Councilor Trujillo to announce run for mayor

Councilor Ron Trujillo listens during the City Council meeting in March 2017. Luke E. Montavon/For The New Mexican

City Councilor Ron Trujillo, who for years has been talking about running for mayor of Santa Fe in 2018, will make it official on Saturday.

The 48-year-old married father of two and longtime state Department of Transportation employee plans to formally announce his candidacy at 1:30 p.m. at Ragle Park, making him the first contender in what could be a crowded field seeking what will become full-time position next year and pay significantly more than the current $29,500 annual salary.

Trujillo, who has a year remaining on his third consecutive term representing a south-side City Council district, last month quietly filed papers with the City Clerk’s Office declaring his candidacy for the citywide mayoral race.

In an interview Monday, Trujillo said he wants city government to get back to focusing on basic municipal services such as public safety, street improvements and recreational opportunities.

“You know me. I’m about Santa Fe,” said Trujillo, a Santa Fe native who often contends that the city caters too much to tourists and not enough to “the locals.”

“The issues that pertain to our city, the issues that pertain to our constituents here in Santa Fe, those are the issues that I’m passionate about,” he said. “I’m always passionate about those issues because that’s who it affects. It affects those of us who live here 24/7.”

Trujillo recently cast the lone dissenting vote against a proposed tax on sugary beverages to fund early childhood education programs. The plan to seek voter approval of the tax in a May special election is being championed by Mayor Javier Gonzales.

“I am against this tax because since when did it become the responsibility of the city to take on a state initiative like schooling,” he said before the last week’s vote, reading from a five-page statement for more than 17 minutes.

“I am all for collaborating between the city, state and school board to come up with solutions, but when we as a city start taking on and funding issues that are not within the purview of city government, I tend to look at it like, ‘Here is an entity overstepping their jurisdiction,’ ” he said.

Former Mayor Sam Pick said Monday of Trujillo, “I don’t know him personally, but what I see and what I read, I think he would be a formidable candidate.”

With the election still a year away, it’s unclear who else is going to run. Gonzales has said he will announce sometime this summer whether he will seek a second four-year term. Gonzales also is considering running for governor of New Mexico.

Councilor Joseph Maestas, a former mayor of Española who is considering a run for mayor, said Monday he remains undecided. “I’m talking with my family, with friends and allies in the community,” Maestas said. “So, yes, I’m exploring it.”

Trujillo, who successfully led an effort to bring the semiprofessional Santa Fe Fuego baseball team to the city, said he wants to help create more recreational opportunities for the city’s youth, such as a bowling alley and a trampoline arena like Albuquerque’s GravityPark.

Trujillo said he also wants to encourage more businesses to come to Santa Fe.

“I want the word to go out that Santa Fe is open for business,” said the councilor, who attended New Mexico State University in Las Cruces off and on for about four years but never obtained a degree. “We want the right businesses, you know, to come here. Of course we’re not going to be putting in factories, smoke stacks and stuff like that.”

Trujillo couldn’t specifically say how the city would lure more businesses.

“That’s the whole thing,” he said. “As a mayor, I believe, a mayor needs to be on the front lines as well, talking to these businesses and all that stuff. What does it take for you to come to our community? These are the discussions that need to be had.”

When asked whether the city has focused enough on attracting businesses during Gonzales’ tenure, he said it has not. “I think, yes, we have gotten some businesses here, but we’ve seen a lot of businesses close as well,” Trujillo said.

Gonzales defended his accomplishments as mayor.

“We should all be proud of Santa Fe’s progress out of a recession that was a blow to our economy,” Gonzales said in a statement Monday. “Our city is number one in New Mexico in jobs created by entrepreneurs. Our unemployment is the lowest in the state. Tourism is up. We lead the nation in women-owned businesses, and our film industry had a $250 million impact last year.”

Trujillo, who works as line manager for the state Transportation Department’s Fleet Management Bureau, said his years on the council have given him the experience and qualifications to be mayor.

“I do understand the way the city of Santa Fe works and runs,” he said.

“And it’s caring — caring about your community,” Trujillo added. “That’s the reason I ran for City Council. Because I cared about my community. I wanted to be part of the change.”

Trujillo narrowly won his first race for council in 2006, edging out incumbent Carol Robertson Lopez by just two votes.

“That was the closest race so far in the history of Santa Fe,” said Trujillo, who ran unopposed in 2010 and in 2014.

Trujillo said he plans to use the city’s public financing system for his mayoral campaign and would quit his state job if elected.

Contact Daniel J. Chacón at 505-986-3089 or Follow him on Twitter @danieljchacon.

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