In the end, it was about zen.
Or something like it.
The three candidates for Santa Fe mayor spent the final day of a rough and sometimes ugly campaign knocking on doors and making calls, trying to wrap up any remaining loose votes that could be had. But as City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler, Mayor Alan Webber and engineer Alexis Martinez Johnson concluded their efforts Monday, they seemed resigned to a simple fact they’ve known all along.
It’s the voters — not the candidates or their campaigns — who have the final say in an election.
Perhaps that’s why they sounded so tranquil Monday.
“I’m feeling pretty calm,” said Vigil Coppler, who’s been locked in a tough race with Webber and Martinez Johnson through the summer and fall. “I’ve been calm through this whole thing. Just digesting it all in. It’s quite the experience.”
Vigil Coppler spent Monday afternoon with her son, Santa Fe firefighter George Quintana Jr., knocking on some 400 doors in her District 4 neighborhood.
She said she wasn’t sure exactly how Tuesday’s balloting will play out but expressed confidence.
“We’re just taking it a day at a time,” she said. “I realized I can’t control [everything]. I can only control what I am doing and my approach and just being an honest candidate.”
For his part, Webber also expressed confidence as he made campaign phone calls from his south-side campaign headquarters.
“If the people who are already identified as supporters of mine turn out to vote, I expect to win the election,” he said.
He added his staff has worked hard to identify those voters, some of whom had already pledged their vote to Webber. In the campaign office, two large, filled-in drawings of chile peppers hang from a wall, each representing 1,000 city voters.
“Elections belong to people who vote,” he said.
Martinez Johnson used the day before the election to wrap up administrative tasks for her campaign, including submitting her final finance report. She also planned to send out thank-you cards to donors and volunteers, plus print out last-minute signage for supporters.
Though she arguably has the steepest climb of the candidates, Martinez Johnson said she “felt good” about her prospects.
“My hope is that the results bring unity to Santa Fe and that we can move away from the politicization of the issues,” she said.
The race has bounced between past, present and future, with difficult questions about issues like affordable housing and quality of life taking center stage at times. But cultural issues — stemming from the shocking destruction of the Plaza obelisk in 2020 — have loomed throughout and, at times, put Webber on the defensive.
The coronavirus pandemic has also played a significant role. Vigil Coppler has had to defend herself against a no vote on a city mask requirement as the pandemic raged, while Martinez Johnson was cited in July 2020 while running for the U.S. House of Representatives for refusing to wear a mask on the Plaza.
The mayoral campaign will shape local politics, but it is far from the only race on the ballot. A bond and mill levy for Santa Fe Public Schools, two uncontested school board races and races throughout Santa Fe County also will be decided.
In the city of Santa Fe, voters also will see three contested City Council races on the ballot.
In District 1, City Councilor Signe Lindell is attempting to fend off three challengers — retired businessman Joe Hoback, Realtor Roger Carson and Planning Commissioner Brian Gutierrez.
In District 3, incumbent Roman “Tiger” Abeyta is taking on planning commissioner and local businessmanLee Garcia, while Santa Fe Public Schools administrator Amanda Chavez faces management analyst Rebecca Romero in a District 4 seat that will be vacated by Vigil Coppler. Romero recently acknowledged she had a slew of felony charges on her record under a different name.
Incumbent Carol Romero-Wirth is running unopposed in District 2.