Incumbent Sarah Boses won her second term as the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education’s District 2 representative with 71% of votes, according to unofficial reports from election officials. It was the only contested school board race on the Nov. 7 ballot, but more than 5,400 voters cast ballots in the race.
“I feel really pleased,” Boses says. “The numbers—it’s a great turnout, and that’s the part I’m most pleased about. I love when people get out and vote, and I’m really honored at the opportunity to serve for another term,” she tells SFR. “The high voter turnout really reminded me that the community is excited, they care, they want to be engaged, and so I think we should meet them where they are.”
Opponents Patricia Vigil-Stockton and John T. McKenna received 22% and 6%, respectively.
Boses’ district covers Rancho Viejo, as well as unincorporated communities south of Santa Fe. Schools in the district include Amy Biehl Community School, Eldorado Elementary School, Desert Sage Academy and Capital High School.
An oncology nurse first elected in 2019, Boses originally ran for school board in the wake of proposed school closures, promising voters she would do her part to prevent the district from shuttering small schools. This year, Boses’ campaign touted the board’s recent successes improving conditions for staff, including educator wage increases, adjustments to health insurance premiums and an early childcare center.
“It’s been wonderful to get to meet so many more people, people I didn’t know three months ago—really incredible volunteers that appeared and organized on their own,” she says.”I’ve also, in some of the tough conversations, heard really important things, even from folks who didn’t support me. I need that information, because the fact is that I serve everyone, even if they didn’t vote for me.”
In her upcoming term, Boses says she wants to focus on continuing the district’s reimagining process, which aims to increase student enrollment and engagement in the district.
Former SFPS teacher Gaile Herling was among early voters at the Southside Library. She tells SFR she chose Boses due to her stance against book bans, and says she believes schools should have a diverse range of reading materials in the classroom.
“I believe in free speech; I also believe in books. The library was my sanctuary growing up,” Herling says. “I learned about the world and other cultures, and other kinds of people through books.”
Boses affirmed her position and support for diverse school libraries at a school board candidate forum held last month, where Vigil-Stockton and McKenna backed the idea of reviewing library materials with “controversial” content.
In the Santa Fe Community College Board race, STEM Santa Fe founder Lina Germann won with 70% of the vote against opponent Lorenzo Dominguez, according to unofficial results.
“I’m honored and humbled by the support and the trust of the Santa Fe voters, and I’m excited to get started and really work on bringing some of my ideas to the table,” Germann tells SFR.
She says she learned quickly during the campaign, her first attempt at an elected office. “I decided to run two days before the filing date, so I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it ahead of time.”
Over her six-year term, Germann says she aims to “bring in solutions to increase enrollment, and to bring in more high school students to take classes on campus, as I think that’s a really good way for them to be inspired about their future careers.”
When it came to the ballot questions concerning Santa Fe’s public schools and community college, voters chose a resounding “yes” for the Tax, Levy and Lease; the Public School Improvement Act; and General Obligation Bond questions, all receiving 76%, 77% and 77% approval, respectively.
The Tax, Levy and Lease purchase will impose a property tax of $1.50 per each $1,000 of taxable property each year from 2024 to 2029, and will be used to acquire up to $55 million worth of technology equipment for the schools. This includes network devices, data storage, and digital communications equipment; plus funds for training and technical support.
The Public School Improvement Act tax will remain in place, as it has for a decade. The tax allows the district to use tax revenue over the next six years to pay for repairs, maintenance, playgrounds, fields, landscaping and custodial contracts at all the district’s schools.
The tax requires property owners to pay based on the value of their home and business properties—$2 per each $1,000 of net taxable value each year, a rate that has not increased over the past decade.
The General Obligation Bond’s approval will allow the Santa Fe Community College to issue up to $23 million in general obligation bonds to fund repairs and maintenance at the college. The amount of the college’s debt service won’t change from current levels, and property owners will see a slight decrease in property tax mill rates from 3.501 this year to 3.470.
Bob Courtney, a relative newcomer to New Mexico who voted early at the Santa Fe County Fair Building, tells SFR he was among those who supported all three measures.
“The school taxes in Texas were more than here,” he says. “I’m always for doing whatever we need to do to finance the schools.”