A proud, defiant Javier Gonzales delivered his final State of the City address Tuesday night. At turns emotional and intransigent, the mayor spoke of four years of accomplishments and railed against candidates for city office who choose to run "a political campaign that appeals to division and anger."
With little more than a month left in his term, most of the speech was reflective. Gonzales heralded gains made in the job market—he claimed 2,000 new ones— and boasted of 1,000 housing starts.
He pushed back against what he warned was an "us versus them" mentality that had been creeping into city politics—a swipe at unnamed political opponents that seemed aimed at least at city councilor and mayoral candidate Ron Trujillo, with whom Gonzales has tangled on the City Council.
"In Santa Fe, family isn't just about blood, but about a sense of place, a realization of history, a shared set of values and a culture that every Santa Fean comes from and gives back to in their own way," Gonzales said.
"More than any budget we balanced or program that we created, let that idea—that our values and our identity give us the power to overcome our obstacles—be the thing that carries forward from our time here," he said. "Let that be our legacy, and our time will not have been wasted."
The mayor was at his most strident at the end of his nearly hour-long speech, when he said the city must never shrink from its challenges or refuse to think big.
"Never turn inward in desperation or be seduced by the ridiculous idea, as some would have it, that we cannot do more for one another—that we have no more duty to one another—than to pull weeds in city medians," he said.
Neither Trujillo nor city councilor and mayoral hopeful Joseph Maestas was present for the speech. Councilor Peter Ives and fellow candidate Alan Webber were in the audience. Kate Noble, a member of the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education, was at a board meeting.
In addition to praising himself and his allies for efforts like the Verde Fund and for not backing down from Santa Fe's stance as a sanctuary city, Gonzales acknowledged spending more time dealing with the budgetary grunt work than he ever thought he'd have to do.
He admitted defeat as well, in the high-profile sugary-drink tax election last May, just months before he made the surprise decision to only seek a single term.
"We got our clocks cleaned on the soda tax for early childhood education—no question about it. But we made that effort because we believe in our children," Gonzales told a crowd of about 150 people at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, adding he was proud that "we took action when action was needed."
Months after saying he wanted to take a step back from public life late last summer, he announced his current run for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. That fact was likely not lost on the crowd when they were shown a short bio film on Gonzales, nor when he entered to U2's anthem "Where the Streets Have No Name."
Gonzales choked up early on as he talked about his family's history in Santa Fe—his father, George, also served a single term from 1968-1972—and again as he thanked his daughters. He apologized for the latter tears to his presumably embarrassed daughter, Cadence.
Meow Wolf co-founder Vince Kadlubek introduced Gonzales, saying he'd found a friend in the mayor, and a person who was open to growing Santa Fe while at the same time recognizing that many parts of the city had been ceded to tourists.
"The voice of the people in every single district is being heard loud and clear," Kadlubek said.
The mayor attempted to inject a little humor into the largely formal, produced affair, and riffed on late-night host Jimmy Kimmel's "Mean Tweets" segment, reading and responding on camera to jabs made at him on Twitter.
One tweet called Gonzales' proposed sugary-drink tax stupid.
"Why not tax chicken?" it asked. "Everyone eats that crap."
"We do tax your crap," Gonzales quipped. "Check your sewer bill."