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Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber hands out Santa Fe pins to Fuego players June 1 after they received their jerseys at Fort Marcy Ballpark.

Only in Santa Fe could the sport of baseball become a political football.

The Fuego, the city’s Pecos League baseball team, was featured in a video released by Mayor Alan Webber’s reelection campaign as he touted the reopening of Santa Fe amid the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.

But the video, which included sound bites from Fuego General Manager Yvonne Encinias, was perceived by some as the team’s endorsement of Webber’s campaign. Encinias said she didn’t want her interview to be seen that way, but rather a celebration of the team’s return to action.

The video was pulled by Webber’s campaign.

“I wasn’t intending it as an endorsement, but to get people excited to go to a baseball game,” Encinias said. “I never mentioned an endorsement. I never said ‘Vote for X, Y, Z.’ It was more so — we are opened up. Let’s come out and see some baseball.”

The video, which gained a moderate traction over the weekend through social media channels before being dropped, includes an interview with Encinias as well as clips of the Fuego’s Opening Day festivities — including Webber’s ceremonial first pitch.

Encinias said she requested to see the video before it published so she could vet it with Pecos League Commissioner Andrew Dunn, but was informed it had already been posted. It was ultimately was pulled down after a round of emails between the campaign and Encinias.

Webber campaign spokeswoman Sascha Guinn Anderson wrote in an email that Encianias knew the interview was going to be placed in a campaign advertisement.

“The mayor has had a great relationship with Yvonne and [the] Fuego, as you can hear in her video,” Anderson wrote. “Yvonne has done a tremendous job as the team’s manager and the mayor was gratified by her words of encouragement and support.”



Anderson wrote the video was pulled down “out of respect for Yvonne because someone complained to her boss.”

She added it was “sad that some are trying to create further divisions about one of the feel-good stories of Santa Fe.”

Dunn said he has received a handful of calls asking about the video after it went online and reiterated the league and its teams remain apolitical.

“It will cause problems,” Dunn said of handing out endorsements. “That is where we are with this, either way. I guess its good they want us to support them, but whoever we support, we are making enemies anyway.”

Former City Councilor Ron Trujillo, one of the candidates defeated by Webber in the 2018 mayoral election, helped lead the push to bring the Fuego to Santa Fe in 2013. Members of Trujillo’s family — including his son, Hunter Trujillo — shared the video on Facebook and slammed it as an advertisement.

“I brought the Fuego here to Santa Fe for the people so there would be another entertainment venue for the people of Santa Fe,” Ron Trujillo said. “I didn’t bring them for political gain or anything.”

Encinias said she believes the video is being blown out of proportion.

“We are just here to play baseball,” Encinias said.

(15) comments

Samuel Herrera

The real reason the Fuegos pulled it down is because they don’t want to be associated with a toxic divisive mayor who is going to lose the next election.

Doug Nava

Of course they knew it was for a political endorsement, or they would of never posted it on Mayor Webbers Campaign Page. I am more than sure that Yvonne was asked to say great things about Mayor Webber, who just happen to show up during a re-election year to be seen throwing out the first pitch. If Yvonne is stating it was to get people excited than why allow it on Webbers Campaign Page, and another note is Mayor Webber is such a great supporter of the community baseball and is this great supporter with Fuego and works well with the team, than why hasn't Yvonne asked him to help with getting proper accommodations needed to house the players that travel to Santa Fe? Sorry but we all saw right through this, Yvonne is extremely dedicated to Fuego, to bad she was another Webber Victim trying to make himself look good in a community that is destroying!!

Stefanie Beninato

Actually, Doug, Webber announced the opening of Fuego's season and the need for housing for the players at a city council meeting not too long ago. My question is why Fuego does not pay an affordable wage.

John Martinez

Yo Mark and the rest of yall are right on with your comments. This is in fact not a big deal at all, but its a way for Webber to get more attention. You don't think, he and this news paper aren't in cahoots to bring publicity his way. You know the old saying ''all publicity is good publicity''.

Khal Spencer

Should not have been used in a campaign ad unless that was agreed to in advance by the team and its league management. And of course, assuming the team is not a nonprofit.

Sigh.

Vince Czarnowski

"She added it was “sad that some are trying to create further divisions about one of the feel-good stories of Santa Fe.”"

The chief architect of this division in Santa Fe is the mayor himself.

Mark Ortiz

Of course megalomaniac Webber did this. He literally has ZERO self-awareness. He became mayor raising over 300K, 95% of that from wealthy anglos ups on the east side or from out of state. I cringe that he's wearing that jersey. He proudly represents the elite class in this city and occasionally, when the opportunity arises, he'll slum it. His delusional brain, will tell him that working people of this city, locals, minorities support him. I'm sure when he's sipping champagne or fancy bubbly water, pinky out, with his opera/gallery owner/developer/ come to Santa Fe to vacation in one of their 4th house crowd, they have a good chuckle. This team has brought together baseball fans from every corner of this city. It's been the best thing to happen for the common folk in the northside of town in a while. BUT in the time the Fuego have been here, Mayor Javier Gonzales, Webber, Councilors Bushee, Lindell, local girl made good Villareal (ya right), El Tigre, Daniel St native C. Rivera, Ives, etc, have done nothing to upgrade two of the simplest and most necessary things, railings so nobody falls and sues the city and working bathrooms. Sin verguenza! On that note, where’s Vigil Coppler? Is she running, is she not running? “She said she sometimes hears requests on the campaign trail for the city to ditch ranked-choice voting.” What campaign trail? Webber is the incumbent with a swimming pool of money? If you aren’t using public financing JoAnne, where’s your website so we can volunteer, donate, put up signs, something?

Mark Ortiz

P.S. If he gave a rat's arse, he'd get those Fuego players out of the Greentree Inn and into safer digs.

Stefanie Beninato

And my question is what has Fuego contributed to any needed upgrades or maintenance as was part of the contract with the city when Fuego came on the scene and was given the use of this Ft Marcy ball field?

Mark Ortiz

I dont know about that contract thing but it is City property and amongst its users, SF Prep, Monte del Sol, and the local Babe Ruth league. Stephanie, your hate affair with the Fuego is well documented even tho it has brought great pleasure to thousand of us. Pleasure, I mean from the Fuego not the grinding of your axe. I do know the team has to take care of things, field grooming, sweeping down the stands, but are you saying Andrew Dunn has to repair the bathrooms and make it ADA compliant?

Maria Bautista

Mark, I don't think Stefanie has issues with the baseball team, its with all the great things that Dunn said would happen that fell on their face, players on losing end, no pro scouts, no hosting families, no economic gain. Shame, the stadium has been indisrepair and out of ADA compliance.

Amber Espinosa-Trujillo

Stephanie dear, they pay to use the facility just like the UK. Swim Team paid to use your swimming pool! You've hated this idea since the inception so go back to your museums, your angry wall and giving fake tours!

Jeff Varela

Good to have baseball playing again at Ft. Marcy. Who cares who endorses Webber. Any photo-op this phony mayor will gladly take!

Amber Espinosa-Trujillo

The most ironic thing for me in all of this is that Yvonne said at the Santa Fe Meet and Greet with the team how horrible Webber’s Administration was as she had previously worked for the City in Payroll after leaving the State. Then Opening Night at Fort Marcy Ballpark she was glad handing Webber and as we now learn did a political ad for him! What a difference a few days make!

Richard Reinders

Politics are a contact sport in New Mexico, you might get a black eye.

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