Two candidates are in the race for Santa Fe County Commission District 5's open seat, being vacated by the current commissioner for the district, Ed Moreno. In our time-honored election tradition, SFR quizzed the candidates to find out what each knows about the county and how COVID-19 has impacted its daily functioning. The district includes Eldorado, and the central part of the county just south of the city limits.

Only registered major party candidates can vote in the June 2 primary election, and since no Republicans qualified for the ballot in this race, the likely winner will be determined now rather than the November general election.

As always, the candidates promised not to turn to Google, smartphones, companions, or any other source besides their own knowledge to answer.

Questions:

  1. Name three actions the county currently takes to help homeowners at risk of foreclosure.
  2. What is the county manager’s salary?
  3. What are the statutory reserve requirements for the county’s general fund?
  4. What is “Business Advocate”?
  5. What Santa Fe County Services were closed because of COVID-19?
  6. What is an example of a common non-recurring expenditure for the county?

Answers:

  1. The county provides a Foreclosure Prevention Program to prevent foreclosure of a home purchased under the Affordable Housing Program and for which the county holds an Affordability Mortgage and Lien, the county has five tools which it uses to prevent foreclosure: Assist homeowner in seeking a refinance of an existing loan from the first mortgage lender; assist homeowner in securing a loan modification from the first mortgage lender; arrange emergency short-term mortgage assistance per program requirements in cases of job loss or other severe economic hardships; arrange a voluntary sale to another income-qualified buyer meeting program requirements; purchase the home.
  2. $201,731.30
  3. The reserve required for the general fund is 25% of budgeted expense and for the Road Fund is one month of budgeted expense or 8.33%.
  4. The county’s “Business Advocate” office provides: investment and financing assistance, business support services and resources, networking, educational and workforce development opportunities and marketing services
  5. All Santa Fe County senior centers are closed until further notice. The Santa Fe County Department of Public Safety has discontinued visitation for residents at the jail. All activities at community centers will be postponed. Affected community centers include the following: Nancy Rodriguez, El Rancho, Cundiyo, the Max Coll Corridor Community Center in Eldorado, Rio En Medio, La Cienega, Nambe Community Center, and the Bennie J. Chavez Community Center in Chimayo. In conjunction with the New Mexico Public Education Department, Santa Fe County suspended its Teen Court Program.
  6. The county makes building, land or vehicle purchases, as well as buys furniture, fixtures and equipment.

Hank Hughes 

Hank Hughes is the executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. Before that, he worked as the executive director of St. Elizabeth's Shelter. Hughes wants to bring his experience running nonprofits to the county seat to help develop affordable housing.

  1. I’m thinking. Reaction that the county currently takes, you mean? … Right. So I’m just trying to think… I know what the city does but I’m trying to think what the county does. I’m thinking that the county, for one thing, doesn’t do probably enough in that regard. I think that they provide a little bit of funding for home ownership classes and financial literacy.
  2. It’s in the range of $150,000 a year.
  3. I believe it’s about 5%.
  4. I’m thinking that’s probably someone who works with businesses to promote small businesses in Santa Fe.
  5. Well, most of them, actually. Certainly the county clerk in the treasurer’s office were closed except for appointments. The sheriff was cut back and and unessential businesses were basically closed.
  6. Common non-recurring expenditure would probably be the capital projects like the roads and the water projects.

Floyd Trujillo

Floyd Trujillo is the director of information technology for the New Mexico Finance Authority and has served for 20 years on the Turquoise Trail Charter School Governance Council. He previously told SFR he wants the county to help improve educational outcomes.

  1. The county takes to help homeowners… I do not have details of that right off the top of my head.
  2. I believe… I don’t know this for sure, but I believe the county manager’s salary is something like $160,000 a year.
  3. I believe 5%.
  4. So my understanding is that the “Business Advocate” is a type of ombudsman who represents that kind of liaison between the county and the business community.
  5. I think county services that were closed… I believe that parks and those types of recreational type facilities were closed. And I do know that waste management, for example, has had slightly modified hours.
  6. A common non-recurring expenditure… An infrastructure project, so like a one-time road improvement.