Though the upcoming city elections might be overshadowed by the mayor’s race, at least one city council race promises to be hotly contested.
In District 2, a plethora of candidates are lined up to replace outgoing city Councilor Rebecca Wurzburger. The district encompasses the affluent area east of downtown and up Canyon Road to the Sol y Lomas neighborhood and the more middle-class subdivisions closer to St. Francis Drive and I-25.
A look at previous city councilors for the District 2 seats also illustrates the political diversity of the district. Karen Heldmeyer, a former research psychologist who still follows city policy, advocated for the neighborhoods and pushed back against encroaching development in her eight years as a city councilor representing District 2. When she gave it up, Rosemary Romero, a consultant, served for a single term before attorney Peter Ives took over the seat. Meanwhile, Wurzburger spent 12 years pushing Santa Fe’s “creative economy,” in many ways serving the same district as Heldmeyer’s political antidote.
Wurzburger decided this time not to seek a fourth term on the council and opted to run for the mayor’s office instead. She ended her brief mayoral campaign last month shortly after failing to qualify for public financing.Now, five candidates from diverse backgrounds want to replace her on the March 4 ballot. They include a Canyon Road art gallery owner, a former Española politician, a neighborhood advocate, a small business owner and a young environmental activist.
Differentiating between each candidate’s rhetoric, however, doesn’t come as easy. Each talks about the city’s troubling future in light of an eroding water supply. Another frequent topic is Santa Fe’s low high school education graduate rate. Though much of the jurisdiction for that matter belongs with the local school board, several of the District 2 candidates say there are ways to improve communications between Santa Fe Public Schools and city government, though not always with specific
Each candidate also already appears to have his or her pet projects. Jeff Green, a young environmentalist who works as the Southwest regional coordinator for sustainable food nonprofit RealFood Challenge, says he wants Santa Fe to establish what he calls a “community rights” ordinance “that would enable the city to create a market for clean energy.” The rule, he says, would be similar to one established in Mora County that effectively banned hydraulic fracturing as a means to extract natural gas.
Mary Bonney, who runs The William and Joseph Gallery, says she wants to look into establishing a citywide rebate program for homeowners who install cisterns to collect rainwater and allow for its reuse. Rad Acton, an architect who is the previous president of the Canyon Road Association, says he wants to see a business apprenticeship program for schools coordinated by the school district, city government and the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.
Joe Arellano, who owns a general contracting and landscaping business, proposes strengthening the city’s local preference code to better favor public works contracts to Santa Fe businesses. And Joseph Maestas, who served both as a city councilor and mayor of Española, proposes funding E-Sequia, a fiber optic broadband pipeline, to help create jobs.
Learn more about the candidates with the latest installment of SFR trading cards: