Sweet Speech

7 Highlights From Councilor Ron Trujillo's Anti-Sugar Tax Opus

You were probably asleep Wednesday night when City Councilor Ron Trujillo logged the sole vote against holding a special election in Santa Fe on May 2, but we don't want you to miss out on an epic rant the likes of which only this guy can deliver.

Although he said he wouldn't "dwell on" his opinion since it was clear at just after 11 pm, and long before, that Mayor Javier Gonzales and other supporters had enough votes to pass the measure, Trujillo read for nearly 17 minutes from a 5-page statement. (Read the whole thing below—if you've got the time.)

Among his arguments to vote against the tax on sugary beverages and use the money to support pre-K programs:

1. Some supporters of the tax don’t drink sodas.

More than one person at the three-hour public testimony said they stay away from unhealthy beverages and opined that others should too.

2. People will be forced to buy diet soda, which is not subjected to the tax.

Oh, and diet soda is scary and bad. "I'm no doctor, but everything I have ever read about diet sodas says diet sodas are much worse to consume than regular sodas," he said, failing to name any of the "studies" that made his case. Trujillo also had trouble reading some of the words he copied from the ingredient list of diet soda (you try pronouncing "cyclamate" after 11 pm).

3. No more free refills.

Waitstaff wouldn't cry.

4. Bars will stop giving free soda to designated drivers and beer will be cheaper than soda. 

If it's sound, this multi-layered theory spells disaster for a town already struggling with a drunken driving epidemic. One of Trujillo's recent claims to fame is helping the Santa Fe Fuego baseball game organizers keep fans liquidated and lubricated. Even with the tax that shakes out to about a quarter on a can of soda, those $6 cans of beer will still be more spendy—at least at the ballpark. We're not sure about how bars will react, but we suggest that if this scenario plays the DD's make the drunks buy their Cokes.

5. Some people will buy their soda outside city limits.

Economist Kelly O'Donnell says she factored this possibility in when coming up with revenue estimates, noting that Santa Fe is more geographically isolated than other cities who've recently implemented sugar taxes.

Also, seeing as people already apparently schlep all the way to Albuquerque to go to Costco, we're pretty sure at least some people will leave the city with soda on the brain. State officials say this happens with smokers who want to avoid cigarette taxes and hit the Pueblo marts instead. For juice and pop, though, Espanola Walmart isn't that far? And things would get a whole lot brighter for the Allsups at 599.

6. The city needs to fix potholes and provide other services more urgently than this whole preschool thing. 

Trujillo has made no secret for years now that he plans to be on the mayoral ballot for the 2018 municipal, and this part of the speech came off as a classic plea for a return to basic services and a come together now rhetoric. 

"My hope is that we can move on from these ordinances and resolutions that have divided our community, that pit neighbor against neighbor, business against eduction, job against job, friend against friend, SantaFesinio against SantaFesino and hopefully get back to the real business tasked to us on the City Council: insuring streets, sidewalks, public safety, trash pickup, distribution of water, medians are free of weeds and debris ..." 

Considering that the city has faced budget deficits for year, raiding its reserves and taking other austerity measures, other people probably feel this way too. 

7. Taxing soda is a gateway to taxing “chicharrones, chile, beans and tortillas."

Say it ain't so!

The special election over the proposed soda tax is set for May 2. Anyone who wants to vote must be registered by April 4. Early voting begins on April 12. Read Trujillo's full statement below:

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