Golfers: Cast Your Vote for Barbara Baca for Conservancy District Board 0

Barbara Baca MRGCD candidate

Baca Helped Improve Playing Conditions at Ladera

EDITORIAL – There wasn't much right about the administration of former Mayor Richard J. Berry, the man who – to his everlasting shame – saddled Albuquerque taxpayers with a lemon of an Albuquerque Rapid Transit bus system

But one bright spot was Parks and Recreation Director Barbara Baca.

During Baca's tenure at Parks and Rec from 2009-2014, Ladera Golf Course, long the stepchild of Albuquerque municipal golf courses, made significant strides in improved turf conditioning, irrigation and cart-path renovation.

When she took over Parks and Rec in 2009, Baca convened meetings among stakeholders in the local golf industry. She tried actually to find out what the municipal courses needed and what golfers wanted.

Progress was fitful and stymied by structural issues. The pro shop doesn't supervise the maintenance people, for instance. The mayor insisted the courses, unlike swimming pools, for example,  to be self-supporting. But the general direction under her leadership was forward, and the condition of the city's golf courses actually improved.

Which is why Barbara Baca, running for an at-large seat in next month's Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District Board election, deserves the vote of all golfers in the region who own property within the MRGCD boundaries.

The election is Tuesday, June 4. Early voting continues through June 1. Here's where to vote. On the poll-location map, the eight locations highlighted in red are also serve as early-voting locations through next Saturday.

Take a look at this map. The MRGCD ditches are where the city meets the country. The ribbon of green on the map is the section of Bernalillo County where residents are taxed to support MRGCD water deliveries. If you own land within the MRGCD boundaries, you're eligible to vote in the MRGCD election.

Similar swaths of property lie within the MRGCD boundaries in Valencia, Sandoval and Socorro counties.

Barbara Baca Background

Before she ran Albuquerque's parks and golf courses, Barbara Baca spent more than 25 years as a city open-space planner. Before that she worked for a rivers and trails program on behalf of the National Park Service. She holds a master's in recreation administration from the University of Colorado, Boulder.

The MRGCD was created to bring Rio Grande water to the farmers of the Rio Grande Valley. That job remains its central purpose. But over the year,s as the region has grown, the district's ditches have become a vital network of green spaces for hikers, bikers, dog-walkers, bird-watches and horseback riders.

Barbara Baca comes from a family of Rio Grande farmers. She understands the balance needed for the MRGCD to serve the region's farmers while preserving open space for the general public.

She has been endorsed by a slew of outdoor-recreation advocates and conservation groups. That's fitting, as the ditches along the Rio Grande are vital to quality of life in four counties.

Dan Vukelich, editor of New Mexico Golf News, is a former politics and government reporter for The Albuquerque Tribune and former editor of ABQ Free Press.

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Dan Vukelich, former editor of ABQ Free Press and Sun Country Golf magazine, is editor of He is a member of the Golf Writers Association of America and the Golf Travel Writers of America. Reach him at

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