If politicians kept a tally of their trash talk, this election season would clog a landfill.

Let’s start with state Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, D-Albuquerque, the state’s self-described guru of college football prognosticating. Maestas has broadened his fields of interest this fall. He is promoting a proposed $50 million bond issue to build a soccer stadium for New Mexico United, an Albuquerque-based professional team with wealthy owners.

Maestas went after his hometown school district while championing the private enterprise that covets taxpayers’ money to maximize profits.

“APS spent $34 million on a HS football stadium with zero positive impact on economic growth … with no complaints,” Maestas wrote on Twitter.

Most state residents gladly pay for schools and their sports programs to produce well-rounded, successful graduates. High school stadiums serve tens of thousands of students in Maestas’ city. These same kids wouldn’t have ready access to the professional team’s playpen in downtown Albuquerque — even though their parents would cover most of the bill.

Every campaign to subsidize a professional team’s stadium has two commonalities: The costs are understated and the benefits are oversold.

More hyperbole spews from the Santa Fe city election.

Mayor Alan Webber, seeking a second term Tuesday, orchestrates all sorts of endorsements. One of his least-effective testimonials carried the headline, “These mayors get it.” Webber’s crowing came as he announced the mayors of Phoenix and Austin, Texas, had thrown their support to him.

Exactly what the executives of these large, faraway cities “get” is hard to understand. The mayors of Austin and Phoenix don’t drive each day on Santa Fe’s lumpy streets. They don’t have to navigate Santa Fe’s weedy or needle-contaminated parks. Mayors from other places don’t lose sleep because Santa Fe’s police department lost important evidence in cases of violent crime.

Mayors might occasionally cross paths and exchange pleasantries. They don’t really know one another. More important, the two big-city mayors who issued statements for Webber don’t know how well or how poorly Santa Fe’s basic services are administered.

Actor Ali MacGraw also wrote a letter of endorsement for Webber. Her pitch appeared this week in The New Mexican‘s letters section. MacGraw signed her plug for the mayor, and “Santa Fe” was listed as her residence.

Endorsement or not, MacGraw won’t be voting for Webber.

“She is in the unincorporated part of the county, so she would not be eligible to vote in the city election,” said Alex Curtas, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office, which maintains voter registrations.

Santa Fe’s long-shot mayoral candidate, Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson, took a stinging hit recently regarding endorsements. Santa Fe County’s Republican chairman, Bob Graham, phoned me to criticize Martinez Johnson for running a bad campaign.

Graham said he would back Martinez Johnson out of party loyalty but called her “less than we hoped for as a candidate.”

The county Republicans’ first vice chairman, Harry Montoya, wasn’t as generous. Montoya said he is supporting JoAnne Vigil Coppler for mayor. The city election is nonpartisan, but Vigil Coppler is a Democrat.

Higher-ranking Republicans tried Thursday to lessen the embarrassment for Martinez Johnson. Amarillo Steve Pearce, chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party, and two GOP national committee members issued an endorsement of Martinez Johnson.

Like MacGraw, none can vote in the city election. Still, Pearce might have shaken loose some cash contributions for Martinez Johnson if he had not waited until six days before the election to make an endorsement.

The biggest trash-talker in all of politics, former President Donald Trump, also sounded off Thursday. He tried to soften what he’d said about Republican turnout lagging in elections across the country.

“The statement that I made a few weeks ago saying that Republicans will not vote if the Election Fraud of 2020 is not fixed, was in no way meant to imply that I would tell them not to vote, but rather that they may not have the incentive to vote if the election process is not fully remedied, and quickly. It was the Crime of the Century,” Trump wrote in a statement.

His claims of widespread voter fraud were debunked long ago. Trump then tried to intimidate Georgia officials into changing votes to give him an undeserved win in that state. And many crimes occurred after the presidential election, when hundreds of Trump’s supporters rioted at the U.S. Capitol in hopes of staging a coup.

It’s that kind of year. Hype and spin are plentiful — tactics for everyone from soccer fans to an unhappy former president.

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

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

(18) comments

Grace Trujillo

I don't understand why Mayor Webber is worried about people outside the city. You are running for mayor of Santa Fe,. We don't want outside money to influence your decisions. Play fair and leave the outside constituents to someone else.


John Cook

Hmmm. I don't understand how folks seem to think a candidate must be perfect in every way. Webber has broken ground on a huge, new teen center in South Santa Fe; he navigated the City through an unprecedented collapse of revenue and a pandemic and he lost no lives in the Plaza. A good record. Vigil-Coppler has long experience in government and business and clearly would bring even more focus to the South side. I voted to re-elect the Mayor but I'm not going to lose sleep is Vigil-Coppler wins. They are both good candidates. Who knows, if Martinez Johnson wins perhaps she will try to learn something about government and give up the Trump nonsense. She seems like a nice person and smart enough to be Mayor. Get over the search for perfection, folks. We have good candidates for Mayor.

Vince Czarnowski

Too many comments about not voting at all because they don't like any of the candidates. That is the worst thing that you can do for the city. Everyone needs to and should vote. You are in control of what happens in this city. It may be painful but it must be done.

Stefanie Beninato

I too am having a horrible time even wanting to vote for mayor this year. I am doing a protest vote for Martinez Johnson but the question remains will I rank choice either of the other two candidates. Webber has brought some good programs into Santa Fe that address some long term issues but his management staff is incompetent and corrupt and he refuses to see it (EX Why wasn't the city attorney fired for not telling Webber of the multiple jurisdictions on the plaza before he tried to remove the obelisk?) JoAnne Vigil-Coppler comes across as a whiner and a blamer who has trouble understanding some basic concepts (based on her repeated questions on a matter being discussed--has happened multiple times at city council meetings). Her disingenuous attacks--like the whole unsupported clerkie comment that she attributed to mayor and her backwalking her remark on masks (NO WAY!!!) and her failure to call off her attack dogs or to really have any workable ideas--example do we want a rent controlled district that forms an inequitable barrio in town? Who exactly is the "we" that V-C wants to distribute birth control to teenagers? As for Martinez Johnson, I do not agree with many of her philosophical stances, but I admire her courage in jumping into this race and her constancy in her stances--unpopular or not.

William Mee

I think Joanne's multiple questions come from this:

Numerous city decisions were made unilaterally (by the Mayor and a few loyal Councilors), and this really prompted Joanne Vigil-Coppler to run against him. See the City process takes meetings of two independent City Council Committees before it goes to the Council. The Mayor routinely avoided the second committee where the majority of NO votes were. Finance Committee to be exact. He just went direct to Council.

Now, if that wasn't enough: the City Council meetings, are becoming more and more inaccessible to citizens. There are some things that should probably be challenged in court on a Freedom of Speech basis. You are unable to see the "audience" on Webex so you don't know if all your people from your neighborhood turned out---because you could call them quick to participate. You are muted, which is fine, but "Chat" and "Q&A" are disabled to you. Any handouts must be delivered to the staff 72 hours in advance, which is often hard to do for a non-profit board to vote on it, revise it and publish it. The developer or City staff get to use fancy graphics and pointers through screen sharing. Speaking times are limited to two minutes for citizens and only the developer gets rebuttals. Already the two Early Neighborhood Notifications have been cut to one, and that guarantees any meeting to be "adversarial" instead of compromissorial. This arises out of a case that went to the N.M. Supreme Court: Albuquerque Commons versus the City of Albuquerque. Albuquerque Commons. The Santa Fe Neighborhood Network sponsored the Santa Fe Law Center, which teaches lawyers and gives them Continuing Credits. Many of the Attorneys who are presenters at these trainings are paid by developers to represent them in their normal legal profession. So that what was taught (and actually wrote in Chapter 14) was the Neighborhoods need to be muzzled because it interferes with making money. You cannot send an email to Councilors before a meeting because they sit in a “quasi-judicial” role and this is “Ex-Parte Communications.” These restrictions are to a point that a resident has taxation without representation. Additionally, the developer’s right to rebuttal was upheld as “evidentiary” and the Citizen’s as “hearsay” because they are not professionals.

The use of Executive Sessions, whereby the general public cannot witness a City Council discussion, because of threatened litigation is being corruptly used. Some water issues are being forced into the Executive Session under the guise of they affect Water Right, when they don’t.

Stefanie Beninato

William You can submit comments about certain proposals and petitions from the floor until 1PM the day of the meeting---not 72 hrs before. Please quote the exact part of any Ordinance that says neighborhoods need to be muzzled (and if you don't think that will happen under V-C, think again). And sorry, William, but at least sometimes, a councilor would request an item go to another committee. Unless it is an emergency, there has to be at least one committee that reviews and makes a recommendation or not. If you look at the items on the agenda, many go to multiple committees. And if a "few" city councilors and the mayor made a decision, then it is not unilateral--in fact, a majority of the council would have to vote for something to have it become law. Facts matter. Yes, I agree the city attorneys have used a very extreme case to prevent councilors from looking at their emails on a quasi-judicial matter---better they read the emails, report they received them but did not respond to the sender.

Richard Reinders

Elections have always been pick the lesser of two evils or in this case three. Webber marches to an out of state drum and has no connection to the community and also has a terrible track record that makes him the worse candidate for me. Martinez was screwed over by the Republican party which shows why in NM the Republicans are a nothing burger, so that fortunately leaves someone who has a strong connection to the community and actually has a background in local government and that is JoAnn Vigil Coppler it isn't a hard choice to figure out who will be the best to represent Santa Fe and the community.

Katherine Martinez

I agree wholeheartedly Richard. Let's see what our little hamlet decides.

Stefanie Beninato

Maybe that is how you feel about elections (pick the lesser of two evils) but they are many people who strongly support a candidate--not just hold their noses and vote. And your constant whine about Webber's out of state money ignores the fact that the majority of money came from instate--and let's call both the kettle and pot black because I understand that V-C has also accepted out of state money.

Richard Reinders

Here's your words "I too am having a horrible time even wanting to vote for mayor this year. I am doing a protest vote for Martinez Johnson but the question remains will I rank choice either of the other two candidates". This sounds like a hold the nose vote to me.

Stefanie Beninato

You are right, Richard. If I decide to rank choice, my second choice will be a nose hold.

Katherine Martinez

Status quo shall prevail.

Emily Hartigan

At dinner (outside, all vaccinated) this evening with friends, found out the majority just don't intend to vote. I've never skipped an election before, having done voter registration in my hometown of Norfolk, VA back in 1964 and being pretty committed to voting rights ... but the three mayoral candidates currently rank zero, zero and zero with me.

Maria Bautista

Clearly. you do not understand politics in NM. If you rank all of them at zero, then join your friends, don't Vote. The suffragist were beat, raped, jailed and killed so you could vote, so vote, rank them all zero. BUT VOTE!

Richard Reinders


Emily Hartigan

Protest non-vote is a long tradition.

I know who I think will win. I cannot vote for any one of them.

Richard Reinders

Just hold your nose.

William Mee

Maria, that movie Iron Jawed Angels showed that DC jail where they were, it was so dank and moldy that several women held there rotted to death. I can't say it any less graphically.

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