Primary Readiness

Six candidates make bids for seats on the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners and others declare intentions to run in June

Local voters will have candidates to choose between in two seats on the Santa Fe Board of County Commissioners and other local races, according to documents filed March 12, the state’s official candidate filing day for June primaries. A number of races feature only Democratic candidates and therefore will be decided then rather than in the November general election.

As Districts 2 and 4 say goodbye to Commissioners Anna Hansen and Anna Hamilton, who both reach their two-term limit this year, six candidates set their sights on filling the seats—three in District 2 and three in District 4, respectively.

In District 2, which covers the Agua Fría village and a slice of Las Campanas, attorney Scott Fuqua faces off against educator and community activist Lisa Cacari Stone and former county assessor Benito Martinez, Jr.

Though he’s now a sole practitioner, Fuqua worked at the state Attorney General’s Office for seven years—a portion of which he spent as the director of the Litigation Division. He tells SFR his bid for the county job centers on providing “good stewardship of our limited and precious resources. In particular, water,” as well as land use.

“Those two issues often go hand in hand. It’s a growing city and a growing county, and we need to make sure that we grow as responsibly as we possibly can,” Fuqua says, “because the limitation on those natural resources provides a real limitation on how quickly and ultimately the extent to which it can grow.”

In 2020, Fuqua lost his bid for First Judicial District Attorney, snagging 35% of the vote. He says the “unusual” campaign left him with lessons that “maybe are no longer terribly helpful.”

“We were campaigning with COVID and the restrictions that it imposed. So for example, I didn’t walk into neighborhoods and knock on any doors,” Fuqua says. “I guess the takeaway for me was do whatever it is that I can do to connect with voters and hear what they have to say and let them know that I want to hear what they have to say…I just don’t think there’s a substitute for making that sort of personal connection.”

On the other hand, Cacari Stone—whose name represents both her Mexican and English/Irish backgrounds—tells SFR she’s been preparing her whole life for this run through her work as a professor and as a consultant and analyst.

“I’m ready to run and I think more women and Latinos, especially those of us who represent the people who don’t really come from political factions, or long history of politicians in our families, are the people whose voice needs to be represented,” she says. “Sometimes you have to keep steering the ship towards change and justice.”

Her campaign will focus on affordable housing and infrastructure, she says.

“Having access to affordable rent and a place to live is the road to upward mobility for many of our communities…So the issue is important to everyone,” Cacari Stone says. “When I talk about infrastructure, it’s around road safety infrastructure and having a responsive emergency system that includes water and clean water.”

Another large infrastructure issue, she adds, is “the digital divide,” or lack of internet access for many New Mexicans.

“We need to have internet access for all communities. This is critical for our families and individuals, and we take it for granted thinking we’re in an urban or metro area,” Cacari Stone says, “but not everyone has access to the internet, and that’s access to resources people need to live a healthy life.”

District 4, which covers most of east side Santa Fe all the way to Glorieta, will choose between Old Santa Fe Association Executive Director Adam Fulton Johnson; businesswoman Mika Old; and business owner and former teacher Stephen Chiulli, who all filed as candidates. Fulton Johnson tells SFR a “need for strong leadership in the county” prompted his bid.

“I have proven myself as a leader on issues, legislative issues, quality of life issues, [and] community advocacy issues,” he says, “and so I know that I can expand my focus on cultural heritage preservation by not just working on issues related to that but to environmental stewardship, water sustainability, wildfire prevention, and also continuing my work in affordable housing.”

Fulton Johnson says his experience has earned him “a diverse network of elected officials and staffers across the county” and makes him “the most qualified candidate for this office.”

“I have experience in the legislative realm and quality of life issues around Santa Fe,” he says.

Old, a third generation Santa Fean, also plans to focus on affordable housing, land use and wildfires. She says her roots in District 4 will help her execute her vision.

“I’ve got a lot of connections in the city and state, and especially in our county, with people who were doing a lot of the construction, were taking care of the environmental zoning, and making sure that we’re doing things appropriately for the area,” Old says. “So my connection is there, and we’re going to be very, very helpful.”

She tells SFR that at age 32, she’s “excited about representing the younger generation of Santa Feans” and bringing a new perspective to the Santa Fe County Commission.

“I love Santa Fe…and I want Santa Fe to be a really sustainable place for future generations who can live here and who can work here,” Old says. “I think we’ve got great potential.”

Stephen Chiulli, who did not return SFR’s request for an interview before the original publication of this story, subsequently spoke to SFR about his campaign. A New York native and 20-year resident of Santa Fe, Chiulli tells SFR his key issues include crime; homelessness; affordable housing and environmental issues, such as fire prevention and water conservation. His proposal for affordable housing specifically focuses on building 1000 single-family homes and townhomes on the Midtown campus for educators; first responders; medical professionals; and city and county workers.

“We need those people living in the communities in which they serve,” Chiulli says. “The communities are much better off when we have those folks living here.”

The candidate spent most of his career in construction before his bid for the Board of County Commissioners seat, where he gained a reputation for his quick service.

“I have always been a person who believes in getting things done, and when I was in construction, that’s one of the reasons why people liked me,” Chiulli says. “It was my ability to do work with integrity and getting the job done in a timely manner correctly, so it’s always been my belief.”

Also on the ballot, incumbent Commissioner Hank Hughes will run uncontested for his District 5 seat.

County Clerk Katharine Clark seeks a second term, but she faces a challenge in the Democratic primary from former Clerk Geraldine Salazar.

Looking more widely, First Judicial District Attorney Mary Carmack-Altwies seeks a second term for the prosecutor job that includes Santa Fe, Rio Arriba and Los Alamos counties. Former DA Marco Serna, who served one term then ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2020, also seeks the seat.

Several state Senate and House seats that represent portions of Santa Fe are also on the ballot, notably Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, who announced near the end of this year’s legislative session that she will not seek re-election in District 24. Hansen; Indigenous advocate Veronica Ray Krupnick; and Linda Trujillo, a former legislator and director of the Regulation and Licensing Department—all Democrats—will compete for the post.

Reps. Linda Serrato, Andrea Romero, Reena Szczepanski, Tara Lujan and Matthew McQueen are all seeking re-election, along with Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth. McQueen faces two challengers: Edgewood Mayor Kenneth Donald Brennan and Wendy Ann Lossing. The remaining races are uncontested.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on March 18 to include comments from District 4 candidate Stephen Chiulli.

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