candidates look to the economy |


In a town hall organized by the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce and the Santa Fe Housing Action Coalition, each of the three mayoral candidates took turns presenting their economic assessment and vision to the Lensic Performing Arts Center on Monday evening.

The public forum focused on the economic issues facing the city while addressing a range of topics that impact businesses: broadband, public safety and zoning. A second public forum, focused on housing, will take place Tuesday evening at the performing arts center and also broadcast on YouTube.

Outgoing Mayor Alan Webber described his administration’s work over the past three and a half years to weather the tumultuous economy throughout the pandemic.

Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler painted a different tax picture of Santa Fe.

“I think Santa Fe is in desperate need of a change. That’s why I run, ”Vigil Coppler told the audience of about 250 people at the arts center and others. in line that she had questions about a 150-page audit for Fiscal Year 2020 first posted for a finance committee meeting that took place about an hour before the forum started. “I am very concerned about the audit of our city, the financial responsibility of our city … Today’s audit has come out and it is not a good picture. “

Webber explained that he inherited a disorganized municipal government as the city’s first full-time mayor and said it took a while for the city to be where it is today. He called the most recent report a “clean audit”.

“My mission as the first full-time mayor was to modernize, professionalize and streamline the city of Santa Fe so that we can be a modern city government. He added, noting that this speaks to his progressive agenda that 75% of city government managers are women.

The third candidate, Alexis Martinez Johnson, told the public: ‘My platform is security,’ referring both to the city’s public health and to the crime that she says is increasing on the streets of Santa Fe.

The event remained relatively cordial compared to past town halls with the candidates where they clashed over the mayor’s handling of the overthrow of the obelisk in the square almost a year ago on the Day of the Indigenous Peoples.

Webber pointed to Vigil Coppler’s inconsistency on the issues in his closing remarks, pointing to the mask mandate the city adopted at the start of the pandemic, which Vigil Coppler voted against.

Explaining his vote, Vigil Coppler said, “Masks saved my life when I had to wear them in a quarantine room in the 1990s. I know the value of masks. What I voted for was a flawed and unworkable resolution, where there were so many holes that it didn’t amount to much. Could have been better.

Matthew Jaramillo, event moderator and member of PNM’s government affairs team, asked the three contestants about their plans to improve broadband in the greater Santa Fe area.

Martinez Johnson suggested expanding internet access through taxes to help improve the television and film industry. Vigil Coppler offered to work with the county to reach people living in less connected areas.

Webber touted his past experience as a co-founder of tech magazine Fast Company. He highlighted the work his administration has already done, establishing “micro-transfer points” and extensions across the city that bring broadband to more homes. Webber also dangled the prospect of attracting another broadband business to Santa Fe if he was re-elected.

The candidates each took the opportunity to address zoning issues that affect business owners. Martinez Johnson has targeted the city’s cannabis zoning process which she says has failed to elicit adequate input from the public. “I want to hear from the constituents and I really think no effort was made where a lot of people were aware of the zoning that was going to happen in Santa Fe,” Martinez Johnson told the audience. “I want to make sure it’s not all in one area,” Martinez Johnson said of the need to ensure business owners across town can get involved in the cannabis industry.

Webber has been candid about the challenges businesses face in the zoning process. “We have a zoning code that is very outdated,” said Webber.

Highlighting one thing about the zoning process that he would like to change, Webber said, “We can no longer separate the idea that housing is one thing, but that a livable, sustainable and pedestrianized neighborhood is another. We need to see mixed development so that everyone lives, works and can shop within their own community. “

Vigil Coppler, who owns a real estate company, said the “patchwork” land use code was the source of many frustration with zoning. She also spoke about the need to reinvent housing in Santa Fe. “I would like us to really take matters into our own hands and consider a little higher density allowed because we will never meet the housing development goals. affordable if we don’t, ”said Vigil Coppler.

Another concern of the business community cited by Jaramillo was the authorization process. Vigil Coppler said, “This is the number one complaint I get as a city councilor. Businesses cannot obtain their planning and land use permits. They cannot get their phone calls answered.

She referred to a study by the city’s land use department, funded by the National Association of Realtors. Vigil Coppler said the study found that the department had “outdated and dilapidated tracking systems, that there wasn’t really a lot of customer service, and that the cost of a small business waiting for a permits, per month, could reach up to $ 20,000. Vigil Coppler said the cost could be $ 40,000 per month for large companies.

When Jaramillo introduced the topic of public safety to the candidates, all three candidates indicated that vacant police positions were the main cause for concern that Santa Fe has become less secure. Webber pointed to a 26% decrease in serious crime last year as evidence of his administration’s efforts to support the police: including the Alternative Response Unit, a team of social workers, paramedics and police trained in the issues. behavioral health.

Early voting begins Tuesday for the November 5 election. Read the SFR Election FAQ here.

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