Morning Word

Primary Election Absentee, Limited Early Voting Begins

NM composer Raven Chacon wins Pulitzer Prize

Absentee and limited early voting begins

Absentee voting for the June 7 primary election begins today, as does early voting at the Santa Fe County Clerk’s office (expanded early voting sites open throughout the county on May 21). You can request a mailed absentee ballot through June 2. Here’s a list of all the declared candidates for the primary, but if you want to keep it local, SFR’s endorsements are on the street right now (until tomorrow’s new edition) and online for as long as the electricity holds out. As a reminder, New Mexico remains one of just nine states with a closed primary system—meaning only voters registered with one of the state’s three major parties can vote in the primary—but a new law allows voters who are unaffiliated or registered with a minor party to register on the same day they cast ballots and, if they register as a Democrat, Republican or Libertarian, vote in the primary. Here’s an argument for voting in the primary: For local races, many will be over after the primary. In Santa Fe County, the sheriff, two county commissioners and a magistrate judge seat are all up for grabs with no competition in the general election. In the state Legislature, only District 46 has a contest for Santa Fe voters, with two candidates challenging incumbent Rep. Andrea Romero.

But there will still be some action in the fall. Research & Polling Inc. President Brian Sanderoff tells SFR he expects a lively campaign season. Certainly, the top of the ballot will deliver an engaged contest, as incumbent Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will face an as-of-yet determined GOP challenger. She currently holds a healthy financial advantage, based on yesterday’s campaign finance filings, with $3.7 million in her account; former KRQE weatherman Mark Ronchetti is in the lead among the five GOP candidates with $1.4 million on hand.

Fire managers report injuries, growth

Fire managers last night said they expected the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon Fire to pass 200,000 acres by morning. “We are still in a firefight,” Dave Bales, Southwest Area Incident Management Team commander, said, noting the fire had moved “a long way” yesterday. But fire managers were reporting 43% containment at over 197,000 acres, as fire containment lines withstood winds on the fire’s eastern flank. While thousands of residents from Mora and San Miguel counties remain evacuated from their homes, San Miguel County Sheriff Chris Lopez said yesterday some residents in that eastern edge were allowed to return home. Medical Officer Todd Miranda reported five medical incidents on the line Monday, most minor but one severe injury wherein a person was taken by ambulance to an area hospital. The most recent report says 1,759 personnel are fighting the fire.

The Cerro Pelado Fire in the Jemez mountains had grown to nearly 41,000 acres as of yesterday. According to a Los Alamos National Laboratory news release, “fire officials say the fire continues to burn slowly and low to the ground over the Las Conchas burn scar, and there is no cause for alarm.” Both LANL and Los Alamos County on Sunday moved to the “set” phase of “ready, set, go,” a measure described as “precautionary.” Both LANL and the county implemented maximum telework protocols, while the county has closed nonessential facilities; Los Alamos Public Schools are closed this week out of “an abundance of caution.” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham will deliver a wildland fire briefing at 10 am today, which will stream on her Facebook page.

PED solicits feedback on equity plan

The state Public Education Department yesterday released a draft action plan intended to address systemic inequities identified in the 2018 Yazzie/Martinez v. State of New Mexico lawsuit. Advocates have long awaited the draft plan’s release, which includes measures the state has already taken to address inequities for “at-risk” students identified in the lawsuit. The public will have a little over a month to provide feedback. “Although there is still much to be done, it’s important to recognize how much has already been accomplished to address the lawsuit,” Education Department Secretary Kurt Steinhaus said in a statement. For example, the state has increased educators salaries, and allocated more funding for community schools, the Indian Education Fund and equity councils. Looking forward, PED hopes to form a response team “to provide assistance, oversight and financial review of at-risk programs and related spending.” The final draft plan, the state says, will be used in conjunction with the 2022 Comprehensive Strategic Plan “to guide budgetary and programmatic decision-making with a single-minded focus on one goal: To assure that all students meet their full potential regardless of race, ethnicity, income or background.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported May 9:

New cases: 707 (includes the weekend); 524,644 total cases

Deaths: 12; At last count, Santa Fe County has had 280 total deaths; there have been 7,568 total fatalities statewide. Hospitalizations: 36; Patients on ventilators: four

Transmission: According to the most recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “community levels” tracking system—which uses case rates along with two hospital metrics in combination to determine the state of the virus on a county level—30 of New Mexico’s counties currently have “green”—aka low—levels, whereas Cibola, De Baca and Harding counties are at yellow, or medium. Lea County, which was the only yellow county last week, is now green. The CDC updates its map on Thursdays.

Resources: Vaccine registrationBooster registration Free at-home rapid antigen testsSelf-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

Opera season begins in less than two months (July 1), which gives everyone plenty of time to dig into this season’s offerings. The Santa Fe Opera Guild makes that easy with its virtual lectures and discussions, such as today’s 3 pm Zoom talk on Carmen and its path from novella to opera. Author James Keller, who recently completed his 21st season as program annotator of the San Francisco Symphony, will discuss, among other topics, “how composer Georges Bizet and librettists Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy put together their opera Carmen, drawing principally from Prosper Mérimée’s novella but from other literary and musical sources as well.” Free to Guild members; $10 for everyone else; register here.

NM Indigenous composer wins Pulitzer

Albuquerque-based multidisciplinary artist Raven Chacon (Diné) became the first Native composer to win a Pulitzer Prize yesterday, in the music category, which recognizes a “distinguished musical composition” by an American that premiered last year. Chacon’s piece, “Voiceless Mass,” had its first performance last year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and is described in the awards as “a mesmerizing, original work for organ and ensemble that evokes the weight of history in a church setting, a concentrated and powerful musical expression with a haunting visceral impact.” In a statement on the award, Pulitzer Board member David Remnick says: “Chacon goes deep in his musical thinking, and when he sits down to compose he calls on diverse traditions and modes of musical expression. The result, his ensemble composition, ‘Voiceless Mass,’ is utterly captivating.” The news took Chacon off guard, he tells SFR. “I’m in here, in my studio, and I’m getting texts from people telling me I got this thing, and [the Pulitzer Prize people] haven’t sent me an email or phone call, but that’s cool—I’m just excited they recognized this work, and that my chamber [music] work is acknowledged; that’s only one of the things I do, but it’s the thing I like to think is the main part of my practice.” Chacon’s work also is part of this year’s Whitney Biennial.

Up close with Ali MacGraw

Longtime Tesuque resident and beloved local celebrity Ali MacGraw talks to Closer Weekly about her path to self-acceptance following unhappiness when she was younger (including a stint at the Betty Ford Clinic during which she gave up both men and wine). These days, the 83-year-old rises with the sun, feeds her pets and takes a long walk in Tesuque. Moving to New Mexico, she says, helped her find peace. “I love it because there are grownup women—women who don’t strut around in the latest fashion and aren’t afraid to let their hair go gray,” she says. In addition to her animal welfare work, a friend tells Closer MacGraw spends her time writing, painting, gardening and practicing yoga and meditation. And, while not acting anymore, she did reunite in 2016 with Ryan O’Neal for a touring production of Love Letter. Though out of the limelight, fans recognize her when she travels (we can attest they recognize her here as well). “I have the kindest fans,” MacGraw says. “These are people that seem interested in some of the other experiences of my life that I’ve shared…I’m very grateful.”

Ready to unwind

Today should be sunny with a high near 80 degrees and “breezy,” with a northwest wind 5 to 10 mph becoming southwest 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon. While those wind speeds are an improvement from the last few days, the National Weather Service has red flag conditions developing for the state later today and more hot, windy fire weather tomorrow. But, fingers crossed, the end of the week (at present) appears potentially cooler and less “breezy.” The state also has continued to issue air quality alerts, due to the potential for blowing smoke and dust, although Santa Fe’s particular smoke outlook looks “good,” according to the US Interagency Wildland Fire Air Quality Response Program website.

Thanks for reading! The Word enjoyed every minute of yesterday’s Pulitzer Prize announcements.

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