bernalillo County. It is south of Santa Fe and East of Albuquerque. The county commissioner describes the area simply as a zip code. When residents call for help, the sheriff’s office responds.

“You wouldn’t be able to find a start and an end,” said Commissioner Gary Johnson. “It maybe even floats a bit in the residents’ mind.”

But voters in Sandia Park, population 237, have strong political opinions and they are hoping to make them count.

On a per capita basis, Sandia Park has given more to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton than any other city in New Mexico, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported recently.  

A Fox News Latino analysis of Federal Election Commission filings shows 10 people donated to Clinton, 24 to Trump, and 4 to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. None donated to Jill Stein’s Green Party.

There also was notable support for candidates who did not get nominated, as 15 people donated to Bernie Sanders, eight donated to Ted Cruz, three to Ben Carson and one to Carly Fiorina.

Commissioner Johnson described the demographics in Sandia Park as “a little bit of everyone,” with mixed income levels and a large Hispanic population.

Longtime resident David King, 62, said next week’s election is the most important of his lifetime. For King, Trump’s values are closest to those he wants in office.

“He’s not perfect and he’s got some problems, but I don’t know anybody that’s perfect out there anyway,” said King, a former state treasurer.

He said he believes Trump will win in the Sandia Park area two to one. He said his cousin who’s a Democrat is voting for Trump, along with a majority of his family.

Mary Prescilla Lucero, an 82-year-old retired teacher, is pulling the other way. Lucero has only lived in Sandia Park since 2006, but she used lived not far away in Albuquerque.

“She’ll get it done. She’s a woman, that’s what women do,” she said.

But Lucero is not just supporting Clinton; she openly dislikes Trump. She says she agrees with many Republican principles and she would be OK with McCain or Romney in the White House. But Trump, she said, is unacceptable.

“He seems against everything,” said Lucero. “I haven’t figured out exactly what he’s for.”

King and Lucero have opposing views on abortion.

“I think having abortions at seven, eight, nine months; that’s crazy,” said King.

“I think it is an extremely difficult decision,” said Lucero. “But I don’t think the government should interfere. It is a highly personal thing and I don’t think the local governor, or the attorney general, or the president or anybody should make that decision for a woman.”

On immigration, Lucero and King are much closer.

“Immigration has got to be monitored,” said King. “I think it’s great to have people coming in here but they have to be vetted and come in legally.”

“I’m not against it, we need workers.” said Lucero. “And of course I think it should be regulated, I think it should be fair.”

On the economy, King believes Trump is the best option for job creation because he said he’s the only one that’s ever been in the business world.

He also believes Trump will do the best job balancing the budget. As a former state treasurer, King believes it’s best to have a balanced budget at the federal level.

“We have that in our state constitution and it has worked pretty well,” said King. “I think if we had that on the federal level it would be a lot better.”

Lucero was frank and said that, either way, the economy won’t affect her much because she’s reasonably well off. However, she did have a strong opinion about getting people back to work and how it should be done.

“I think if you get a really strong economy going, if you have more revenue, then you have a chance to do something about the budget,” said Lucero.

To get people back to work, Lucero thinks infrastructure projects like roads and damns would be good for jobs and good for the country.

In addition, Lucero was adamant about raising the minimum wage.

“In this country, as rich as we are, we can’t have people living on starvation wages,” said Lucero. “That is immoral.”