One is a fourth-grade teacher with a signature handlebar mustache.
One is a stay-at-home mom who says all policy is health policy.
One is a former 911 dispatcher with a 25-year career in government.
Greg Scargall, Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez and Xavier Anderson are running for the District 4 City Council seat being vacated by Mike Harris, who opted not to seek a second term in the Nov. 5 municipal election.
Although it’s likely ranked-choice voting will be a key factor in the race — it’s the only contest with more than two candidates in this election — two of the hopefuls made news last week.
Scargall and Anderson became ensnared in controversy after reporters uncovered past domestic violence allegations in their records.
Scargall, who disclosed when he ran for City Council in 2018 that he had been arrested but not charged with domestic violence, was the subject of a domestic violence investigation last month. The alleged altercation was verbal, not physical. No charges have been filed.
Scargall’s wife, who filed for divorce Oct. 11, told police she and Scargall had gotten into an argument the night of Sept. 11. While the alleged incident wasn’t violent, Scargall’s wife told investigating officers “there has been prior history of physical domestic violence that has been documented,” according to a police report.
Scargall posted a video Friday on Facebook and apologized to his wife and family. He said he takes the issue of domestic violence “very seriously” and that he hoped police lapel camera footage recorded in the aftermath of the argument would provide of “a more complete picture of the circumstances” surrounding the incident.
“I’m a hurting man right now, but I’m not a quitter,” Scargall, 40, said through tears in the nearly nine-minute video.
“Even if I finish dead last in this process, I will continue to live with a purpose and a meaningful life that desires to make a bigger difference in this world and make an impact in people’s lives for the better,” he said.
Anderson, 46, also faced a domestic violence allegation for which he was not arrested or charged. The Santa Fe Reporter reported Anderson’s ex-wife asked for a protective order in 2010 that accused Anderson of stalking and preventing her from leaving their home. The protective order, filed in Sandoval County, is unavailable online.
Anderson, who has a public safety background, vehemently denied the allegations and said the protective order was part of a “messy divorce.”
“Nothing ever came of those allegations because nothing ever happened,” he said. “They were completely false.”
With less than three weeks before the election, it’s unclear if the reports will affect the vote, especially under the ranked-choice system. The rankings are used if no candidate crosses the 50 percent-plus-one-vote threshold during the first round of tallying.
The system debuted during the city’s 2018 mayoral election. In that election, which drew five mayoral candidates, Alan Webber was declared the winner after four rounds of tallying.
Cassutt-Sanchez, who grew up in Santa Fe and has a master’s degree in public health, said her background gives her an advantage over her opponents.
“I come from this philosophy that all policy is health policy, and what I mean by that is that every decision that is made at City Hall is going to impact the well-being of the citizens in the community,” she said. “The reason that I feel that I’m the best person to represent my district is because this is a perspective that is not taken very often. I don’t think that we think so much about how the real impacts of some of our decisions, and we don’t see how things are really all interconnected.”
Although Cassutt-Sanchez has some ties to Mayor Alan Webber’s administration — her campaign manager is Daniel “Danny” Maki, who is married to city Finance Director Mary McCoy, and her treasurer is Elizabeth LaPan Kamara, the sister of interim City Manager Jarel LaPan Hill — she has said she is her “own person” and that no one is pulling her strings.
Cassutt-Sanchez, who graduated from Santa Fe High School, said she knew she wanted to run for public office “since probably my first quarter of grad school.” She said she decided to jump into the race when Harris announced he wouldn’t be seek reelection.
“I feel that I’m the candidate that can really look at the broader picture, really take a holistic viewpoint and synthesize things together to create policies that are really going to benefit our city and my community and my district,” she said.
Anderson, who also grew up in Santa Fe, said he and his wife were discussing “city services and equity” in the district when he decided to seek elective office.
“She looked over and said I could do something about it or I could be quiet,” he said.
Anderson touts his 25-plus years working in city, county and state government as on-the-job training that would allow him to hit the ground running if elected. He has worked for a number of government agencies, including the Department of Public Safety’s Law Enforcement Academy. He started his career in government as a 911 dispatcher with the city in 1994 and said he was quickly promoted to supervisor. He is currently management analyst of finance and budget for the Los Alamos County Fire Department, which he said supports his council bid.
“I bring that familiarity with the city issues,” he said. “In addition to that, I bring the experience in how to deal with those city issues. I think that makes me very unique.”
Before joining the fire department in Los Alamos, Anderson worked for the city of Santa Fe in 2018 on a new technology modernization project. He said he left because it was a term position and was told that funding for the position wasn’t guaranteed.
“I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t a chance of me missing a paycheck,” he said. “The position in Los Alamos came up and it was actually a really good fit and it ended up being a pretty significant raise to come up the Hill.”
Anderson is the only homeowner — and landlord — in the race, which he said is a plus because it shows he is “vested in this community for a long time.” The son of a Mexican immigrant, Anderson is also the only candidate with dual citizenship. At a recent forum, he said he was an example of a “typical American success story.”
As the only Santa Fe native and military veteran in the race, Scargall hopes he’ll emerge the clear winner in a ranked-choice voting contest with his message of being an independent-minded champion of the south-central council district. Scargall has name recognition on his side after finishing second, also in a three-way race, in March 2018.
“Many people said I won the campaign and lost the election,” he said of his first run for elective office. “There was a real hope and buzz — and I still hear it to this day — that I’m a breath of fresh air to what’s going on in this community. I don’t have the same tune. I’m not using the same lingo as everybody and that’s just because I’m not scripted, I’m coming from the heart. This is my community. I love Santa Fe — everything Santa Fe.”
Scargall, who worked for more than five years as the veterans coordinator and school certifying official at Santa Fe Community College, said he recently switched careers because he saw a need for teachers in the public schools. Scargall, who served as a Navy hospital corpsman assigned to the Marines, also volunteers on a regular basis with the disaster response organization Team Rubicon.
Scargall was convicted of drunken driving in 1998, which he previously disclosed. He disclosed the conviction again in a candidate questionnaire from The New Mexican this year, but he didn’t reveal that he had also been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, though the charge was dropped. Scargall also failed to disclose that he pleaded guilty to a drunken-driving charge in Orange County in California in 2007.
Scargall said he has struggled with alcoholism but has been sober for seven years and three months. He said he didn’t disclose the conviction in California, where he used to live, because “there’s probably a lot of shame behind that.
“I’ve always told the voters, ‘Look, if you’re looking for a perfect candidate, I’m not the person. There’s plenty of other options out there and I think these other two [candidates] will do a good job.’ ”
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.