Asked what he would do if he weren’t mayor of Española, Javier Sánchez didn’t take even a second to respond.

“I would be running for mayor of the city of Española,” he said.

And so he is. Sánchez announced Sunday he is seeking reelection in March.

As of Monday, he had already raised $2,000 for his campaign, he said.

It’s unclear if it will be a contested race.

As of Tuesday, he said he had not heard of any other candidates announcing plans to run for mayor of the town of some 10,000 residents.

About three-fourths of the town’s registered voters are Democrats. Sánchez is a Republican. But that did not stop him from winning the March 2018 election with 54 percent of the vote in a three-way race against two city councilors.

The 48-year-old Sánchez, a restaurateur who made that 2018 election his first run for public office, is a Yale University graduate who also has a master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame.

During the 2018 race, he vowed to bring fresh ideas and energy to the town. He has been outspoken in his criticism of patrón-style politics, saying it was time to remove the “movidas” and bullying from the scene.

Later that year, in an unprecedented move, he asked members of the State Ethics Commission to extend their oversight to include investigating small-town New Mexico politics.

Though the city’s own laws include a provision to do just that, he told the commission members, “I assure you that people are gonna put people who they have in their pocket on one side or the other” of any issue or investigation.

Some commission members suggested he first meet with other mayors around the state to discuss the issue.

Sánchez said during a phone interview Monday that it is important to speak out on such issues. “If you’re not getting into trouble, you’re not doing your job,” he said.

“Sometimes it takes that voice to get recognized, to fight for what is most important here in the Valley for values and do everything we can to build Española economically.”

The biggest challenge to the job, he said “is an often deep-rooted mentality in power systems that feel like, in order to make change, you have to make alliances and create a power network. I’m totally against that. I think every decision and process that comes up should be independent. We often like to hook it on to other things, whether it’s pats on the back or favors down the line.”

He said finding ways to build the town’s economy and keep members of the younger generation in town are his key goals for his second term.

Earlier this year, Sánchez defended his town’s reputation when he openly criticized Taylor Locker, who served as the GOP’s vice chairman of the 1st Congressional District until he was expelled by the party’s executive committee in August for making disparaging remarks about the people of Española on a local radio broadcast.

Sánchez said despite his city’s many challenges — addiction problems and a poverty rate pushing toward the 25 percent mark — he “loves it here. You can’t find a better home, and you can’t ask for better people to be around. Our sense of loyalty, you just can’t find anywhere else on Earth.”

General Assignment Reporter

Robert Nott has covered education and youth issues for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He is assigned to The New Mexican's city desk where he covers a general assignment beat.

(8) comments

Steven Martinez

He says he loves it here, he hasn't lived here in years. He lives in Rio Rancho. He used his Mother's Address to run for mayor. Because you know, you need to live in the city you wanna watch over! He wanted to do away with the "Movidas" but him and the police chief have and continue to do questionable if not straight up illegal practices/ moves call them what you will, they were and are illegal

Francisco Carbajal

By all respects, Senor Steven Martinez, before you begin accusing the current Mayor and the Chief of Police Chief of "continue to do questionable if not straight up illegal practices/moves "Movidas" call them why you will, they were and are illegal," why not report them to the New Mexico Attorney General's Office (AGO)? Maybe the AGO can open a case file on the Espanola Mayor and the Chief of Police. The last time I met with the Mayor and the Chief of Police from Espanola, they were highly qualified to represent the City of Espanola. Their subject matter expertise relating to public safety, health, and welfare for the city dwellers is exceptional, trustworthy, honest, and definitely, outstanding! Otherwise, Senor Steven Martinez, the negative little things that you say or do about these two honorable men is disrespectful and does not hold any validation or deserves merits at this moment. Have a good day.

michael marquez

Funny how the critics keep saying he does not live in Española. Yet at about any random time I have run into the mayor working, dining, shopping or enjoying family time here in town.

Matthew Rawlings

I believe the people of Espanola are in good hands with this republican. He has proved it!

Steven Martinez

I'm sorry, but how has he proved it? More local businesses have shut they're doors under his leadership than any other. Of course HIS restaurant hasn't suffered like all the other local businesses hmmm

Francisco Carbajal

Senor Steven Martinez, by all respects, why does the current Mayor of the City of Espanola have to prove anything? Por que? If it is true "more local businesses have shut down they're doors under his leadership than any other," really? Frankly, before he became Mayor for the City of Espanola, do you really think the City of Espanola Government was in good hands with all of the scandals that was happening in that city? Lastly, what do you think the COVID-19 Pandemic did from a positive side relating to the local businesses? Basically, stop blaming HIS restaurant for everyone's suffering due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. Their is always another side of a story to tell and this one is not one of them. Thanks.

Francisco Carbajal

Senor Matthew Rawlings, definitely, I agree with you. However, the "Republican" party has nothing to do on how the current Espanola Mayor conducts his official duties as "Mayor." Regardless if he was a "Republican, Democrat, and/or other party member, the honest work that he has performed for the City of Espanola is good for the City of Espanola, period! Currently, his administration has proven to collaborate with other municipalities, pueblos, state and federal governments by establishing a good working relationships, as well as the private business and non-governmental entities. Good for him in terms of announcing to be re-elected for a Second-Term. He deserves to complete the first term of office objectives and mission for the City of Espanola.

Ernest Green

This man is a real asset to the community and his interest in public service quite valuable. Continued good luck and good will to Mr Sánchez and our sister city to the north.

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