Two incumbent city councilors and a sitting municipal judge appear to have a clear path to another term in the Nov. 5 city election.
District 1 City Councilor Renee Villarreal, District 3 City Councilor Chris Rivera and Municipal Judge Virginia Vigil are running unopposed in Santa Fe’s municipal election, which will be held in November for the first time.
The open race for the southeast side District 2 council seat being vacated by Peter Ives drew two candidates: Michael J. Garcia, state program director for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and Alysia Abbott, who picked up her nominating petitions days after the City Council voted to make it easier to build and rent guesthouses in Santa Fe, a proposal she opposed.
The race for the south side District 4 also is open after Mike Harris decided not to seek a second term. It drew three candidates: Xavier Anderson, a management analyst for the Los Alamos Fire Department; Jamie Cassutt-Sanchez, a stay-at-home mom who has a master’s degree in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles; and Greg Scargall, who works as the veterans coordinator and school certifying official at Santa Fe Community College.
None is guaranteed a spot on the ballot, though.
City Clerk Yolanda Vigil is in the process of verifying petition signatures to determine whether they will qualify for the ballot, so while the field of candidates can’t grow, it could contract. Vigil has a little over a week to verify petition signatures.
Rivera, who is seeking his third and final four-year term on the council, said Thursday he had mixed feelings about being the only candidate in the race for District 3.
“I’m glad because in one way I think that maybe people feel I’m doing a pretty good job and want to keep me,” said Rivera, who also ran unopposed four years ago. “On the other side, it could mean that people are just kind of fed up with politics and don’t really want to be involved.”
Garcia, 40, said he decided to run because he wanted to give back to the community where he was born and raised.
“I’ve been working in community development work for the last 14 years, and I see this as an opportunity to just continue to work and support my community,” said Garcia, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s in public administration from the University of New Mexico.
Abbott did not return a message seeking comment. She was among a group of people who spoke against a proposal the governing body approved last month that eases restrictions on building and renting guesthouses, or casitas.
“We’re the people who have made the neighborhoods that all of these young people really would like to move into,” Abbott, who identified herself as a 20-year homeowner in District 2, said at last month’s council meeting. “We appreciate what needs they have, but you will destroy what we have built.”
The race for District 4 pits two newcomers against a former candidate.
Scargall finished second in the District 4 council race two years ago, losing to City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler.
Cassutt-Sanchez, a 34-year-old Santa Fe High School graduate who grew up in the city, said she knew she was going to run for public office “since probably my first quarter of grad school.”
“I really come from the idea that all policy is actually health policy,” said Cassutt-Sanchez, who moved back to Santa Fe from California with her husband after the birth of their son, who is now 10 months old. “Everything that we do at a government level is going to impact our citizens’ physical, mental and environmental health.”
Anderson, 46, said he would bring a lot of public safety and general government experience to the job.
“I think I bring a very good understanding of … how city government works, how government in general works with everything from ordinance development on out to budget and finance development, that boots on the ground experience,” he said.
Vigil, the city clerk, said candidates seeking public financing have until July 22 to turn in their qualifying contributions and seed money.
Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.