Morning Word

Santa Fe County Clerk: Don’t Rely on Mail for Absentee Ballots

President Joe Biden returns to NM to rally with Democrats

Santa Fe County Clerk: Don’t mail absentee ballots

With the Nov. 8 general election now less than a week away, don’t put an absentee ballot in the mail, which can take as long as seven days to arrive. “If you still have an absentee ballot in hand,” Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark said in a statement, “you should deliver it to a drop box.” The office has eight permanent drop box locations around town, as well as one inside each open polling site. The eight permanent drop boxes are open 24 hours a day up until 7 pm on Election Day when the polls closed. According to the office, “secure drop boxes are monitored with motion sensitive video cameras and have heat and moisture sensors and door alerts” and are checked at least once every 24 hours by clerk staff. “We’ve also instituted GPS tracking and a chain of custody system for all of our traveling ballots from drop boxes,” Clark says. Voters who requested but have not yet received their absentee ballots should consider going in person and voting early,” she said, while reiterating that even absentee ballots received on Election Day can “and should” be delivered to a drop box before polls close. As of yesterday, about 22% of registered voters—289,468 people—had cast ballots statewide, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, approximately 77% through early voting versus absentee voting. Approximately 60% of the people who have requested absentee ballots thus far have cast them. Registered Democrats have cast approximately 53% of the total ballots so far; Republicans about 34%; Independents 11.7%; and Libertarians and other parties account for the rest. In Santa Fe County, 35,484 people have voted—just over 35% of registered voters. In other election news, President Joe Biden returns to New Mexico today. According to the White House, he will deliver remarks on student debt relief this afternoon at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, and afterward will participate in a rally for the Democratic Party at the Ted M. Gallegos Community Center, also in Albuquerque.

City Council Midtown vote delayed to Nov. 30

Following the City of Santa Fe Planning Commission’s conditional approval last month of the master plan for the Midtown property, a City Council vote originally scheduled for Nov. 9 has been delayed until Nov. 30. Planning commissioners unanimously approved the plan at their Oct 20 meeting, but added a condition of approval that none of the graphics, text or suggestions about off-site property in the master plan materials would be considered official parts of the plan, as well as a condition removing a road that ends at the St. Michael’s West shopping center property line. Those conditions followed objections to the plan from the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education and owners of nearby commercial property. According to a city news release, the City Council on Nov. 9 will instead hear a presentation on the Midtown redevelopment plans, as will the Community Development Commission on Nov. 16. On Nov. 28, the city Finance Committee will discuss the plans and then, on Nov. 30, the City Council will hold a hearing and vote. “We are grateful to the Land Use Department and the Planning Commission for their thorough consideration and valuable input,” Community and Economic Development Director Rich Brown said in a statement. “I’m confident that the Governing Body, which set our community and redevelopment plans into motion with an approved resolution this past spring, will endorse them as well. The excitement is growing as we get moving with the redevelopment of a new city center for Santa Fe.”

Santa Fe startup expands to Australia

Santa Fe death-tech startup Parting Stone is taking its mission to disrupt death care down under. The company, founded by Justin Crowe circa 2018, announced this week it has received a $1 million investment from Australian funeral services company InvoCare, and will partner with InvoCare to launch Parting Stone Australia, headquartered in Newcastle, NSW, in late 2023. Parting Stone takes the full remains of both humans and non-human animals and solidifies them into a form that resembles a collection of smooth stones. “We cannot think of a better partner at this stage in our growth,” Crowe said in a statement. “Working with Invocare’s team to launch Parting Stone Australia will help us design a roadmap for continued international expansion to bring solidified remains to more families around the world.” The venture marks Parting Stone’s first international laboratory and follows a series of investments in the company. In August, the state of New Mexico pledged $150,000 from the Local Economic Development Act, (LEDA). Parting Stone has also won numerous local pitch competitions and received significant private investments. The LEDA funds were geared at growing the company’s staff from 20 to 109 employees. Crowe tells SFR via email this new investment also will be used to hire a marketing director.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 2New cases: 608; 629,318 total cases; Deaths: 0; Santa Fe County has had 359 total deaths; there have been 8,645 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 122. Patients on ventilators: one. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Oct. 27 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, nine New Mexico counties are now “yellow,” aka have medium risk levels (two more than last week): Bernalillo, Sandoval, Valencia, Torrance, Socorro, Cibola, Grant, De Baca and San Juan. 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

While much of the Nov. 8 election chatter has been understandably devoted to candidates, voting matters—from the logistics of how voting machines work to the rights of voters to cast their ballots without interference—have also been a central focus. Today’s 8 am edition of KUNM’s Let’s Talk New Mexico show (online and on 89.9 FM), is all about voters and voting. Guests include University of New Mexico Political Science Associate Professor Loren Collingwood; New Mexico Secretary of State Communications Director Alex Curtas; and Common Cause New Mexico Executive Director Mario Jimenez. Email, tweet or call in with your thoughts to:; #letstalkNM; (505) 277-5866.

Responsible recreation

Outside magazine contributing editor and writer Stephanie Pearson offers her take on the best way to road trip across the Southwest in order to see the region’s “geological wonders, surreal sunsets, and wide-open spaces.” Pearson lived in Santa Fe for 18 years and opines that in order to “benefit from the solace and adventure” of its “majestic landscapes,” we all need to “grapple with how to responsibly recreate within them.” To that end, perhaps ask: WWEAD? (What Would Edward Abbey Do?). Pearson’s road recs begin and end in Tucson, Arizona, and include a 570-mile jaunt from Big Bend National Park in Texas to Taos, with lots of experienced tips for hiking, biking, rafting and otherwise recreating. Pearson also includes guidance on where to stay during the New Mexico leg of the journey (Hotel Luna Mystica and Casa Gallina) and where to eat: The Love Apple; its sister cafe Manzanita Market; and Medley. All the routes include similarly detailed specs for enjoying the adventure, complete with detours. Pearson also is the author of 100 Great American Parks, which published last spring.

No place like foam

“No place like foam” ranked as our favorite comment on the recent Zillow Gone Wild Instagram post for a home listing in Lamy (it also garnered attention from the Apartment Therapy website). The $899,000 home is covered in foam and “disguised to blend in with its surrounding,” Zillow notes. As another comment remarks: “Melted marshmallow on the outside, bougie southwestern Tatooine home on the inside.” In fact, Casa de Roca, as the house is dubbed, “is a complete work of art,” the Zillow listing asserts, and was built by the late Santa Fe jeweler Norah Pearson of The Golden Eye in the early ‘90s. “While the exterior is captivating, the interior is a light-filled jewel box of pleasing architecture, with two mezzanines that have multiple uses including guest quarters; music or yoga spaces; a roomy studio/great room with whitewashed white oak floors; massive kiva; wet bar; and sliding doors to a steel custom pergola-covered terrace.” In addition, “the views from this property are second to none: daytime sunsets and rainbows, massive vistas to the unspoiled Galisteo basin, and nights filled with Milky Way studded dark skies.”

Snow watch

The National Weather Service forecasts a 30% chance for showers today, mainly after noon on an otherwise mostly cloudy day with a high temperature near 54 degrees. Breezy southwest winds of 10 to 15 mph will increase to 20 to 25 mph in the afternoon and could gust as high as 35 mph. We have another chance for rain showers tonight before 9 pm when the likelihood of precipitation rises to 50% and that rain could turn to snow—albeit in small quantities—in the wee hours.

Thanks for reading! The Word is not much of a shopper, but she’s definitely enjoying looking at the catalog for the forthcoming Joan Didion estate sale (and LitHub’s annotated guide to the sale also is entertaining).

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at] Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.