Back to the Races

Anyone running against Webber in his bid for reelection could face an expensive campaign

On Sunday, Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber announced his plans to run for a second term.  A day later, he did not face any competition in the race, but there are still two months to go before it officially begins. Potential opponents will have to weigh their ability to raise thousands for the campaign.

City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler has hinted about her interest in the position in the past, yet she's not announced whether she plans to run for reelection for her current council seat, or enter the race for mayor as the challenger.

In an interview with SFR, Vigil Coppler expressed strong opinions about the qualities the city requires in a mayor at this moment, but did not commit to the race.

"I really think that Santa Fe needs a mayor who can unite the community, because, at this time, I think we're really divided where we find ourselves now, and I don't think that's a good thing," she said Monday. "I think we need a mayor who can give us a little better quality of life and preserve what we know our strengths to be…I certainly would want to be that kind of mayor should I go for it."

Santa Fe Public Schools Board Kate Noble, who ran for mayor 2018, has raised similar concerns, but says she does not plan to take on Webber this year.

In a recent social media post, Noble expressed worry the race could deepen divisions in the community and the tension of the current political climate if candidates used “negative tactics that have proven effective with voters” to bash on each other.

She also raised concerns about the influence of money in politics and Webber's ability to outspend his opponents.

Webber, who published an op-ed with his campaign news in Sunday's New Mexican and his campaign website, set a new record for the most expensive mayoral campaign in Santa Fe's history in the last election after he raised $311,000 for his privately funded bid for office.

Later that year, the City Council grudgingly passed changes to the city's public campaign finance laws to allow publicly funded candidates to raise $30,000 in donations and a $30,000 city match in addition to their $60,000 disbursement from the fund.

The public campaign fund is supposed to level the playing field and increase transparency of local elections by limiting the amount of money flowing into campaigns from out of state.

For Coppler, the difference between the public financing option and the amount raised by Webber in the last election would take public financing off the table.

"This mayor has a lot of money…I think public financing, the way it's built it, you know, it can't compete," she said.

Noble said she wants to spend more time with her family while her son is in elementary school but hopes to run for the position again at some point in the future.

Former City Councilor Ron Trujillo came in second place in the 2018 race after electing to run a publicly funded campaign. He has been one of the mayor's most vocal critics in the last year for the way Webber handled controversy regarding the removal and destruction of public monuments in 2020.

Trujillo's stance on these issues makes him another likely candidate in the upcoming race, but he has not yet announced any plans.

District 3 Councilor Roman "Tiger" Abeyta, District 2 Councilor Carol Romero Wirth, and District 1 Councilor Sig Lindell will also reach the end of their terms this year. Lindell and Romero-Wirth both tell SFR they will respectively announce their re-election intentions in the coming weeks and months.

"I'm very proud of what we've been able to accomplish, particularly in this last unprecedented year. There's much more to do, I'm optimistic about the future and what we can do to continue moving Santa Fe forward," Romero-Wirth said in a statement.

Candidates interested in any of the races will be able to pick up candidate packets  from the city clerk’s office and begin collecting signatures for their nominating petitions starting May 3. The election is in November.

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