All of the candidates currently running for Santa Fe City Council in the November plan to seek public financing for their campaigns, according to City Clerk Yolanda Vigil.

The public campaign financing system, intended to minimize private donors’ ability to choose candidates with their checkbooks, requires candidates to accrue 150 donations of $5 or more from registered voters within their districts by July 22 to qualify. Once they do, they receive $15,000 for their campaigns from a fund set up by the city.

Municipal Court Judge Virginia Vigil, who’s up for reelection and is unopposed so far, has not begun the process to access public financing, according to the City Clerk.
Recent changes to state law that attempt to bring a host of smaller elections under the same purview, and therefore put them on the same ballot, mean that the jurisdiction for public financing has shifted slightly. That change was solidified last week when councilors voted to remove a reference to a now non-existent state law and bring the city into compliance.
Now some of the responsibility, previously held entirely by the city clerk, will be shared with Santa Fe County clerk.
“I call it a hybrid,” Vigil tells SFR. “So the city will be doing certain things and the county will handle certain things. The city will do the nominating petitions, we’ll do everything regarding public financing, the county clerk will do election day activities, they will do early voting, absentee voting, things of that nature.”

The same rule changes that precipitated the municipal Election Day move from the spring of 2020 to Nov. 5 of this year are responsible for the more recent changes to municipal elections.

The next deadlines for candidates is July 22, when nominating petitions are due to the city. Employees in the clerk’s office will review and verify whether candidates have collected enough signatures from qualifying voters.  Then, once the requests for public financing are approved, the city clerk will deliver the petitions for candidacy and public financing to the county. On Aug. 27, candidates who are not seeking public financing or fail to qualify for it will still have a chance file their formal declaration of candidacy with the county clerk.

Albuquerque’s City Council elections also use public financing, and the Albuquerque city clerk announced Tuesday the certification of 10 of the 13 candidates for to receive city money for their campaigns.

In the City Different, far fewer candidates have emerged. The two incumbents running for reelection, Renee Villarreal and Chris Rivera, in Districts 1 and 3, respectively, are currently unopposed, while only one candidate, Michael J Garcia, has emerged to run for the seat Councilor Peter Ives is vacating in District 2. Two candidates are facing off running for a second open seat in District 4, currently held by Councilor Mike Harris. Harris announced in April that he would not seek reelection due to plans to move onto a property he owns with his wife in another city district.

District 4 represents most of Midtown Santa Fe
District 4 represents most of Midtown Santa Fe