Morning Word

Thousands of Santa Fe Voters Cast Ballots Over Weekend as Nov. 8 Election Heats Up

State unveils plans for tutoring program as national data shows losses in reading, math

Thousands turn out in Santa Fe for expanded early voting

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark reported (well, tweeted) 2,082 Santa Fe County voters turned out on Saturday for the first day of expanded early voting for the Nov. 8 general election. According to the clerk’s “real-time turnout tracking tool,” 8,389 early and absentee ballots have been cast so far—approximately 7.5% of the county’s total number of registered voters, based on September registration data (Here’s a list of all Santa Fe County early voting and election-day polling sites). The Santa Fe County Clerk’s office is also seeking feedback on residents’ voting experiences; take a short poll here. A statewide update on voting is expected from the Secretary of State’s Office later this morning but, as of Friday, approximately 54,000 people had voted—almost 57% of whom were registered Democrats; 32.4% Republicans; and close to 10% without party affiliation. Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports confidence over elections in Torrance County—one of several small New Mexico counties whose certification of last June’s primary election results were nearly derailed by concerns over conspiracy theories—remains fraught. Republican county commissioners in Torrance, the AP reports, have taken several additional measures “in an attempt to restore trust in voting and ballot counting.” Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Elections Director Mandy Vigil and an unnamed Dominion Voting Systems employee last week held a news conference also aimed at providing reassurances about voting security. Speaking of fraught, New York Times columnist Gail Collins opined recently over political hypocrisy in the national abortion debate, citing New Mexico Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti as a prime example. The Albuquerque Journal over the weekend unsurprisingly endorsed Ronchetti over incumbent Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in that race and—predictability notwithstanding—caused a bit of an uproar on the interwebs.

Enviro groups plan to sue over illegal grazing in Valles Caldera

Several conservation organizations have filed a notice of intent to sue the National Park Service over Endangered Species Act violations related to illegal livestock grazing in the Valles Caldera National Preserve in the Jemez Mountains. WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project and Caldera Action say NPS has failed to address cattle illegally entering the preserve from nearby Forest Service grazing allotments, which has damaged streams, riparian areas and wildlife habitat. In a statement, Caldera Action Executive Director Tom Ribe said advocates worked for years to “get the Valles Caldera into the National Park System because the Park Service has the highest standards of land protection of any federal agency. We trusted they would protect the Caldera from all sorts of possible damage.” But despite closing most of the preserve to cattle gazing, he says, the park service “looked the other way while cows flooded in across vandalized and damaged fences. We have no idea why the management doesn’t respond to this blatant trespass.” A news release from the organizations say both NPS and the US Forest Service have documented livestock entering the preserve since at least 2017. “Livestock trampling riparian areas of these protected lands has gone on far too long with federal land managers doing too little to stop it,” Cyndi Tuell, Arizona and New Mexico director of Western Watersheds Project, said in a statement. “It’s frustrating that the Park Service is breaking its promise to New Mexicans to protect the natural resources in Valles Caldera and has let this situation fester for more than five years.”

Gov, PED preview increased tutoring efforts

On Friday, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus announced a forthcoming request for proposals for the “targeted expansion of high-quality tutoring” for students across the state. According to a news release from the governor’s office, “the tutoring program will focus on mathematics, language arts and science for New Mexico students from kindergarten through 8th grade at priority schools throughout the state. “We know that tutoring can help close gaps for our students who are struggling to master concepts in classrooms alone,” Steinhaus said in a statement. “This investment in customized support will serve our students efficiently and with immediacy.” The governor, who volunteered as a substitute teacher at Salazar Elementary at the start of the year, discussed the forthcoming emphasis on tutoring with SFR during an interview earlier this month and mentioned (in an unpublished excerpt) her willingness to tutor as well: “I’m a very effective math teacher, particularly for grade school,” she told SFR. “I can be available on weekends and mornings and evenings and I can do it in person.” The state also plans to launch in January 2023 a New Mexico Math Tutoring Corps for Algebra 1 students. The new initiatives come as National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka the nation’s report card, releases its first results since the pandemic, which showed a decline in math and reading schools for fourth and eighth graders in most states, including New Mexico.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Oct. 21: New cases: 439; 624,419 total cases; Deaths: nine; Santa Fe County has had 357 total deaths; there have been 8,620 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 115. Patients on ventilators: three. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Oct. 20 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, downgraded seven New Mexico counties to “yellow,” or medium risk levels, mostly in the northeast region of the state (Union, Harding, Mora, San Miguel, Guadalupe and De Baca counties), as well as McKinley County in the northwest. The rest of New Mexico’s counties continue to have green, aka low, levels. Corresponding recommendations for each level can be found here.

Resources: CDC interactive booster eligibility tool; NM DOH vaccine & booster registration; CDC isolation and exposure interactive tool; Curative testing sites; COVID-19 treatment info; NMDOH immunocompromised tool kit. 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

Saveur magazine launches its new podcast, Place Settings, with an episode about Northern New Mexico Chef Johnny Ortiz-Concha. Ortiz-Concha learned his love of “wild food” on the Taos Pueblo, where he was raised, and the place to which he returned after stints working in kitchens across the country. Once home, Ortiz-Concha founded the Shed project, which is both a dinner series based on local food sources, as well as “a larger investigation into connecting how we live, what we eat, and where we’re from.”

Dwell on it

The former owner of one of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s only adobe-design homes—located in Santa Fe—had 27 dogs and apparently didn’t clean up after them much. So says current owner Richard Poe, who encountered the mess in 2016 and instead saw an opportunity. Poe talks with Dwell magazine about his quest to renovate the home, about which he says: “I took one step past the front door and knew it was the home I wanted to own and the project that I wanted to tackle.” Wright apparently designed the home in 1943 (it was initially intended to be built in El Paso), but it wasn’t built until 1984 when developer Charles Klotsche took it on (here’s the back story and here’s a video from when it was on the market in 2012). The restoration—which Poe undertook with El Paso-based In*Situ Architecture, took longer than expected and ran into challenges with pandemic-construction; historic design review standards; and contractors who didn’t want to touch the job. Dwell has plenty of “after” photos, including the new detachable pergolas that “provide shade from harsh afternoon sun without impinging upon the house itself.”

Summer ghost stories

Just in time for Winter Indian Market comes a look back at summer Indian Market via a new story by Simon Moya-Smith for Lonely Planet’s “Perspectives” series (Moya-Smith profiled Diné actor and entrepreneur Jeremiah Bitsui for SFR last summer). In “The Ghosts of Cowboys Past,” Moya-Smith describes his encounter last August in Santa Fe as the town filled with both Native American artists and non-Indigenous shoppers and lookie-loos. Moya-Smith (Oglala/Chicano) writes in his notebook at the time: “There’s no real way to express it—what it’s like to be a fetish in a room loaded with those who have a fetish for you. They want to touch your hair. Your face. Your feet.” As Moya-Smith sits writing in the lounge of the St. Francis Hotel, “a massive white man with a handlebar mustache and a cowboy hat waltzed into the room like it was a saloon in the year 1888.” He sees the man again and entices him to have a drink at Evangelo’s where he asks him, point blank: “Wouldn’t you say it’s a little out of taste to dress like the oppressor at an event held by the people the cowboys oppressed?” We won’t spoil the ending.


The week begins with a preview of winter, as the National Weather Service forecasts a slight chance of snow showers before 9 am, followed by a chance of rain and snow showers between 9 am and noon, turning to rain showers thereafter. The overall chance for precipitation today is 30% with the possibility of accompanying thunder. Otherwise, skies will be partly sunny and the high temperature will be around 47 degrees with northwest wind 5 to 10 mph increasing to 15 to 20 mph in the morning. Winds could gust as high as 30 mph.

Thanks for reading! The Word is awed by the winners of the Nature Conservancy’s 2022 photo contest.

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