Morning Word

State Certifies NM General Election Results

AG Hector Balderas sues tobacco companies

NM certifies general election

New Mexico’s Nov. 8 general election (mostly) came to a close yesterday (knock wood), as the state canvassing board met and certified the results. All told, 714,754 ballots were cast, a turnout rate of 52.4%—just slightly under the 55.61% in the 2018 general election, but with a higher number of ballots cast. The canvassing board, which includes Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and state Supreme Court Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon, unanimously certified the results and ordered automatic recounts in State House Districts 32 and 68 (the Albuquerque Journal has details on the recounts in those districts, which include the regions of Deming and Albuquerque, respectively; state law requires recounts for elections in which the winning candidate’s margin is less than one percentage point). The board will meet again on Dec. 13 to certify the results of the automatic recounts. The state canvassing follows county-level canvassing and certification by all 33 counties. “The canvass process at each level checks every tabulator tape, every provisional and hand tally ballot to ensure that the results are accurate,” Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark said in a news release yesterday about the state canvassing. “This election, we were able to include several rejected ballots that voters were able to cure after we contacted them as well as 17 provisional ballots.” An independent audit by the Santa Fe-based CPA firm Zlotnick & Sandoval found no discrepancies, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Yesterday’s certification marks the end of an election season in which officials were poised for potential disruptions, with Toulouse Oliver reporting ongoing threats to her and her staff in the aftermath of the 2020 election and voting-related conspiracy theories. The election also marked the implementation of new geographic boundaries following redistricting; the state Republican Party has filed a lawsuit accusing the Legislature of political gerrymandering, oral arguments for which the state Supreme Court will hear in January.

Vroom, vroom

A proposal to increase fines to address loud vehicles in Santa Fe remains in the offing, with city councilors set to consider a proposal next month. The city’s traffic laws already require vehicles to have functioning mufflers that prevent “excessive or unusual noise,” and ban muffler bypasses, cutouts and similar devices, but only fines violators at $25. City Councilors Signe Lindell and Amanda Chavez, along with Mayor Alan Webber, are proposing to raise the minimum first offense fine to $250, with $500 for subsequent offenses—penalties in line with Albuquerque’s fee structure. Public will appears to support the measure—a circulating petition to cut down on muffler noise has garnered more than 1,400 signatures. Some councilors, however, have expressed concern that the ordinance targets one particular demographic: youth. According to a presentation on the proposal, people between the ages of 15 and 31 received 87.5% of the tickets issued between 2015 and 2022. “I have a hard time with anything that targets a group like that,” says District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera, who voted against the proposal in the Public Works and Utilities Committee earlier this month and against it again in the Finance Committee on Monday night, along with Councilor Renee Villarreal of District 1.

AG sues tobacco companies

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas announced yesterday he is suing Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds and other tobacco companies for breach of contract; defrauding New Mexico taxpayers; and conspiracy. The complaint, filed in the First Judicial District Court, alleges the tobacco companies have withheld a portion of their annual payments to New Mexico in bad faith and in breach of the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). “There is no end to these baseless delay tactics, and it is time to force the tobacco companies to pay New Mexico what they owe for damages–funding much-needed health initiatives,” Balderas said in a statement. According to the AG’s office, the MSA requires each company to make annual payments to New Mexico each year. However, the state says the companies “dispute New Mexico’s diligent enforcement of its laws every year, requiring New Mexico to go to arbitration to recover each year’s withheld payment,” a process that takes years. For instance, 2004 arbitration was just settled last month. The state’s average annual MSA payment lands between $30 and $40 million, with the state’s health care costs directly attributable to smoking at more than $980 million in 2021 alone.

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Nov. 29: New cases: 853; 645,666 total cases. Deaths: DOH says it will update COVID-19 fatalities on Dec. 5; Santa Fe County has had 367 total deaths; 8,702 total fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 240 (a nearly 23% increase from yesterday) Patients on ventilators: nine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent Nov. 24 “community levels” map, which uses a combination of hospital and case rate metrics to calculate COVID-19 risk for the prior seven-day period, shows eight counties categorized as “orange”—high risk—for COVID-19, versus four last week. They are: Los Alamos, Rio Arriba, San Juan, Bernalillo, Sandoval, McKinley, Valencia and Socorro. Santa Fe County, which was “green,” last week—signifying lower risk—is now “yellow,” with medium risk, as are 10 other counties. 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. DOH encourages residents to download the NM Notify app and to report positive COVID-19 home tests on the app.

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

Listen up

For some, this is the most wonderful time of the year. For others, it can be the most stressful. On the most recent episode of To Your Health, a biweekly show from The Life Link and The Legacy at Santa Fe, host and licensed mental health counselor Elizabeth Carovillano talks with artist and art therapist Valerie Valentine about tips for self-care over the holidays, along with the power of art therapy.

Re-building Indigenously

Architectural Digest examines the efforts by Indigenous architects and artists to restore tribal sovereignty, including those by studio:indigenous founder and University of New Mexico Department of Architecture Chair Chris Cornelius (Oneida Nation of Wisconsin). Having grown up in federal housing, Cornelius experienced the lack of Indigenous input for such facilities and the impact that can have on communities. “When we leave out design, we’re leaving out culture and environmental responsibility,” Cornelius tells Architectural Digest. His project, “Not My HUD House,” part of the Architecture at Home exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Arkansas (through Jan. 31, 2023), explores “the features that are staples of indigenous lifestyle that his home failed to include, from a porch and a place for a fire to a view of the sky,” the story notes. Cornelius brought the same approach to his design for the Indian Community School in Franklin, Wisconsin, completed more than 20 years ago. Reclaiming colonized spaces and creating equity requires rejecting monolithic solutions. In the education sector, it has also meant legal remedies, such as those prescribed in New Mexico’s Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit. ACLU of New Mexico Senior Indigenous Justice Attorney Preston Sanchez (Jemez/Laguna Pueblos & Diné), one of the Yazzie lawyers, is now working on The Tribal Remedy Framework. “It’s the community’s response to the failures by the state of New Mexico and the system to educate students adequately while meeting their needs in an equitable manner,” he tells AD.


SFR recently traipsed around town to sample the liquid wares at two new Albuquerque-imports: Vara Vinoteca (329 W San Francisco St.) and Bar Norte (201 Washington Ave.). The former offers not just wine and spirits, but tapas, a wine club and wine education classes. The latter, Los Poblanos’ newest outpost, showcases the farm’s botanical gins in a variety of dangerous (aka delicious) cocktails, and the adjoining farm shop sells just about every lavender product your heart could desire. If fancy cocktails sound good, but you’d prefer them at home, be sure to check out Table magazine’s winter cocktail roundup, which includes recipes for a Clove Old Fashioned; Pear Cider and Gin Bellini; and Bourbon Mint Smash. If you’d like to follow—or accompany—those drinks with actual food, Table also has recipes for the season, including several supplied by Paloma restaurant, such as a guava sorbet from Pastry Chef Jessica Brewer. And since we’re talking food and flavor, Edible New Mexico offers a compelling argument in its winter issue for adding fir needles into your “culinary repertoire,” and provides several recipes to that end: fir-infused sugar, oil and cordial, to be exact.


Could be a cold morning, with wind chill values as low as -2 degrees. Later on, however, the National Weather Service forecasts a mostly sunny day with a high near 46 degrees and north wind around 10 mph becoming south in the afternoon.

Thanks for reading! The Word really enjoyed this NPR story about “late bloomers.” She’s planning a second act as an international spy.

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