First-time candidates for City Council exchanged ideas about entrepreneurship and youth services in Santa Fe on Thursday, largely sharing common messages for what they see in the city’s future.
Three candidates from District 3 and District 4 participated in the second City Council forum hosted by the Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce at the Southside Library. District 4 incumbent Councilor Jamie Cassutt told SFR she was sorry to miss the event, but could not attend because she was caring for her sick child.
Those seeking the city’s southern-most district seats fielded several questions regarding entrepreneurship in the city. Chamber President David Fresquez asked councilors what they would accomplish in four years to support entrepreneurs, for example. District 3 candidate Pilar Faulkner, whose consulting firm includes government liaison services and who serves on the city Planning Commission, said there are “always opportunities to improve the private-public relationship.”
“Small business owners shouldn’t be paying as many gross receipts tax as they are. We are not business-friendly here. There is a lot of room to move the pieces where you can get small businesses into doing business with the government,” Faulkner said. “We need to change some of the regulations we have on private industry. It’s not conducive to building a good economy.”
Fellow District 3 candidate and private investigator Louis Carlos agreed, saying the city government needs “to streamline for businesses to thrive in this town.” He placed a special emphasis on the city’s youth starting businesses.
“We as a government should be able to help those young aspiring entrepreneurs,” Carlos said. “The next four years I want to look back and say, ‘I helped that business,’ ‘Hey, I helped that kid. Now he owns his own business.’”
District 4 candidate and security professional Joel Nava suggested working with schools and local businesses to create internships so the city’s youth can learn a trade skill.
“We need to start reaching them in high school,” Nava said. “The kids don’t know; they’re not taught anything about business. And for them to have to leave to learn—no, let’s do it here. You don’t have to go to college to be a mechanic.”
Youth support and services also dominated the conversation. Candidates responded to several audience questions, including one on how to support youth suffering from homelessness.
Carlos, who has eight children, recalled the struggles he faced coming to the United States from Mexico at a young age.
“I know plight. We can’t turn a blind eye to it, and we do as a society [and] as a government,” Carlos said. “We forget about our youths, we forget about our children, and we need to stop that. They are our future. I want my future secured.”
Faulkner said she has a youth cabinet helping with her campaign, and noted it was “dumbfounding” how hard it was to get funding for youth projects in Santa Fe.
“Our government says they care a lot about it, but if you look where the money is, it isn’t where you need it to be,” Faulkner said, adding that she began advocating for the city’s new Teen Center more than 15 years ago. “Our kids are the future…Our city will die. It will age out. There’s no renewal in a city that doesn’t value children. Put your money where your mouth is.”
Nava got emotional as he reflected on the children he had “lost to the streets” and to drugs as a coach.
“It takes a community to raise the youth, and we don’t do that anymore,” Nava said. “We need to catch them while they’re young and work with showing them a way [and] not letting them get lost in the cracks like so many have.”
The Hispanic Chamber hosted candidates from Districts 1 and 2 at an earlier event. Read SFR’s coverage here.
Early voting is underway. Click here to find early voting locations and learn more about the local races. Election day is Nov. 7.