Coss is elected mayor with the help of labor groups and supporters of Santa Fe’s “living wage” ordinance, which he helped pass as a city councilor. “You’re going to see more and more municipalities taking matters into their own hands,” he tells TIME Magazine in August. “Poverty just isn’t a necessary ingredient for economic development.”
A visible man-about-town, Coss rides the bus (or his bike) to work and rarely shies away from lefty events. In March, the Albuquerque Journal spots him protesting the war in Iraq. “I call on the Democrats that we elected to Congress,” Coss said. “Bring our men and women home.”
As mayor, Coss will oversee major public works, including projects to revitalize the Santa Fe River and the sometimes-controversial Railyard, which breaks ground in 2007. Later, one of the principal developers will threaten to sue the City Council, even as it continues to bail out the beleaguered company. “There’ve been times when it’s been difficult to work with them,” Coss later tells SFR. But, he adds, “Certainly, we can do nothing and see if it fails.”
“The 2008 zombie story is, of course, the thing that sticks out the most to me,” writes SFR ex-editor Julia Goldberg of notable Coss moments, “since it was pretty awesome having the mayor willing to dress up like a zombie and sit for his makeup and then be on the cover.” An undead Coss appears in SFR’s Oct. 29 issue, with a fictional story featuring Coss coming up with nonviolent solutions to save the City Different from a zombie attack—only to be bitten by a “zombie senior citizen.”
In April, Coss advocates floating revenue bonds to save the College of Santa Fe and helps guide a bond package through City Council. The result: Santa Fe secures a loan for $30 million to buy the campus and lease it to Laureate Education, Inc. CSF is reborn as the Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
“Picture Mr. Rogers stumbling into a James Bond flick.” That’s how SFR’s then-reporter Corey Pein begins an odd tale about Coss’ signing a proclamation declaring May 10 “Heydar Aliyev Day,” in honor of a deceased Soviet intelligence official who took over as ruler of Azerbaijan in a military coup. Turns out Aliyev doesn’t have the best human-rights record, and Coss appears to have unwittingly become a pawn in an international effort to reshape Aliyev’s image. “Sometimes you find out you’ve gone into a controversy that you never intended to be part of,” he tells SFR. Whoops.
In October, the City Council votes unanimously to curtail nudity, including banning male genitals—even if they’re covered—“in a discernibly turgid state.” Coss tells a local newspaper, “I do not want us to become known as the capital of the World Naked Bike Ride.”
Once an officer for the Communications Workers of America, a pro-union Coss publicly defends nurses in their dispute with management over staffing levels at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center. A strike is avoided, but tensions remain.
Coss announces he’ll run for former House Speaker Ben Luján’s seat—but, if he wins, says he plans to retain his mayoral post, too. “Being mayor is too much fun,” he tells the New Mexican’s Steve Terrell. Coss ends up losing by just over 200 votes to Democrat Carl Trujillo.
Shortly before announcing he won’t run for a third term, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss expresses support for a measure encouraging county clerks to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The measure—which argues that New Mexico law is gender-neutral when it comes to marriage—passes City Council.