Santa Fe’s new Mayor Javier Gonzales says his predecessor David Coss advised Gonzales to be as accessible as possible in his new position. A week into office, Gonzales says he’s already amazed by the number of invites he’s received. SFR’s interview request was among those entreaties for the mayor’s time. Gonzales was game. SFR edited this version for clarity and space.
SFR: What is the city looking for in a new police chief ?
JG: I clearly am intending to go in a new direction at the police department. I think Chief [Ray] Rael hit on a number of areas that we needed to hit in terms of goals: reducing burglary rates, staffing up the police department. I want a chief who is really a strong visionary, a forward thinker in what we can do to be more engaged with the public, and I think that engagement needs to come in working with the nonprofit agencies that are combating domestic violence.
You said during the campaign that the city has the right to regulate the flow and movement of marijuana in the community. Any plans yet on how to do that?
I think that was related to the discussion of legalization and why I supported it. Obviously minus any laws that legalize it, there’s limits. But my focus will be the development of our narcotics unit that’s very aggressive in stopping the drug trade in Santa Fe.
Is that a signal that there’s going to be tough enforcement by SFPD of anyone possessing marijuana? Or are you talking about going after dealers?
I’m going after dealers.
Do you plan on continuing Coss’ policy of attempting to end homelessness in the city?
For me, a lot of my priorities have focused on the youth—and there are many of them that are homeless. I want to particularly see funds that would make their way to Adelante and some of the others that are helping the youth in our community who find themselves homeless. By no means should that be viewed as walking away from Mayor Coss’ commitment to eliminate homelessness in Santa Fe.
Do you plan on revisiting the campaign finance code?
Yeah. Councilor [Peter] Ives is working on a piece of legislation, which I’ll be working with him on, that helps tighten up the public finance code to identify ways either to create more barriers for entry by outside groups or to develop a more equitable playing field, which means looking at providing more funds to campaigns that don’t have the benefit of outside groups participating.
Any plans to address the traffic issues in the city?
Right now, we’re going to revisit our whole bus transportation system. Look at the routes that are currently in place, making sure they’re the most sufficient routes as possible. Look at the use of technology to allow riders better tool sets so that when they’re on the bus, they can make some quick decisions. We’ve got to start with some of the basics first-—that will encourage more ridership of our bus system.