New Mexico National Guard members led German Shepherds around the grounds of the Capitol building in Santa Fe on Wednesday morning, enclosed behind temporary metal fencing supported by concrete barriers. Police cars from several agencies, including the city, county and State Police, sat parked with their emergency lights flashing at the intersections leading to the Roundhouse.
Both the American and state flag flew at half mast in the bitterly cold wind over an empty scene.
Welcome to Inauguration Day 2021.
The road blocks and Capitol security cost taxpayers a little over $2 million—all to protect the empty state building. Legislators and their staff were told to stay home on Jan. 20 as President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in some 1,900 miles away—among the many precautions state leaders took after violent Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Federal law enforcement had issued bulletins warning of potential, similar actions in all 50 state capitals in advance of Wednesday's transition of national power.
Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber also issued a three-day emergency proclamation on Jan. 18, instructing the city manager and other leadership to work with the state's response efforts. City employees were also instructed to stay away from downtown. The Main Library canceled curbside pickup and closed drop-off boxes on Wednesday to support the city's request that people stay away from the area.
While no protesters in support of former President Donald Trump marched in Santa Fe on Wednesday as of 2 pm, legislators and Democrats still celebrated Wednesday's events from home.
Hannah Burling, president of the League of Women Voters of New Mexico, watched the ceremony from her home in Lamy. She tells SFR she feels "relieved" and says Trump should have left office right after the insurrection.
Burling's takeaway from the inauguration and the political commentary was a focus on "reconciliation" between Democrats and Republicans and "defiance" of the DC attackers.
"'We will act together and we will restore our democracy' was, I think, the message there," Burling says.
Freshman Rep. Linda Serrato, D-Santa Fe, also noticed a focus on reunification in the inauguration speeches.
"I'm hopeful that for a lot of folks, we're starting to refind that we want that peace, that security of a nation," Serrato says. "Let's come together as a nation. Let's do what we can together and I think that's really the spirit right now."
Serrato, both a Latina and a Santa Fe Southside resident, watched the ceremony from home with her husband and dog. Her 3-year-old daughter, Alma, sat on her lap while they ate pancakes and celebrated. But Serrato cried today, she tells SFR, and when Alma asked her if she was OK, Serrato assured her daughter she was only crying "happy tears."
"It's sad to me that some of [Alma's] earliest memories will be that bitterness that we held because of all these crimes against people that we've seen over the past four years. But she saw us come together as a family and give each other hugs and get through this," Serrato says.
For Serrato, the answer to the last four years is getting back to work as a New Mexico legislator.
"I think here in our own capital, it was so symbolic that, sure, there was a lot more security, we took this very seriously, but we got straight to work," Serrato tells SFR. "We weren't going to delay this. We weren't scared. We have work to do for the people of New Mexico and we're going to do it."