Editor's Note:Please note we have amended this copy with a new endorsement on Oct. 23. The original copy remains below.
What we hope never happens just did. Last week SFR endorsed Greg Scargall as its pick for District 4 City Council. We are now withdrawing that endorsement and giving it instead to Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez.
It's a time-honored tradition for the editors and publishers at local newspapers to take a hard look at the candidates and issue a recommendation. With SFR's District 4 endorsement, I read everything that had been published by and about the candidates, spent time listening to them in person, and checked in with our reporters who vetted their claims and backgrounds.
I chose Scargall because he seemed like a person who demonstrated more commitment, growth and potential than the other two candidates in the race. Maybe he still does.
But it's now become clear he also demonstrates a pattern of angry, troubling behavior, and SFR cannot stand behind its original choice.
I knew Scargall had an unprosecuted domestic violence allegation from 2012. He had told The New Mexican as much when he ran for office the last time around. I knew he'd had trouble with alcohol and I understood he had been working hard for seven years to stay sober. And I thought all of that was in his past.
SFR learned two days after publishing its endorsement that Scargall's wife had called 911 in early September to ask for police intervention again. Police reports indicate she told officers a verbal fight ensued because she got home late and forgot to buy milk on the way. She filed for divorce this month.
The news sent our reporter to the courthouse, where she found case files on two other times police investigated claims between the couple, including the 2012 incident in which Scargall's wife says he grabbed her by the face, threw her around and left bruises.
No charges were filed then or after the incident on Sept. 11, and Scargall's wife declined to speak with reporters about it. (See page 11). Nonetheless, the records cast doubt on his candidacy. SFR has reported on New Mexico's systemic domestic violence problem over the years and does not feel comfortable endorsing a candidate who has alleged incidents of it so prominently featured in his history.
That same trip to the courthouse led to the revelation that a second candidate in the race also has an old, unprosecuted domestic violence case. Xavier Anderson says that 2010 request for a protective order was a product of "an ugly divorce" with one of his ex-wives and that he's now been happily remarried for eight years. When we published that information, however, his reaction to our reporting wasn't the stuff of leadership.
So that leaves us with Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez. She needs to develop more ideas and knowledge about city policy, which is what put her at the bottom of our initial list. But she's got a clean record. She's highly educated and has a vested interest in the future here, the city where she grew up. She's clear-eyed and she wants to be your city councilor, District 4. She'll add a perspective that's not present on the council now, both as a public health professional and as a young mother. She's today's best choice.
Original Article Starts Here:
Let's admit it. This fall's city election feels less than thrilling. We're all still getting used to the calendar shift that has us going to the polls for city offices now rather than in the spring.
Lack of competition for the one citywide choice means there isn't a choice at all. No attorneys took on the risk of running against incumbent Municipal Judge Virginia Vigil even though the judge is facing professional standards complaints and a whistleblower lawsuit.
Then, there are two City Council districts where incumbent councilors also get a pass. Not that we have any major bones to pick with District 1 Councilor Renee Villarreal or District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera in particular—apparently their constituents don't, either.
Nevertheless, we think the people who represent the city have important jobs and matter for our collective futures. So we hope everyone pays enough attention to make sure they're on the rolls and counted.
In two parts of the city, however, there's plenty of reason to choose.
First, look to District 2, where Councilor Peter Ives decided to put down the scepter after serving since 2012 and then coming in fifth in a five-way mayor's race. Moving in to replace him are Alysia Lori Abbott and Michael J Garcia. Neither has run for office before, and they present a striking difference in tack, even if both demonstrate a steep learning curve on city code and the nuance of policymaking at City Hall. In our interviews, both opined on some half-baked plans: Garcia seems to think people really want to "digest" information about city policies; Abbott couldn't explain what she meant by "we have to tie development to water" beyond what's on the books today.
Abbott, an archaeologist who's lived on the east side for the last 30 years and jumped into the race late, admitted she gathered her signatures for the ballot petition within the last 72 hours of the deadline. Garcia, on the other hand, made a decision to go for it much sooner.
We also like that he's got the educational and teamwork background to set him up for the homework ahead, a master's in public administration from UNM and a career that's included a federal management job. A born-and-raised Santafesino, he's firmly grounded here and chose to return. The district includes Canyon Road, but it's so much more than that—encapsulating the hospital employment area near St. Michael's, the Zia train station and neighborhoods as diverse as Sol y Lomas and Vista Hermosa. Garcia seems equipped with a plan to do a lot of listening, and then to make what he describes as "hard decisions."
We like that Abbott made a point to not call Garcia her opponent or adversary. We think she'd be a great addition to the H-Board or the Planning Commission when the mayor is next taking names. But this year for City Council District 2, we lean toward Garcia.
Voters in Southside and central District 4 also have a choice this go-round with another three-way race to fill the seat to which Councilor Mike Harris is not seeking re-election. Again, it feels like in this case the job should go to the person who wants it the hardest.
Greg Scargall ran two years ago and lost after the second round of tabulation with 43% of votes. In that race, it was just 587 votes. Not only did he work again to get on the ballot and campaign, but he also recently left his longtime job at the Santa Fe Community
College to fill a gap on the front lines of Santa Fe Public Schools in a fourth grade classroom. Talking to Scargall, we're not filled with any of the jargony dread and buzzwords that threaten local political moves; we just see someone who thinks the city he grew up in can do a better job and who isn't afraid to work for it. It's clear that he's in touch with the part of Santa Fe that needs a voice—where rents are rising and kids are at risk.
Thanks to ranked choice voting, we can also suggest what order to put the candidates in, so our second choice is Xavier Anderson. He's put in a long career with public safety jobs for various local governments, and we love the way he analyzes problems and lays out a solution. Props to Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez who just boomeranged back to town after leaving for school and her early career. We hope this isn't the last we see of her.
However you vote, we hope to see your opinion reflected in the totals on election night.
In 2018, when Alan Webber became mayor, just 38% of the city's 54,156 voters cast ballots and people cheered the "high participation." How low will that limbo stick drop this time?
PS: Santa Fe Public School Board is also coming around this cycle. We urge residents of the district to check out the League of Women Voters guide to learn about the candidates. Get more info at lwvsfc.org or get a hard copy at any of the city library branches.
Through Nov. 2
- COUNTY CLERK’S OFFICE: 8 am to 5 pm Monday through Friday at the 102 Grant Ave.
- SIX SITES: Noon to 8 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays
- in Santa Fe at the Christian Life Church, 121 Siringo Road, and Santa Fe County Fair Building, 3229 Rodeo Road;
- And Adebon Lopez Community Center, 155A Camino de Quintana, Santa Cruz; Edgewood Elementary School; Max Coll Corridor Community Center, 16 Avenida Torreon, Eldorado; Pojoaque County Satellite Office, 5 W Gutierrez Ste. 9, Pojoaque Pueblo Plaza.
- SIX SITES: Noon to 8 pm Tuesdays through Saturdays
ELECTION DAY, NOV. 5
Qualified voters may cast ballots at any of the county's 30 convenience centers locations between 7 am and 7 pm. *Note: Only those with addresses registered within the city limits are eligible to vote in the city races.
- Amy Biehl Community School, 301 Avenida Del Sur
- Atalaya Elementary School, 721 Camino Cabra
- Benny J Chavez Community Center, 354A Juan Medina Road, Chimayo
- Chaparral Elementary School, 2451 Avenida Chaparral
- Christian Life Church, 121 Siringo Road
- Edgewood Elementary School, 171 State Road 344, Edgewood
- El Camino Real Academy, 2500 S Meadows Road
- El Rancho Senior Center, 394 County Road 84, El Rancho
- Galisteo Community Center, 35 Avenida Vieja, Galisteo
- Glorieta Pass Fire Station #2, 366 Old Denver Highway, Glorieta
- Gonzales Community School, 851 W Alameda St.
- Hondo Fire Station #2, 645 Old Las Vegas Highway
- La Cienega Community Center, 136 Camino San Jose, La Cienega
- Max Coll Corridor Community Center, 16 Avenida Torreon, Eldorado
- Montezuma Lodge, 431 Paseo de Peralta
- Nambe Community Center, 180A State Road 503, Nambe
- Nambe Pueblo Tribal Administration Bldg., 15 Bayay Poe, Nambe Pueblo
- Nina Otero Community School, 5901 Herrera Drive
- Pojoaque Middle School, 1797 State Road 502, Pojoaque
- Salazar Elementary School, 1231 Apache Ave.
- San Ildefonso Pueblo Visitor Center, 74 Povi Kaa Drive, San Ildefonso Pueblo
- Santa Fe County Fair Bldg., 3229 Rodeo Road
- Santa Fe County Fire Station (La Tierra), 6 Arroyo Calabasas Road
- St. John’s United Methodist Church, 1200 Old Pecos Trail
- St. Joseph’s Parish Hall, 2 E Waldo St., Cerrillos
- Stanley Cyclone Center, 22 W Kinsell Ave., Stanley
- Tesuque Elementary School, 1555 Bishops Lodge Road, Tesuque
- Tesuque Pueblo Intergenerational Center, 39 TP 804, Tesuque Pueblo
- Tony E Quintana Elementary, 20 E Sombrillo Road, Highway 106, Espanola
- Turquoise Trail Charter Elementary School, 13A San Marcos Loop