Santa Fe police officers on Friday issued a citation to Republican congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson, who refused to wear a mask while campaigning on the Plaza.
“It is not the government’s right to tell me I have to put something on my body,” Johnson said while waiting for the ticket. “I believe in personal choice and personal responsibility. No edicts.”
Should someone who favors personal responsibility be courteous enough to wear a mask while in public during the novel coronavirus pandemic?
Johnson didn’t answer my question, but she mentioned the U.S. Constitution as her shield from government orders. What part was she referencing?
“I don’t see it in there where it says I have to wear a mask,” she replied.
Johnson accepted the ticket from the officers and signed it. This was not an admission of guilt, only acknowledgement that she stands accused of violating the mask ordinance.
Johnson was the second person of the day the officers ticketed for failing to wear a face covering. The other defendant was in a different park.
The officers left but Johnson remained on the Plaza, unbowed and her face still uncovered.
A storm brewed, and it was about to rain, too.
A masked man with gray hair kept a safe social distance as he walked by Johnson, but he made his disgust with her known. He had the build of a linebacker and his booming voice oozed anger.
“Think about what you’re doing,” the man yelled at Johnson. “The mask is to save us from you.”
He jawed at Johnson for a couple more seconds before going on his way. Johnson classified the encounter as hostile, a rarity, she said.
She estimated her defiance of the recently approved city mask ordinance had drawn complaints from 20 percent of the people she encountered on the Plaza.
I asked her if she would ever wear a mask. Maybe if she were in a hospital, she said.
Johnson must be forgetful. The New Mexican on April 21 ran a striking photo of Johnson and her four small children. She and the kids all wore masks or long handkerchiefs fashioned into V-shaped face coverings.
Johnson had the kids in tow as she protested outside the state Capitol along with some 20 other adults. Johnson had donned the mask while criticizing Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s quarantine order.
Now Johnson’s unhappiness is with the governor and the City Council ordering people to wear masks in public places.
Johnson established a small campaign station near the obelisk on the Plaza. A table with her campaign flyers was adorned with American flags.
Johnson criticized vandals who defaced the obelisk last month. She said the flag is under attack, too. Unpatriotic people would like to fling this symbol of pride and freedom to the ground, she said.
No one made any move against Johnson’s flags. She handed me her flyers. They contained biographical information but made no mention of her age.
I asked how old she is, a standard question for every defendant and every candidate for public office. On this day, Johnson was both.
“I don’t tell anyone my age,” she said.
I mentioned two-time presidential candidate Gary Hart, who also would duck the question because some claimed he had shaved a year off his age. Johnson didn’t seem to know who Hart was.
But she had plenty to say about Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez, her opponent for the open seat in New Mexico’s 3rd Congressional District.
Covering Northern New Mexico, the district is a Democratic stronghold. Leger Fernandez defeated six opponents in the Democratic primary and is an overwhelming favorite to rout Johnson in the November election.
Johnson said she is flipping registered Democrats to her side by highlighting Leger Fernandez’s alliance with big-money groups favoring abortion rights.
Johnson praised President Donald Trump for speaking against abortion. Johnson, though, said she didn’t vote for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.
She said she cast her ballot for former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, no relation, who was the Libertarian candidate for president.
“My loyalty is to New Mexicans,” she said.
This does not extend to Lujan Grisham and other New Mexico Democrats ordering people to wear masks.
Was Johnson as critical of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a fellow Republican who just ordered people in most of his vast state to wear face coverings in public?
“I’m not going to wear a mask in Texas, and I’m not going to wear a mask in New Mexico,” Johnson said.
She can tell it to the judge. Johnson is scheduled to appear in Municipal Court on July 29.