Change—sometimes dramatic, sometimes routine, from the nation's highest office to the New Mexico roundhouse—characterized most of the top 10 local stories of 1974…Worthy of special note was the appearance of a second full-service newspaper in Santa Fe, the weekly Santa Fe Reporter.
1. Watergate: Year of Decision
Santa Feans joined millions of other US citizens swept into anger or cynicism this year by the Watergate affair. Day after day, almost without exception, the front pages of 1974 newspapers carried references to Richard M Nixon's deepening embroilment in the national scandal that began with a burglary in 1972 of Democratic Party Headquarters in the Washington DC Watergate complex and spread throughout the highest public offices in the nation, finally leading to the disgraced and unprecedented resignation of the president.
2. Police Chief: Firm at the Helm
In March of 1974, the citizens of Santa Fe elected their political leaders. But in September, those leaders filled an appointive slot in city government, which rivaled their own positions in importance for the future conduct of the city's affairs. On Sept. 18 Mayor Joseph Valdes announced his selection of Rudolph Miller to replace the retiring Felix Lujan as chief of the Santa Fe Police Department…
The feeling had long been widespread among city residents that the police department was run primarily according to the political whims of the incumbent administration, rather than the dictates of impartial professionalism. And the department's troubles were hardly eased when Chief Lujan was suspended for five days in January for selling jewelry while on duty, amid thick rumors that he was being investigated by the county grand jury in connection with the ongoing stream of jewelry thefts.
3. Archbishop: Man of the People
A young Spanish-American boy from Socorro is sent to school in Santa Fe, then to seminary in Rome. He returns to his native land as a small-town parish priest, learning, he says, to be one of his own people again. Late in July, 1974, 40 years old, he is ordained the first native Spanish-American archbishop in the United States, replacing retiring prelate James Peter Davis.
He thus becomes the youngest archbishop in the United States, and one of the youngest men ever to be named to that high church post.
A special thanks to our readers for celebrating SFR’s 40th anniversary by reading excerpts of stories that have graced our pages through the years. Nearly a half century later, you can find our list of SFR’s top 10 stories here.