County clerk, students film ad to increase turnout in school elections

Story and photo by Matt Hollinshead with the Rio Rancho Observer

BERNALILLO — Taking center stage showcasing Sandoval County schools ahead of the local elections, several local youth enjoyed being part of that greater cause.

The youngsters went in front of a camera Sept. 17 at Bernalillo Elementary School for a public service announcement overseen by the Sandoval County Clerk’s Office.

“This is my first time being in a commercial, and I’m glad that I got to be in it,” said Emily Perez, a third-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas School, a private school in Rio Rancho.

The county partnered with KOAT-TV’s camera crew to put together the commercial.

County Clerk Anne Brady-Romero said the goal was to encourage people to vote in November’s school board elections.

“We thought because our kids are our future, that we should have all the kids get together and say what they like most about school and get the parents to continue to exercise their right and voice to vote,” Brady-Romero said.

Deputy Clerk Joey Dominguez said school board elections are usually “low-buzz” elections, and shooting the commercial would encourage voting.

Emily Perez, a third-grader at St. Thomas Aquinas School in Rio Rancho, goes down the playground slide while taking part in a public service announcement commercial on Friday, Sept. 17, 2021, at Bernalillo Elementary School.
(Matt Hollinshead/Observer)

He said the county’s targeting 20 percent voter turnout for a better return on the investment toward this year’s elections. He also said it costs the county $241,000 to pay poll workers.

Sandoval County’s kindergarten through 12th-grade school districts are Rio Rancho Public Schools, Bernalillo Public Schools, Cuba Independent Schools and Jemez Valley Public Schools. There’s also Central New Mexico Community College, which is holding board elections.

“The parents voting in this election benefits their children’s future,” Dominguez said.

The elementary school students memorized their lines about enjoying the playground. The middle school students discussed liking books and Chromebook computers inside the library. The two high school students involved in the commercial discussed participating in athletics on the basketball court.

“It’s a great feeling just being able to do something out of my comfort zone, do it with confidence,” said Zachary Gallegos, a sophomore at Cleveland High School. “To be honest, I didn’t really feel like (the camera was) there. I just like to be myself… I’d love to see it take off, being able to build new stuff for our campuses, being able to get new supplies, new everything… (The commercial) can show many different things about schools, and it can just show how much we can improve, how much we need to improve.”

Despite all the re-takes needed to get their scenes just right, the kids quickly realized and accepted that was part of the deal in shooting a commercial. In the end, the consensus among the kids was clear: The commercial helped highlight the schools in a positive way.

“It was fun,” said Grace Vigil, a first-grader at Joe Harris Elementary.