After all her showboating, Republican congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson decided not to stand trial on a charge of violating Santa Fe’s ordinance requiring people to wear masks in public places.
Johnson pleaded no contest Tuesday to violating the ordinance.
She campaigned on the Plaza without a mask the afternoon of July 3, saying city government couldn’t dictate that she wear a face covering during the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In fact, Johnson said, she had a constitutional right not to wear a mask. But she couldn’t identify a section of the U.S. Constitution that negated the city ordinance.
Other people on the Plaza complained about Johnson being unmasked while she handed out flyers and spoke about her candidacy in the 3rd Congressional District.
Police Officer Chris Lamoreux issued a citation to Johnson, who accepted the ticket but continued campaigning without a mask.
Johnson initially pleaded not guilty. Her trial was scheduled for Tuesday.
Instead, she changed her plea to no contest, which is treated as an admission of guilt by the court.
Lamoreux said the terms of the deal call for Johnson’s sentence of a written warning to be deferred for 90 days. If she stays out of trouble, no conviction would be listed on city records.
A second offense of the mask ordinance would carry a fine of $50.
Municipal Court Judge Virginia Vigil accepted the terms of the plea bargain.
The hearing was conducted by telephone because of the pandemic. It lasted four minutes, a fraction of the time Johnson campaigned without wearing a mask.
Vigil said the plea deal discussed on the call would be committed to writing and emailed to Johnson.
With that, the candidate hung up. Her case can’t conclude for at least three months, but her political stunt is over.
Johnson’s hypocrisy on the worth of masks will be what she’s remembered for in her moribund campaign for Congress.
On the Plaza, Johnson carried herself as a rebel with a cause. She said the government couldn’t infringe on personal freedom by ordering her to wear a mask while she was outside.
Fresh air, Johnson said, would reduce the chances of an unmasked person spreading or contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Various passersby on the Plaza didn’t appreciate her defiance. One man yelled at Johnson for putting other people at risk.
Public opinion against Johnson soon escalated. I wrote columns about how she’d flip-flopped on face coverings.
Johnson and her four young children all wore masks in April when they attended an outdoor rally protesting Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s business strictures during the pandemic. A photo of Johnson and her kids, all masked for safety, ran in The New Mexican.
At that time, Johnson’s decision to wear a mask was voluntary. Santa Fe’s mayor and city councilors did not approve the ordinance on mask use until June 10.
There was more, none of it good for Johnson. She was a public fan of masks until at least late May. She placed an order on the internet from a woman who was making customized face coverings.
“Heather I love your masks!” Johnson wrote. “Not sure what bidding your doing but I would like to buy a [Dallas] Cowboys one from you. I can buy two. Let me know how much. I’m here in Santa Fe.”
Johnson wanted to outfit her children in custom masks, too.
“Also let me know when you have some for kiddos. I have 2 very small kiddos and 2 bigger kids,” she wrote.
Heather Nordquist made the masks Johnson admired. Nordquist told me she delivered masks on May 29 for Johnson’s 2-year-old twins.
But as the Independence Day holiday approached, Johnson went to the Plaza on a mission to denounce the importance of masks and the government that had mandated them.
She set up a table adorned with U.S. flags. Johnson said personal freedoms were being taken away while disrespect of America escalated.
An ally was filming her stand against face coverings and other perceived enemies.
During Johnson’s soliloquy, she said people who oppose patriotism would like to fling her display of flags to the ground.
No one made a move against the flags Johnson wrapped herself in. Her claims were bluster.
The same was true of her denunciations of the ordinance on masks.
Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez will thrash Johnson in the November election. Leger Fernandez will become the first woman to represent New Mexico’s 3rd District in Congress.
Johnson will return to private life. Her histrionics will be forgotten almost as fast as she is.