The second half of a two-part mayoral forum Tuesday was a lot like the first — albeit with a claim of a misogynistic insult.

During closing statements at the Lensic Performing Arts Center, City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler alleged Mayor Alan Webber once yelled at her “not to get her panties in a twist” during a meeting between the two. Her claim drew an audible gasp from some of the audience members.

In a statement after the forum, Webber said he did not remember making the statement, but recalled a time when she told him he had offended her with something he said. He said he apologized at the time and told Vigil Coppler she was welcome to reach out to the City Attorney’s Office to make a complaint.

Webber’s campaign shared a copy of letter written by Webber and addressed to Vigil Coppler Feb. 18, 2020, in which he acknowledged Vigil Coppler told him he said something during a meeting between the two that she found “appalling.”

In his Tuesday night statement, Webber said Vigil Coppler declined to make a complaint with the City Attorney’s Office.

“She said it herself during the forum: it’s election time,” Webber said in the statement. “I wonder if that’s why she chose to bring this up now?”

In a telephone interview after the forum, Vigil Coppler campaign manager Sisto Abeyta said the alleged outburst occurred when Vigil Coppler attempted to question some of Webber’s ideas.

Abeyta said no one else witnessed the alleged statement, but added Vigil Coppler filed a complaint that “was blown off.”

Abeyta shared copies of emails between City Attorney Erin McSherry, Webber and Vigil Coppler between September 2019 and July 2020 in which McSherry stated it would “not be appropriate for me to be involved” in a potential complaint against another governing body member.

McSherry further stated the City’s Attorney’s Office could not provide any legal counsel to Vigil Coppler or Webber if she intended to file a complaint, which McSherry instructed her to do, according to the email.

Tuesday night’s dustup is the latest in what is becoming an increasingly contentious race. In a forum last month, Vigil Coppler alleged Webber instructed Santa Fe police Chief Andrew Padilla to stand down as protesters pulled the Soldiers Monument from its base in the Plaza last year.

At the time, city and police officials said a commanding officer on the scene made the call.

Vigil Coppler has provided no evidence of the claim, maintaining she heard it from an officer with the police department.

Webber and Padilla have denied her accusation.

The dramatic close to Tuesday’s forum capped what was otherwise an informative discussion on the candidates’ views on Santa Fe’s troubled housing situation.

Many of the talking points in the first day of the forum Monday were repeated Tuesday night, with all three candidates highlighting how they would like to improve the permitting process for the city Land Use Department and support more construction of affordable housing.

Outlining her plan for growth, Vigil Coppler said she was in favor of using a portion of recreational cannabis revenue to fund the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund and was in support of removing any rules that allow affordably priced units to expire.

Vigil Coppler also said she also supported more dense construction around Santa Fe to help increase the number of units in the city.

“We are never going to achieve affordable housing if we don’t tackle some of the old ways of planning for this city, the two just don’t mesh,” Vigil Coppler said. “You can’t have less density and more affordable housing. It won’t work.”

She said she was in favor of taking a look at areas in the city that can support higher density buildings and plans to work with the City Council on that strategy. She said community members need to have a more open mind about ways to bring more affordable housing into the city.

Webber said he’s already looking at studying the city’s growth possibilities, highlighting a $200,000 study put into the 2022 fiscal year budget.

He also stated a need to augment city code and land use maps to be more accessible for development, so that Santa Fe grows “gracefully and more sustainable.”

“I have said consistently that the future of Santa Fe will go through our Land Use Department,” Webber said.

He highlighted that under his administration, a housing and livable neighborhood task force was launched, adding the city augmented its accessory dwelling unit ordinance to allow for the construction of casitas and approved a more stringent short term rental ordinance.

Webber stated his administration has put city-owned land up for donation to help entice developers to build housing without the cost of land acquisition.

He also stated he was in favor of taxing “luxury homes” — second homes from people who live out of state — at a higher rate to support affordable housing in Santa Fe.

The third candidate in the race, Alexis Martinez Johnson, said she was in favor of recycling old structures around the city for various uses. She said the city shouldn’t allow the developers to “get the upper hand” when trying to build in Santa Fe.

“These developers want to build in Santa Fe, one of the greatest cities not just in New Mexico, but in the world,” Martinez Johnson said.

(21) comments

Joe Brownrigg

Let's be honest. There is no "affordable housing" in Santa Fe. This is a completely untrue designation. Stop using it. It's a lie!!!

Lupe Molina

That's certainly true at market rate but there are a lot of programs offered by nonprofits that can provide subsidized housing. I sympathize with the sentiment but a comment so general helps nobody.

Joe Brownrigg

That is true for a select few.

However, let's just stop claiming there is "affordable housing" in Santa Fe. The City uses this language and it is simply not true. It's a charade.

Lupe Molina

It's not, it's actually a pretty well defined term and program within the city. But you want to scream into the void of the internet without learning something so good luck with that.

Joe Brownrigg

Lupe, I am well aware of the official definition by the City of "affordable housing." I think you know that. You know as well that I claim that is a misleading definition and it should not be used by any honest broker. This is a call for honesty. Period.

Maria Bautista

Lupe, there are waiting lists everything. St Francis Suites, no homeless there, Housing trust, you must qualify, our demographic is in the pits. After 20 years the Santa Fe Housing Coalition has only achieved about 6% of cities needs.

Maria Bautista

You are so right. They permit units, then allow developers to buy out, "fee in lieu". That money goes back to organizations (10) and Homewise.Go rent a unit across from Home Depot. 1800 one bedroom.

Stefanie Beninato

My Two Cents: Webber is way too optimistic about where we are now and especially about the competency and honesty of his management team. He would do himself a favor by promising to seriously clean house.

Vigil Coppler's suggestion of having rent controlled DISTRICTS shows she has no clue as to what economic and social inequality looks like. She also said she only got interested in affordable housing when she got on the council--not as a realtor even though she helped first time buyers. She wants to do away with affordable housing units prices being raised after ten years but she did not raise this issue in the very long discussion of the Zia Station development and V-C has had FOUR years to put such a proposal forward. V-C tries over and over to twist her statement on masks but she did not qualify her statement that it was the lack of enforceability--not the mask when she voted against it and told us she would not refuse showing someone a home if they refused to wear a mask. Look it up. Also look up "No Way, she'd vote for masks" Also listen to 31 March 2021 appeal from a gate on Camino del Monte Sol to hear how V-C treated a staff member--not exactly the respectful way she proclaims she will implement.

Alexis Martinez-Johnson--god love her. IMHO she is the most sincere candidate but not terribly clear about specific tangible goals. I wanted to vote for her as a protest vote but some of the unfounded corruption charges that she flings out there really has put me off. Oh me oh little choice and the election is so close.

Julie Berman

Actually most of the time I think you have no cents...or is that sense. For a person who supposedly has mediation skills, seems like you have not perfected your own listening skills. You criticize literally everyone and try to spread your venom on almost every city issue. I say to you, do something positive and stop for office and make a difference.

Stefanie Beninato

Actually Julie I did run for office in 2010 against Rebecca Wurzberger. I got 38 percent of the votes with 3 percent of her money and little name recognition. Oh BTW I also offer free mediations at least once a year and do lots of pro bono (free) legal work. FYI And I am quoting what I have heard. Listen to the youtube for yourself. I was there for the past two nights.

Lane Coulter and Jan Brooks

be sure to put your hip waders on before reading Chris's commentary. He has a vivid imagination.

Chris Mechels

The real Alan Webber; "" like Slick Willie, hard to pin down. The "staffer" and "friend" that Alan stays in touch with would be Pamela Dunham, who turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of her daughter, like Alan did apparently. It is the fact that Alan, who's background is not management but PR, is so slick that makes him so dangerous. He was "free" to run for election after the early death of Elizabeth Dunham in 2011.

Lupe Molina

Oof. I do yoga but that's a pretty sick stretch.

Mark Ortiz

IF you do not want Webber to be re-elected, remember, it is rank choice voting. Do not even put him as 2nd or 3rd choice on your ballot.

Ed Taylor

Some are asking me how It works if one chooses just ONE of the others (besides Webber) on the ballot? I don't really know. Do you?

A Ortega

It clearly state you dont have to vote for people you dont want to.

Ed Taylor

Thanks for the link. Most helpful.

Mike Johnson

Exactly, ranked choice voting is deceptive, and if you list someone you would never want in the job, they could be in the job. Do not put any vote choice in for a misogynist.

Chris Mechels

A point which needs to be emphasized is that the Mayor has no RIGHT to tell the SFPD to "stand down", as the Chief works for the City Manager, not the Mayor. But, the City Manager is a crony appointed by Webber, so .... In fact Webber has taken far too much power unto himself, and operates as the Dictator of Santa Fe, not the Mayor. He must be removed for that reason. Then the City Council needs to revisit the City Charter and curtail the power of the Mayor, lest this mad power junkie, Alan, become the pattern for future Mayors. If Alan wins, the city loses.

Paula Frank

You're fighting the wrong battle, it has nothing to do with Alan Webber, it is the position of "Strong Mayor" that gives him the power. If you read the job description for a strong mayor, it gives the power to whomever wins the election. This essentially opens the door for someone with less qualification to have executive power over those with much more education and experience. It's the "Strong Mayor" that needs to go.

Emily Koyama

We have the same problem with "strong Governor", thinking she is Queen of New Mexico, throwing out pandemic mandates as SHE sees fit, and ignoring the fact that the Legislature is supposed to decide how dollars (including Pandemic relief funds) should be allocated.

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