Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber hit back Monday against a critical advertisement about him that was funded by the Spanish fraternal organization Union Protectíva de Santa Fé, calling the group's ad "disturbing."
The ad, published last week in the Santa Fe Reporter, bore the heading "Mayor Webber's Dark Side" and included an essay that claimed Webber has attempted to privatize city services, discounted "attacks on our religion" and established a "Marxist" process to address potentially controversial monuments across the city.
Webber condemned the advertisement in a statement circulated by his campaign team.
"These charges are wrong," the statement said. "The facts are wrong. Even worse, their intention is wrong: Their purpose is to inflame divisions in our city."
Virgil J. Vigil, president of Union Protectíva de Santa Fé, said Monday he disagreed with Webber's claims that language in the ad was false.
"We have different opinions," Vigil said in an interview.
The organization's ad was the fourth in a series criticizing Webber. After Webber ordered the removal of a Don Diego de Vargas statue from Cathedral Park in the summer, the 106-year-old group placed an ad in The New Mexican calling on the mayor to protect the Kit Carson monument at the downtown U.S. District Court and the obelisk on the nearby Santa Fe Plaza.
The new ad, which comes just a couple of weeks after Webber announced his bid for reelection, includes images of the mayor surrounded by public monuments in the city, including the destroyed Plaza obelisk, known as the Soldiers Monument.
Vigil said Union Protectiva doesn't see the ad as political, and the organization's bylaws prevent it from supporting any political candidates.
"The mayor is trying to make a big deal out of this and say this is political," Vigil said. "We have been complaining about the mayor since July when he removed that statue. It has nothing to do with the election. It has to do with the mayor's policy and the mayor's anti-Santa Fe culture."
Webber said the advertisement, which also refers to the state government's upcoming removal of Gilbert Guzman's Railyard mural Multi-Cultural from a building undergoing renovation, is seeking to "divide."
"We pride ourselves on our histories, our diversity, our many cultures, backgrounds and experiences," Webber wrote in the statement Monday. "Everyone is welcome here. That's what we believe, that's how we live. It's who we are.
"We must reject this kind of divisive ugliness," he added. "I know Santa Feans join me in standing against hate here and across our country."
Webber's campaign also noted a flyer circulated by the local chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the union that represents city employees, depicts an older man with a long, exaggerated nose who is shaking in a chair.
Webber said in the statement the image uses an old, racist characterization of Jews.
"This has no place in Santa Fe," Webber wrote. "Not just with regard to me, but for everyone in our diverse city."
Gil Martinez, vice president of the union, said he was "offended" that the mayor would suggest the image was meant as a racist attack. He said the image was not meant to depict Webber but a random city employee.
"I think it's ridiculous in every form you can look at it," Martinez said. "They are grasping at straws."
He also said the flyer was in relation to discussions over supplemental life insurance and that it was almost 4 months old.
In the campaign statement, Webber called on JoAnne Vigil Coppler, the only other candidate to announce a bid for mayor, and other candidates for city office to denounce "these kinds of attacks."
Vigil Coppler said she had not seen the advertisement as of Monday.
"The only thing I can say is if he wants to run a positive campaign, then let's talk about that," she said.