Planning Commissioner Phil Lucero announced Wednesday he will challenge City Councilor Michael Garcia to represent District 2 at City Hall.
The Santa Fe native, who works on climate change education for a local nonprofit, underscored several priorities in launching his campaign: environmental sustainability, mental health care, crime and homelessness.
But he tells SFR the “elephant in the room is affordable housing.”
“I’m seeing teachers leave schools they love because they can’t afford to live here,” he says.
Lucero says he wants to see the City Council work more collaboratively to address the issue—”clean up the red tape and the bureaucracy” while ensuring more infill development.
“We need to build a more connected, walkable, bike-able city,” he says.
Lucero’s announcement sets up a competitive race in the Nov. 7 municipal election for the district, which is bounded on the west by Cerrillos Road and Yucca Street and stretches across the southeastern quadrant of the city.
First elected in 2019, Garcia is seeking a second term as one of the two councilors representing District 2 (his seat-mate, Councilor Carol Romero-Wirth, is not up for re-election until 2025).
Unlike Garcia, who is one of several candidates seeking public financing, Lucero will bring private fundraising to the race. He will also bring his own experience with city government.
In addition to serving on the planning commission, Lucero has also served on the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee.
“It’s a place that I love and it’s time for me to do something about it,” Lucero says.
Lucero didn’t criticize Garcia and says his challenge isn’t personal.
Still, Lucero said that he’s impatient about issues he cares most about.
“I do feel like what I bring to the table is an urgency,” he says.