Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber deserves the Tail-gunner Joe McCarthy demerit for his performance over the weekend.

McCarthy was a Republican U.S. senator from Wisconsin who claimed communists had infiltrated America’s military and intelligence agencies. Why, hundreds of known communists were at work in the State Department, McCarthy claimed.

Webber took a similar approach with his shrill statement: “MAGA and QAnon are real in Santa Fe, and they will stop at nothing to take over the Mayor’s office,” he wrote in a campaign email.

It’s one of the more inaccurate statements in the long, polluted history of demagoguery.

Webber’s evidence is nonexistent that radical and dangerous right-wingers can somehow grab control of liberal Santa Fe. His claims would sound like a joke if he weren’t using them as an insidious campaign tactic.

The mayor likes to play the martyr. He’s not especially good at it, but it’s an attempt to divert attention from the main issue in the election, which has nothing to do with QAnon or former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again supporters.

Webber and every other mayor have the same job description. They are supposed to deliver basic services efficiently.

Voters will judge Webber on that basis. Police conduct and response times, fiscal responsibility, and the condition of city streets, parks and the golf course are among the particulars that will determine whether voters return him to office for a second term.

Another truth about the November election is already apparent: A Democrat will continue to be mayor of Santa Fe.

Either City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler or Webber will win the nonpartisan election.

Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson will finish third. To be sure, many earnest and law-abiding supporters of Trump will vote for Martinez Johnson. Good for them. Every qualified voter gets to cast a ballot. That’s what happens in a democracy.

At first glance, Martinez Johnson’s presence in the election looks like it should help Webber. Voters dissatisfied with the mayor’s job performance might split enough votes between the two challengers to weaken Vigil Coppler.



But if the race between Vigil Coppler and Webber is tight, Republican voters might swing it to Vigil Coppler by making her their second choice for mayor.

Under Santa Fe’s weird system of ranked-choice voting, a second-place vote comes into play if no candidate breaks 50 percent in the initial count.

Most people in Santa Fe won’t subscribe to Webber’s claims that wacko right-wingers are trying by any means necessary to take over the mayor’s office. They know it can’t happen.

Webber’s claim accompanies his many complaints about dirty politicking, though he can’t pin them on Vigil Coppler or Martinez Johnson.

“We’ve seen the Trumpian MAGA conspiracy theorists promote videos that paint me as a Marxist hell-bent on destroying our community, the antisemitic cartoon depicting me with the bigoted trope of an enlarged nose, and the purported non-profits run by Trump supporters who are illegally electioneering with a QAnon sympathizer for a publicist,” Webber wrote.

Santa Fe County Clerk Katharine Clark and her staff will run a free, fair and accurate election. Beyond that, Webber’s gripes about his critics won’t change a fundamental truth about Santa Fe’s electorate.

Most Republicans and many Democrats won’t vote for Webber, but in almost every instance, their decision will have nothing to do with his being Jewish. Likewise, most who won’t vote for Vigil Coppler won’t reject her because she’s Hispanic.

The key to victory — or defeat — is how Webber has done in administering city services. Or put another way, would Vigil Coppler be better at running the city? The job on most days is no more glamorous than sweeping the streets after the Zozobra celebration.

Gender might be more of a factor in the election than ethnicity. Santa Fe has only had one female mayor, Debbie Jaramillo, who served a single term that ended in 1998. Many voters might be willing to interrupt the long male dominance of the mayor’s office. But that, too, depends on their confidence in Vigil Coppler.

Webber won in 2018 partly because he was the only one of the five mayoral candidates who had not worked at city hall. Being an outsider was an enormous advantage.

He has a record to run on this time. He’ll have to defend it. That is harder than reciting a fairy tale about MAGA and QAnon being credible threats to control the mayor’s office.

Vigil Coppler is the only one who can end Webber’s political career, and she’s not someone the QAnon crowd would care for.

Ringside Seat is an opinion column about people, politics and news. Contact Milan Simonich at msimonich@sfnmexican.com or 505-986-3080.

(68) comments

Mike Johnson

I think ranked choice voting is ridiculous. I have a very hard time finding even one person I would want for each office, there is no way I would want to pick 2 or more in any rank order. Many people also vote against candidates, so this makes it a bit easier I guess. But for most elections, if I had to do this it would be for only 1 candidate at most.

Joe Brownrigg

I do NOT think rank choice is ridiculous.

However, it DOES allow you to vote for just ONE candidate, if you truly wish. There. Problem solved!!!

Bob Res

Whatever happened to “one person, one vote”?

There are many examples of the shortcomings of ranked voting, beginning with the loss of the concept of “one person, one vote”. The second general weakness is that it disenfranchises voters as ballots that do not include the two ultimate finalists are cast aside to manufacture a majority for the winner, but only a majority of the voters remaining in the final round (not of all of the voters who actually cast votes in the elections.).

Other specific examples include....

“A study published in 2015 that reviewed 600,000 votes cast using ranked choice voting in four local elections in Washington State and California found that “the winner in all four elections receive[d] less than a majority of the total votes cast.”

“Another example of this problem is demonstrated by what happened in Australia (which uses ranked choice voting) in the 2010 election. The liberal Labor Party won the Australian House despite receiving only “38 percent of first-place votes on the initial ballot, while the second-place Liberal-National coalition [the center right choice] captured 43 percent” of first-place votes.5

Waxman, “Ranked-Choice Voting Is Not the Solution.” In other words, more voters wanted a center-right government than a left-wing government, but ranked choice made sure that did not happen.”

—— Bob Res

Emily Hartigan

Ordinarily, his record on city services should be crucial (though weeds would out-weigh golf courses in my view). But the combination of stomping into the cusp of ethnic/racial/historic divisions with the obelisk, and then claiming victim status on an issue that is foundational (anti-semitism), manifests a cynicism that is reminiscent of Tail Gunner Joe. These divisions are wounds, not political weapons.

Harvey Wright

I hope the use of "weird" to describe ranked choice voting refers to it's rarity rather than a negative judgement of it's merits. I'm proud our city uses this system to encourage candidates to run without the vote splitting fears of a binary election system.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup][thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

KT Rivera

Webber can invent all the acronyms/names he wants. What is clear to him now is that the citizens of Santa Fe want him out of office. No surprise that he eliminated the parades this weekend. No candidate could have tolerated 1-2 hours of being the target public booing and tossed items while making their way through the streets of Santa Fe.

Richard Reinders

I heard he was boo’d at Zozobra. But was spared at the Mariachi concert at the Opera, but he had to have walked away from the concert knowing there is a very strong and embedded Hispanic and Native culture in Santa Fe. Viva la Fiesta

Andrew Lucero

It was a very tepid response at the Mariachi concert. I've heard more enthusiastic golf claps... Even to someone as delusional as Webber it was pretty clear that he was not particularly popular with the crowd.

Tom Aageson Aageson

Hate has entered the Mayoral race. Anti-Semitism, life threats smell of White Supremacists. These evil acts have do not deal with the issues of the race. They are hate, unfounded hate. A private citizen recently had a swastika painted on his property. This is not material to make fun of in a column. It is behavior that is unwelcome here and needs to be drum out of our community. Jews have been a positive part of this city's history for centuries. It is time to foster respect for all and the Greater Good, the Common Good

Maria Bautista

Tom, think for a moment. The Jewish family did not announce their address. How on earth could a tágger come up on a large Adobe wall, and say, this exact location, tag right here. Impossible, it was set up by Alan himself.

Russell Scanlon

You underestimate the power and the reach of anti-Semitism and raw unfiltered racial animus.

Stefanie Beninato

Please, Maria. When did you go so far down the path of conspiracy theories?

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup][thumbup]

Joe Brownrigg

[scared][crying][thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]

Joe Brownrigg

This was supposed to be a response to Maria's original comment above.

Stefanie Beninato

What if you vote for Martinez Johnson as a protest vote with no rank choice after that--or you do rank choice after that--Such voting may change the outcome. And Milan, it is not a weird system--what is weird is having a mayor like Debbie Jaramillo elected by 30 percent of the vote. It is a dilemma--- I do not favor either of the front runners--they are mirror reflections concerning development, historic preservation. I have seen Vigil Coppler be rude and unprofessional with staff....This election may be the hardest one in which I have ever voted.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup]

Maria Bautista

Stephanie, good morning, vote your choice, but don't vote for Webber, unless you approve of his decisions.

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington

QANON is not necessarily right wing, and IS very popular in Santa Fe.

Maria Bautista

But it is "Anonymous" revealing the corruption at City Hall. QAnon in different ballpark.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbdown][thumbdown]

Joe Brownrigg

IS it??? I think its popularity is only with a scarce few.

Chris Mechels

I suggest that Webber won last time because he outspent the field. In a ranked choice election, with many candidates, name recognition is key to doing well after the first round. This is a weakness with ranked choice elections. The solution, everyone should use public financing, but Sfe doesn't mandate that. This set the stage for Webber to buy the election, as he did. Milan doesn't mention any of that.

The media also gave Webber a pass on his REAL background; which includes his involvement with Elizabeth Dunham, in Portland. Webber called this mention of this incident "going negative", but the facts raise the question. His record at "Fast Company" is also contrived; he was the PR guy, not the brains; that was Taylor and Zuckerman. In other words Alan is a slick liar/PR guy, not an experienced manager. The SF New Mexican let him get away with this act. Once in office, he went for power, including putting his friend/subordinate in as SF City Manager. This should not have been allowed. Alan is past incompetent, he's dangerous.

Mike Johnson

Well said![thumbup][thumbup][thumbup]

Richard Reinders

[thumbup][thumbup]

Khal Spencer

This sort of campaigning reminds me of Trump's talk of an "invasion" of refugees from Central and South America that only he could stop with his wall. All harkening back to that big picture of Emmanuel Goldstein and the Eastasian Army hordes that show up in the movie/book 1984. An Orwellian vision of calamity.

In reality, the only credible contenders for public office, whether it be the Mayor or a council seat, are moderate to left leaning Democrats or equivalents. Folks in MAGA hats in Santa Fe are so rare as to be commended for their bravery.

All in all, I do wish someone would campaign on making the city services work properly, patching the streets, staffing up the SFPD, and addressing future water and land use planning rather than serenading us with all this other argle-bargle. Our serious problems moving into the future ain't gonna be about statues or CHARTs. They will be about how we deal with growth, land use, transportation, water, sustainability, and energy. Oh, and not to mention, civility.

David C de Baca

Milan Simonich you hit on the head on so many levels. Thank you!

Brian Weiss

I'd like to see Milan expand on/defend his statement that Santa Fe's ranked-choice voting system is "weird." It is a system in use by many cities across the country including NYC, Cambridge, MA, Boulder, and San Francisco. It avoids the cost and delay of runoff elections, which often have poor turnouts. How is that "weird"?

Joseph Tafoya

Just the fact you mention NYC says it all. We do not want the NYC style of city governance.

Emily Koyama

👍👍👍

Joe Brownrigg

Rank choice DID make the previous election less vitriolic; that's a blessing, as anyone reading these pages can appreciate.

Lee Vigil

... but the results. Oy!

Joe Brownrigg

So you did not like the results. That is no reason to dis the system.

Russell Scanlon

It (the letter) certainly smacks of desperation. On the other hand, a sizable minority of folks in our country thought that voting for a con artist man and sexual predator who mocked disabled people and parents of deceased veterans was a good idea, so. . .

Khal Spencer

But Santa Fe went about three to one for Biden.

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbup]

Russell Scanlon

That’s one the reasons I moved here. I will admit—I haven’t lived here long enough to be a completely informed voter on local issues, but I think you are spot on about focusing on local “red meat” problems (roads, education, infrastructure, etc.) and keeping away from these culture wars. SF seems to be blessed and cursed by it’s rich and varied history.

Khal Spencer

Russ, you and I might fight about stuff, but your voice, as far as I am concerned, is a valued one in this community. On anything.

Maria Bautista

And elected, a full term, elected....geez.

Mike Johnson

Official evidence Webber has totally lost it.....

Emily Hartigan

Oh, my gosh -- do I agree with Mike?

Problem is that a lot of folks say Vigil Coppler is not a good person. As I believe in universal salvation, she still seems the better bet, because Webber's behavior in sending city workers to mess with the obelisk on a city holiday that "happened to be" Indigenous People's Day (after his midnight raid failed) is just obscene.

Mike Johnson

I know JoAnne, she is from my valley and is a close friend to many of my friends here. She is a good person, Webber is not, it is that simple. And Webber's behavior with the obelisk debacle, you so well point out, is but the tip of a huge incompetent and vindictive iceberg.

Lee Vigil

What? I don't think it's nice to claim that Vigil-Coppler isn't nice. It sounds like you've never met her. I'm looking forward to a debate to see what their priorities are how they plan to accomplish them.

Joe Brownrigg

It's a good idea to hear their positions on different issues...a MUCH better method than third-hand derogatory or praiseful comments about the person's "likableness."

Augustin de la Sierra

I love this small town. Even when its small town newspaper columnists strangely call ranked choice voting "weird."

Journalist Simonich: You fill out the ballot for mayor in order of whom you think would be the best mayor. For the rational voter for the mayoral race: That's a 1 next to Vigil Coppler's name, a 2 next to Webber's name, and a 3 (or no vote) next to Johnson's name. Math is not weird. Math is kewl. Ask any modern fifth grade girl.

Vigil Coppler for Mayor of Santa Fe, 2021.

Andrew Lucero

Actually Augustin, you don't put a check next to Webber's name anywhere on the ballot. This ensures that he does not get any votes going into a second or third round...

Augustin de la Sierra

Andrew Lucero, come on; do the math. Your approach assumes one prefers GOPer Johnson to Webber. I do not.

Andrew Lucero

You may not, but I sure would vote for Johnson over Webber any day! And many would also.

Joseph Tafoya

If you have to use racism, fear, or Trump, you know you are in trouble. The Emperor has no clothes and he knows it.

Mark Stahl

Racism, fear and Trump- interesting combination.

MP Paul

After reading the full letter Webber wrote to his supporters this weekend I would respectfully disagree with Milan, as the letter was not laughable and for me deeply troubling. The divisive letter Webber wrote inferred that all the other candidates running for mayor of Santa Fe control the actions of MAGA and QAnon members and offered no evidence whatsoever of how the other candidates are associated with the organizations. Anyone that’s left in Santa Fe that still supports Webber must have been horrified to receive such a desperate email. Webber’s time would be better spent working to get our city services back on track after his administration’s shockingly poor stewardship of our community resources.

Khal Spencer

Is that letter online somewhere? I'd like to see the whole thing.

MP Paul

Khal I attempted to copy and paste it here, however the New Mexican came back and said that it couldn't be posted because it contains profanity. I certainly think the New Mexican should post the letter in it's entirety or provide a link. The letter is all over on Facebook and voters have a right to read it.

Khal Spencer

Is there a URL?

MP Paul

I'm seeing it on private Facebook accounts so unfortunately I don't have a URL. If I see a public post I will post the URL.

Khal Spencer

[thumbup]

Bette Booth

[thumbup]

Michael Grimler

C'mon you guys...didn't you know that EVERYTHING is Trump's fault?

Get with the program!

;-)

Joe Brownrigg

[thumbdown][thumbdown][thumbdown]

Emily Koyama

👍👍👍👍👍

Richard Reinders

It was the Russians

David Romero

Weber's part in the Soldier's monument fiasco is going to have more of an effect on the election than some people think. It may even be enough to put Jo Ann Vigil Coppler over the top. I certainly hope so!

Amber Espinosa-Trujillo

More smoke and mirrors to try and deflect from his inept administration! Do not put his name anywhere on your ballot if you chose to rank choice vote! Our City of Holy Faith cannot take four more years of his destruction and hate!

Khal Spencer

MAGA and Qanon influencing the Santa Fe mayor's race? Wow, if Hizzoner said that, I wonder what he's been smoking. There may be dissatisfied people in the People's Republic who will vote "anyone but Alan", but it's certainly not the red hat crowd or Q-people who will decide anything in this town.

Maria Bautista

Those are charged words the mayor uses, trying to scare voters. He is pretty stupid if he doesn't know the difference between QAnon and Anonymous. Vote Webber out of office!!

Emily Koyama

Webber is fear mongering and playing the victim card, so that he can blame everybody but himself if he loses.

Mark Stahl

I believe he stole that strategy from the last president.

Welcome to the discussion.

Thank you for joining the conversation on Santafenewmexican.com. Please familiarize yourself with the community guidelines. Avoid personal attacks: Lively, vigorous conversation is welcomed and encouraged, insults, name-calling and other personal attacks are not. No commercial peddling: Promotions of commercial goods and services are inappropriate to the purposes of this forum and can be removed. Respect copyrights: Post citations to sources appropriate to support your arguments, but refrain from posting entire copyrighted pieces. Be yourself: Accounts suspected of using fake identities can be removed from the forum.