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March 2, 1994; Vol. 19, Issue 37.

Montaño, Moore, Delgado, Manning Elected in a Populist Sweep. And… Hang On, It’s Debbie!

March 2, 1994; Vol. 19, Issue 37.

January 22, 2014, 12:00 am
By
At 10 minutes before 9 pm Tuesday night the political history of Santa Fe shifted sharply and suddenly, as City Councilor Debbie Jaramillo—loved in some precincts and feared in others—scored a startling upset victory, becoming the city’s first female mayor ever and carrying into office with her revamped city council that largely supports her populist views.

Trailing by 12 percentage points in public opinion polls published just two days before the election, Jaramillo stormed into city hall on a tide of voter resentment against untrammeled development in the city and the high-rolling campaign contributions that went to her principal opponent, City Councilor Peso Chavez...

“It’s a clear mandate that this town is not for sale,” Jaramillo told supporters and the press as she entered the city council chambers to claim the victory. She said her first act as mayor after she is sworn in on Monday will be to meet with the city council to begin building a consensus. Repeating her often-misunderstood position—and perhaps reaching out to the business community—she said her election meant “not that this town will be closed to development, but that the development will work for everyone.”

The council she will meet with—which will play the principal role in shaping the city’s future—will be much more to her liking than ever she could have anticipated.

In District 2, Cris Moore, a 25-year-old intellecutal most closely identified with the Green Party, scored his own upset victory over two well-financed opponents, Louise Leopold and Jack Sullivan. In District 3, Councilor Frank Montaño, who shares many of Jaramillo’s populist views, hung onto his seat in a tight race with educator Fernando Ramirez, who outspent him five to one. In District 4, moderate Amy Manning defeated former Gas Company vice president Joe Ruiz for the seat that Chavez gave up to run for the council. Councilor Larry Delgado, a moderate, easily won reelection in District 1 as expected.

“They are people councilors!” Jaramillo exclaimed jubilantly as television lights gleamed off her black hair and toothy grin.

But long after the poetry of campaign has faded, the daunting prose of governing will confront Jaramillo and the new councilors. And even if the new mayor and a majority of councilors see eye-to-eye on everything (which they won’t), change will not take place overnight.

Jaramillo will push for more affordable housing, for less emphasis on tourism and high-end construction, and for a more diverse local economy. Neighborhoods also probably will gain a stronger voice in city hall. But progress could be glacial.


This year marks SFR’s 40th anniversary. Celebrate with us by reading excerpts of stories that have graced our pages through the years.
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