Sila Avcil
Sila Avcil

Executive Director
Bob Perls
Bob Perls

Founder, President,
Independent Voter
Kathleen Burke
Kathleen Burke

Vice President
 

Luis Leyva-Castillo
Luis Leyva-Castillo

Treasurer

Melissa Ontiveros

Melissa Ontiveros
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Barry Bitzer
Barry Bitzer

Board Member,
Republican Voter
 
Karla Eickhoff
Karla Eickhoff

Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Senator Bill Tallman

Senator Bill Tallman
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Daniel Garcia

Board Member,

Democratic Voter

 

 


Sila Avcil

Sila Avcil
Executive Director

Sila was born in Iowa and raised between the United States and Turkey throughout her life. She attended high school in Turkey and moved to New Mexico to pursue her college education. Sila is an alumnus of the University of New Mexico (UNM) with her Master’s in Political Science with a focus on International Relations and Comparative Politics. She completed her BA at UNM as well, where she double majored in International Studies concentrating in Conflict, Peace, and Diplomacy, and Foreign Languages concentrating in French and German. She is a first-generation dual citizen, Turkish-American. She speaks French, German, and Turkish. She has nearly seven years of volunteer experience in the community, specifically with international students at UNM through the Center for English Language and American Culture and ISI ABQ.

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Bob Perls

Bob Perls
Founder, President,
Independent Voter

Bob moved to New Mexico when he was five years old and raised a family in Albuquerque and Corrales. He attended Albuquerque Public Schools, Pomona College, where he earned a B.A. in Government and University of Maryland where he earned an M.S. in Healthcare Management with honors. Bob started his own medical technology company, Monitech, Inc., at the age of 24 and sold it in 2008 after 25 years of operation. In addition, he was elected to two terms to the New Mexico House of Representatives representing parts of Sandoval County, did consulting for a Governor of New Mexico on ways to create jobs through renewable energy and ran unsuccessfully for Congress and the PRC for a total of 13 years of political, elected and campaign experience. He co-founded a charter school in Albuquerque, NM called Public Academy for Performing Arts. Bob spent 2009 working on two start-up companies, one in telemedicine and one in cybersecurity. He became a U.S. Diplomat in January, 2010 and served in Germany, Canada, Pakistan and The Gambia. He returned full-time to New Mexico in the spring of 2015 and lives in Corrales with his wife Joan. In 2015, he founded New Mexico Open Primaries which later became New Mexico Open Elections, a 501(c)3. Since then he has been the President of the Board. Currently, is a management consultant and is a registered independent voter.

Email: [email protected]

Phone: 1(505) 259-2377

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Kathleen Burke

Kathleen Burke
Vice President

Kathleen Burke is an independent consultant and organizer in New Mexico, USA where she is a coordinator for Fair Districts for New Mexico, a project of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico. She has been a leader in human trafficking prevention and advocacy for sex trafficking survivors in New Mexico as a member of the New Mexico Attorney General's Human Trafficking Task Force and formerly Albuquerque’s Southeast Area Community Policing Council. Today her advocacy is primarily carried out at the New Mexico Legislature and among environmental scientists.

Kathleen was a National Delegate for Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention of 2016 and an official observer to the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) in Sharm El-Sheik, Egypt. As a committed and high-profile organizer in New Mexico, Kathleen places a high priority upon issues of fairness in elections for all voters, as well as public health and the environment.

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Luis Leyva-Castillo

Luis Leyva-Castillo
Treasurer

Luis Leyva-Castillo is a licensed attorney in New Mexico and a proud alumnus of the UNM School of Law. As an immigrant, Luis champions expanding immigrant access to professional licensure, higher education, and health care in our state. He has experience in state and federal government working at the New Mexico Office of the Attorney General and in the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee. During law school, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Natural Resources Journal and is a current member of the Hispanic National Bar Association.

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Barry Bitzer

Barry Bitzer
Board Member,
Republican Voter

Barry brings a long, successful political resume to bear, often in unconventional fashion. On Capitol Hill, he was a senior aide to the late Congressman Steve Schiff and communications director for Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. He served until 2008 as chief of staff to ABQ mayor Marty Chavez, and wore a variety of hats in the administration of Governor Gary Johnson – most notably as Deputy Secretary of Human Services and Director of the Child Support Enforcement Division. Barry’s recent stint as development director at the NM BioPark Society featured a campaign for a $17 million per year GRT revenue stream to overhaul and expand the Zoo, Aquarium, Botanic Garden and Tingley Beach. A 1985 UC Berkeley Political Science graduate, Barry currently works as a Church administrator and as a science teacher at Legacy Academy. He also serves on the NM Environmental Improvement Board.

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Karla Eickhoff

Karla Eickhoff
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Karla Eickhoff is a graduate student in Political Science at the University of New Mexico, specializing in ideology and political communication. She grew up in Albuquerque and studied Politics & Government and Economics at Pacific Lutheran University, where she graduated summa cum laude. Karla is a skilled, prolific writer, an enthusiastic collaborator, and an engaging public speaker, with experience in competitive debate and academic presentations.

Karla also has extensive skill with technology and helping people with technology. She has multiple years of experience as an IT support technician, has worked with many programming languages and productivity applications, and has acted as the TA for UNM PoliSci’s introduction class for statistical programming.

Karla is ideologically far-left and a registered Democrat, but believes firmly in the importance of responsive representation, thoughtful compromise, and broad coalition-building as the foundations of good governance. Her political science research has brought her to the conclusion that changes to structural democracy, such as those advocated for by New Mexico Open Elections, are key to dismantling the processes and incentives that distort public opinion and concentrate power into few hands. She believes that when debate is not substantive, charitable, and analytical, it can hardly be called debate.

Karla is openly and proudly a transgender lesbian, loves to sing, and is highly active at her Lutheran congregation.

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Melissa Ontiveros

Melissa Ontiveros
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Director of Thriving Families at Community Action Agency Southern New Mexico. Where she developed a hybrid mentorship/navigating program. Working through a systemic approach to break down barriers and support families in meeting their goals. Melissa’s contract work includes working with the State of NM’S TUPAC Department and JEDI leadership work with Constellation inc. Melissa’s leadership and experiences range from various direct service roles: Community and Program Development, Department of Health, Health Promotion program manager overseeing eight counties in New Mexico’s SW Region; Case manager at YDI’S Gang Intervention and Prevention program, School Counselor at Van Buren Middle School, Mental & Behavioral Therapist for NM State BSC Program, Multi-Systemic and Problem Sexual Therapist at Families Youth INC.; Developmental Specialist, Early Childhood Education, and Registered Behavioral Technician at Aprendamos Intervention Team.

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Senator Bill Tallman

Senator Bill Tallman
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Bill Tallman is a retired City Manager with over 35 years of experience as the Chief Administrative Officer of several mid sized full service cities mostly in the Midwest and Northeast. Bill is the past President elect of the Connecticut City Management Assoc. He has published articles in the Public Management magazine. As an active member of the Municipal Leagues of Pennsylvania, Illinois and Connecticut, Bill has testified before many state legislative committees Bill is a past member of the Corporation for Regional Development, Quad City Civic Center Authority and the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments.

Bill received his M.A. degree in Public Administration from The University of Cincinnati and his B.A. degree in Political Science from Syracuse University. Bill’s most recent position was Deputy City Manager of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since retiring eight years ago, he has served as a pro-bono mediator in metro court, been an active board member of several non- profits and been very active in the Democratic Party before being elected a New Mexico State Senator, District 18, in 2016.

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Daniel Garcia
Board Member,
Democratic Voter

Daniel Garcia is the Communications Director and Spokesperson for the Democratic Party of New Mexico where he oversees external and internal party communications and serves as the on-record press contact.

After graduating from the University of New Mexico, Daniel worked for the New Mexico Office of the Speaker, the New Mexico Senate Democrats, several congressional campaigns, Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, the Bernalillo County Clerk's office, and many down-ballot races. His experiences on campaigns have taken him to all 33 counties in New Mexico, across almost every campaign role, including management, fundraising, organizing, and communications. 

So why would a professional Democrat join an organization that many would say weakens partisan control of elections? daniel believes every voter should be able to fully exercise their fundamental right to vote and participate in our democracy without barriers, even partisan ones. 

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