Polls open for general election
After months of an increasingly bitter New Mexico gubernatorial campaign, with the partisan composition of the US Congress hanging in the balance, voters head to the polls today to weigh in on the next few years of leadership in the state and federal governments. Polls remain open until 7 pm across Santa Fe County. Find a list of them here. Following the end of early voting on Saturday, 439,248 New Mexico residents had cast ballots through both in-person and absentee voting—approximately 32% of registered voters. Of those votes already cast, approximately 80% were through early voting; approximately 25,000 absentee ballots that were requested have yet to be cast. In the 2018 midterm election, 442,521 people voted early or absentee in total. In Santa Fe County, 47,709 people have already cast ballots—47% of registered voters. In advance of the election, and in the wake of heightened concerns about voting misinformation, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and Attorney General Hector Balderas recently issued an advisory on poll monitoring and voter intimidation and Toulouse Oliver said her office and law enforcement agencies would be running a “virtual situation room” today to monitor public safety issues. Yesterday, the US Department of Justice announced it would monitor compliance with federal voting rights at 64 locations in the US, including Bernalillo and San Juan counties in New Mexico. DOJ says Civil Rights Division personnel will be available today to receive complaints from the public related to possible violations of the federal voting rights laws via a complaint form on the department’s website or by phone at 800-253-3931. Find SFR’s complete election coverage here and a short version of our ballot recommendations here.
Hobbs commission passes anti-abortion bill
Yesterday, the Hobbs City Commission unanimously passed an ordinance that effectively bans abortion there, despite being legal in the state of New Mexico. Among its other facets, the ordinance calls for US Attorneys “to investigate and prosecute abortion provider and abortion-pill distribution networks” and “encourages all victims of abortion providers and abortion-pill distribution networks, including the mothers, fathers and surviving relatives of aborted unborn children, to sue these racketeering enterprises.” Anti-abortion activists cheered the all-male commission for its vote, describing Hobbs as New Mexico’s “first sanctuary city for the unborn.” In a statement, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the bill, “authored by out-of-state extremists working to further their special interest agenda, is a clear affront to the rights and personal autonomy of every woman in Hobbs and southeastern New Mexico.” Moreover, she said, “We will not stand for it. Reproductive health care is legal and protected in every corner of our state. Providers delivering health care have every right to establish a practice, and all women have the right to access medication abortion services, no matter where in New Mexico they call home.”
More eyes on parks
City of Santa Fe Parks and Open Space Division Director Melissa McDonald hopes to build upon a pilot project to improve safety in public parks by using “rangers” to address security and other issues. The department has a request winding its way toward a City Council vote that would approve a budget adjustment of close to $233,000 to fund a park superintendent and two park ranger positions. “What we have found is that our park ranger is extremely effective in terms of being security in the parks and being ambassadors as well,” McDonald tells SFR. “They are much more community driven. They have a lot more time to investigate and engage with things that are going on in the parks.” Many of the issues in city parks have revolved around encampments, she said, which grew during the COVID-19 pandemic. And, of course, a homicide last summer in Ragle Park highlighted security issues at parks as well. “We feel that having more eyes in the park would be a good thing,” McDonald says. While the program preceded her tenure as director, she notes, “I really liked the concept of just having people in the parks that can answer questions, that can help people, and can help control. It’s just a community model that works really well and works really well in Santa Fe.” If approved, the three personnel would have responsibility for all the parks, with a focus on the larger ones that include gates that require locking. “We feel this is going to be a better route for not all of our security needs, but certainly a portion of our security needs,” McDonald says, “which would just engage our community a little bit more and have a little bit more flexibility to practice improve the parks.”
COVID-19 by the numbers
Reported Nov. 7: New cases: 1,322 (includes the weekend); 631,988 total cases. Deaths: two; Santa Fe County has had 362 total deaths; there have been 8,666 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 140. Patients on ventilators: four. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 3 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, categorizes McKinley County as “red” now (with high risk) and seven New Mexico counties as “yellow,” (medium risk levels, two more than last week): San Juan, Rio Arriba, Taos, San Miguel, Harding, De Baca and Grant. 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.
Metropolitan Museum of Art Associate Curator of Native American Art Patricia Marroquin Norby’s interest in Georgia O’Keeffe began when she visited New Mexico as a graduate student, stepped off the plane and encountered a sign that read “‘Welcome to O’Keeffe Country.” It was one of her first trips to New Mexico, she says, and “I had always understood New Mexico as an Indigenous space. So to have that type of welcoming so public struck me and I began to wonder why New Mexico was being identified with one specific artist and how that impacted local Indigenous communities.” Norby, who is of Purépecha descent, unpacks O’Keeffe’s relationship with New Mexico in a discussion with fellow Indigenous scholar Matthew Martinez, former first lieutenant governor at Ohkay Owingeh and former deputy director at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe.
Conversations with Cormac
Santa Fe Institute President David Krakauer delves into his relationship with author Cormac McCarthy in a new essay for science magazine Nautilus, (Krakauer recently spoke of McCarthy’s relationship with SFI to the New York Times in an story about McCarthy’s new novels). SFI co-founder Nobel laureate Murray Gell-Mann brought McCarthy to SFI, Krakauer writes, and “should be credited as the talent spotter of an author who would come to develop a deep and working admiration for the arcane deliberations of complexity scientists.” Krakauer’s essay certainly provides some insight into McCarthy, who is generally believed to be reclusive and famously does not give interviews: “Cormac is as generous with his time as anyone I have ever met,” Krakauer writes. “But he is very selective. And a sure way to fail the Cormac McCarthy Turing test is to be so imprudent as to ask him about writing and his books. And even worse talk about one’s own writing (the mere hypothetical circumstance makes me shiver). Stick with rigorous ideas, preferably those that take effort to wrangle and several decades to master.” In addition to discussing McCarthy, Krakauer also paints a picture of daily life at SFI, where colleagues enjoy lunch and tea-time conversations: “A typical day might include new results in prebiotic chemistry, the nature of autocatalytic sets, pretopological spaces in RNA chemistry, Maxwell’s demon, Darwin’s sea sickness, the twin prime conjecture, logical depth as a model of evolutionary history, Godel’s dietary habits, the weirdness of Spengler’s Decline of the West, and allometric scaling of the whale brain.”
There’s no place like home
In 2020, Nichol Naranjo bought an Albuquerque home she’d loved for many years, and one her family knew well. In fact, her mother Margaret Gaxiola knew its every nook and cranny as she’d been its housecleaner for 43 years. The New York Times writes of the home and Naranjo’s decision to purchase it as “an unusual yet natural outcome of the closeness that formed between a housekeeper’s family and the former owner of the house,” Pamela Key-Linden, who died in 2018. “I think I always knew I would end up here one day,” Naranjo tells the Times. “It feels right.” When she was growing up, she would sit under a desk in the library “and imagine herself running a business,” while her mother dusted and oiled it above. The house was located in the affluent Ridgecrest neighborhood, while the Gaxiolas lived 20 minutes away in a low-income area. Initial reservations between the women dissolved over the years and they became close as the decades passed. After Key-Linden and then her second husband died and their home came on the market, Naranjo contacted the estate about buying it and all its contents. “When she finally closed on the house and moved in, Ms. Naranjo was overcome by the memories and lengths of her personal journey,” the Times writes. “Her father had painted those walls. Her mother had cleaned those rooms. She herself had emptied the wastebaskets as a little girl.”
The sunny side
A warm and mostly sunny Election Day awaits, according to the National Weather Service, which forecasts a high temperature near 66 degrees and south wind 10 to 15 mph.
Thanks for reading! The Word caught a teensy glimpse of the lunar eclipse this morning, took an unusable photo and then watched the rest of it on the internet.