Morning Word

Santa Fe Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Housing Tax

Newcomer Castro wins four-way District 1 race

Santa Fe voters approve “mansion tax”

City of Santa Fe voters in yesterday’s local election decisively approved a 3% excise tax paid by buyers purchasing homes that cost more than $1 million. The tax, which will be applied to the portion of the sale over the first $1 million, will benefit the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. As of press time, unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s website show 73% of city voters backed the measure. “I was thinking we may get 60% and that would be good,” Homewise CEO Mike Loftin told SFR last night as votes were being tallied. “But we’re up to over 70%, and that’s great!” Most voters throughout the day told SFR they had supported the tax on their ballots. “Local people are being priced out of the market,” District 2 Santa Fe native Sylvia Chavez said. “Everybody can come in from somewhere else and spend millions of dollars on a home and then people who live here can’t afford a house. It’s not right.” The Santa Fe Association of Realtors, which has a pending legal challenge to the excise tax, waged a campaign against it comparable to one in the 2009 election, when voters rejected the measure. The so-called “mansion tax” comes amidst a growing housing crisis in Santa Fe, and may have driven high turnout—nearly 31% countywide, surpassing turnout during the 2021 mayor’s race of 24% participation. Santa Fe voters yesterday also approved several amendments to the city’s charter.

Newcomer Castro wins four-way District 1 race

Restaurant owner and labor organizer Alma Castro emerged the winner from a field of four in District 1 yesterday, the only race in which Ranked Choice Voting was employed. Castro won in the third round with 52.36% of the vote versus former City Attorney Geno Zamora’s 47.64%. “I’m still sort of in shock,” Castro told SFR shortly after midnight. “I am blessed to have come home to such a wonderful group of people that has supported me in so many ways.” Castro succeeds outgoing District 1 Councilor Renee Villarreal, who did not seek reelection and who endorsed Castro’s campaign. Planning Commissioner Pilar Faulkner also will join the City Council, replacing Chris Rivera in District 3, who did not seek reelection. Faulkner bested Louis Carlos with 56% of the vote. “I feel humbled by my community that they chose to lean into issues and not negativity,” Faulkner said. “That really tells me that my district is invested truly in moving forward and not looking backwards. I hope and I pray that I can literally serve them in the manner that they deserve to be served.” Incumbents Mike Garcia in District 2 and Jamie Cassutt in District 4 held onto their seats, winning by 54% and 69%, respectively. In the Santa Fe Public Schools Board of Education three-way race for District 2, incumbent Sarah Boses beat back two challengers with 71% of the vote. STEM Santa Fe founder Lina Germann won with 70% of the vote against opponent Lorenzo Dominguez in the Santa Fe Community College Board race. Voters also approved all the bond and mill-levy questions for SFPS and SFCC.

Jury finds teen guilty in Ragle Park murder

Following a three-day trial in the First Judicial District, a jury yesterday found Judah Trujillo, 17, guilty of murder in the first degree and evidence tampering. Trujillo, who was 15 at the time of the murder of 60-year-old Samuel Cordero, stood behind a table in the court room and had no visible reaction to the verdict. He had testified the day prior on his own behalf, saying he killed Cordero, whom he met on the Grindr app, out of self-defense after he changed his mind about having a sexual encounter and grew afraid of Cordero’s response. Prosecutors argued Trujillo arranged the meeting and took a gun with him with intent, ultimately shooting Cordero in the back of the head. Prosecutors charged Trujillo as a “serious youthful offender,” which means he could be sentenced to adult prison time, but the judge will have some discretion in sentencing guidelines for a first-degree guilty verdict that otherwise call for 30 years to life. Judge Mary Marlowe-Sommer scheduled a sentencing hearing for Jan. 8. The evidence tampering charge carries a sentence of up to three years. “Today, Samuel Cordero and his family have been given justice,” a statement from the First Judicial District Attorney’s Office reads. The DA also acknowledged Santa Fe Police Detective Rebecca Hildebrandt and other investigators who connected Trujillo to Cordero’s murder by using cellphone data that placed both parties at the crime scene.

Cannabis CEO wants protection for medical patients

Citing the ongoing and steep decline of medical cannabis patients in New Mexico, Ultra Health CEO and President Duke Rodriguez in a news release this week called upon the state to provide greater protection for medical cannabis patients. The company attributes declining enrollment to high prices and lack of available medicine, which it says is “pushing patients out of the existing medical model into the illicit market.” As SFR reported in May, state officials had initially anticipated the number of medical cannabis patients would fall upon adult recreation legalization last year and then rebound, but the rebound did not occur. “When one-third of what was once a robust participation in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program vanishes, this should be considered an utter failure,” UltraHealth CEO and President Duke Rodriguez says in a statement. DOH Public Information Officer David Morgan tells SFR via email the department acknowledges the accuracy of Ultra Health’s figures and reiterates DOH “anticipated a reduction in patients when adult use was legalized and has been publicly transparent with that assessment.” The program, he writes, “exists to assist patients who use cannabis for medicinal purposes. Medicinal use of the product they receive is untaxed because it is used in the patients’ care as medicine and not recreational use.” Andrea Brown, public relations and marketing specialist for the state Regulation and Licensing Department, which oversees the state’s Cannabis Control Division tells SFR in a statement CCD “does not have any data to support the claims that enrolled medical patients have faced any shortage of cannabis products for the medical market or that those patients are turning to the illicit market. Additionally, the CCD is continuing its efforts to combat and eliminate the illicit cannabis market from New Mexico.”

Listen up

On the most recent episode of sexual-violence-prevention podcast Both/And, host and New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs Director of Sexual Violence Prevention Jess Clark talks with Indi McCasey, a “facilitator and community catalyst,” who has worked on numerous projects that operate “at the intersection of arts, education and community health” through collaborations with nonprofit organizations and school districts in Boston, Santa Fe and the San Francisco Bay Area. McCasey also is a faculty member of Alameda County Office of Education’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program and Harvard’s Project Zero Classroom. Both/And is a project of the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs.

Emily Fisher Landau auction begins

The highly anticipated art auction of New York philanthropist Emily Fisher Landau begins tonight at Sotheby’s with an evening auction, followed by a day auction tomorrow. Landau, who died at the age of 102 last March, also played significant roles in Santa Fe’s art scene, serving on both SITE Santa Fe and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum’s boards. Georgia O’Keeffe Museum Director Cody Hartley, in a statement provided to SFR following Landau’s death, described her as “a friend and advocate of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum from our founding.” Landau also previously owned the 3,250-acre Saddleback Ranch in Santa Fe, a portion of which the Modern Elder Academy purchased in 2021. Harper’s Bazaar magazine takes a look at Landau’s life and legacy in advance of the auction, and speaks with her daughter Candia Fisher Landau about her mother’s passion for art and supporting artists. “The artists she knew in the 60s, 70s and 80s were like rock stars to her,” Candia tells Harper’s. “She would get giddy like a kid going to a Taylor Swift concert at the thought of them. When she got to meet them it was a big deal—and she met so many: Mark Roscoe, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin and so many others.” ArtNet highlights one of the two O’Keeffe paintings in the auction in its preview of its “five standouts.” The 1925 Pink Tulip (Abstraction – #77 Tulip) has an estimated value of $3 to $5 million and was acquired by Landau directly from O’Keeffe in 1985. “O’Keeffe’s flowers remain her most highly sought after and influential paintings more than a century later, further underscoring her ingenuity and impact on the trajectory of 20th century art,” the auction catalog says. It was also part of the O’Keeffe Museum’s inaugural show in 1997. The auction’s leading item, a Pablo Picasso painting, is estimated to sell “in excess of $120 million.”

A café for healing

The Huffington Post showcases an essay written by artist, chef and dancer Carpio Joseph Bernal (Taos Pueblo) in its Voices in Food series. Bernal returned to Taos Pueblo after his 33-year-old sister Coral’s unexpected death during the COVID-19 pandemic, and opened the Dawn Butterfly Cafe “as a space not only to serve food and drinks, but to have conversations about the challenges faced by Native Americans, and to raise money for an art center.” In his own words, Bernal tells the story of the terrible loss of his sister, and his decision to open the cafe in her memory “because she and I always talked about opening a coffee shop in the pueblo someday.” The proceeds will be used to start the Coral Dawn and Paul J. Bernal Center for Arts and Literature “named for her and for our grandfather,” Bernal writes, and to “serve as a center for healing through artistic expression.” Cafés, he notes “are designed to be social hubs where people come together and have conversations. Taos Pueblo is an international hot spot, so it’s natural that you will meet visitors from all over the world. My family and some other residents of the pueblo are happy to talk to visitors and share our stories. It’s a way for us to heal from our grief and loss, and promote the tribal voices that have been suppressed for centuries.”

Wild is the wind

The National Weather Service forecasts cooler and windier conditions today, with sunny skies; a high temperature near 58 degrees; west wind 10 to 15 mph; and gusts as high as 30 mph. Looks like the wind should die down by tomorrow; until then, a little David Bowie seems in order.

Thanks for reading! The Word has longed dreamt of ocean views; this New Yorker story on seawalls has her revising her (patently unrealistic) fantasies.

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