Considering the next presidential campaign already seems to be gearing up, it’s understandable that people might lose sight of elections closer to home. Many folks just want to turn it all off.
Though presidential politics already is starting to hog the cable TV airwaves and social media chatter — ludicrous, considering Joe Biden hasn’t finished his first year in office — that’s where we are. But we don’t have to be.
Attention would be better spent on politics at home, where in less than two months, elections will be held for Santa Fe mayor, several City Council seats, plus school board and important school bond questions.
Now is when citizens need to tune into the issues and personalities that matter most.
Local elections may lack the turnout of national elections, but in many ways they matter just as much, in large part because it’s at the grassroots level where individuals can make a difference with a single vote.
Consider what we are seeing at school boards across the country, including in New Mexico (although not in Santa Fe yet, thank goodness). Anti-maskers are storming local board meetings, taking over what generally had been polite discussions during open public comment periods. In some cases, they have disrupted governance to the point of physical danger. In some parts of the country, the screamers are becoming actual candidates for school board. The trend is disturbing.
Fortunately, the situation is calmer here, both in city and school races. Vigorous public debate raises interest and helps define just what it is government should do. And in some races, it’s a pity there isn’t more competition, because it’s varied, reasoned opinions that help make candidates — and thus, government — better.
The next several weeks provide an opportunity to debate and focus on what matters to people, not politicians.
For anyone interested in voting come November, the first step is to make sure your voter registration is current. If you’re not, visit nmvote.org and register. Then, visit the Santa Fe County Clerk’s website and familiarize yourself with candidates and important election dates. The information is at santafenm.gov/nov2election.
On Oct. 1, The New Mexican also will publish a voter’s guide put together by the respected League of Women Voters. The newspaper also will vigorously cover the news that comes from these races.
The election is coming up fast, with early voting beginning Oct. 5, just a little more than three weeks away.
City voters will choose a mayor. The candidates are Alexis Martinez Johnson, JoAnne Vigil Coppler and incumbent Alan Webber — and four City Council seats are on the ballot. In District 1, candidates are Roger Carson, Brian Gutierrez, Joe Hoback and incumbent Signe Lindell; in District 2, incumbent Carol Romero-Wirth is unopposed; in District 3, incumbent Roman “Tiger” Abeyta faces Lee Garcia; and in District 4, Amanda Chavez is running against Rebecca Romero.
The city uses ranked-choice voting, so in all races with more than two candidates, voters can rank their choices, top to bottom. A winner emerges when one candidate gets a majority of the votes.
Santa Fe Public Schools has two property tax issues to present to voters — a $100 million general obligation bond to fund capital improvement projects and a request to renew a 1.5 mill levy for facilities maintenance. In position 5, incumbent board President Kate Noble is unopposed, and for position 3, Sascha Guinn Anderson also has no opponent.
At Santa Fe Community College, incumbent Linda Siegle and Xubi Wilson are unopposed for Seats 1 and 4, respectively.
The election also features races for school board in Española, Pojoaque and Moriarty-Edgewood; municipal elections in Edgewood; and water board positions. There’s a lot to consider. Be ready by learning about the issues, the candidates and then, be prepared to vote. Close to home, that vote can make all the difference.