The Santa Fe municipal election won’t happen for months — Nov. 2 to be exact. But decisions made in the next days or weeks will have profound implications for the sorts of choices voters will have come election time.
That’s because anyone who wants to run for a seat on the City Council or for the job of mayor needs to qualify this summer. Candidate packets have been available since May 3. Now, candidates have to deliver nominating petitions to ensure their spot on the ballot. And time is running out.
Anyone who hopes to use public financing must file petitions by Monday with the City Clerk’s Office. To qualify, mayoral candidates must collect $5 from 600 eligible city voters; councilor candidates need $5 apiece from 150 voters registered to vote in their council district.
Candidates who plan to use private dollars have until Aug. 24 to file with the clerk, giving late deciders a little more time to make up their minds.
While we won’t say the more the merrier, competitive races work to sharpen issues and focus. They are good for democracy.
In Santa Fe, the election happens through ranked choice voting, a sort of instant runoff that ensures whoever wins has a majority of support.
Ranked choice voting allows voters in races with more than two candidates to select not just one favorite but to rank the candidates in order of preference. Voters also can choose just one favorite. It’s up to each voter.
Regardless of how voters decide to mark their ballots, we want them to have choices.
Different candidates tend to air a diverse number of concerns — everything from how to secure a long-term water supply, deal with growth, develop the midtown campus, help people who lack shelter and deliver standard city services in a timely, efficient manner.
We’d love to hear from council candidates their views on more efficient cleaning and maintenance of parks, medians and other public spaces. Others might have plans to improve pedestrian safety and ensure Santa Fe is friendlier for people who walk or bike for transportation. Of course, there will be discussions on what should happen in the center of the Plaza — whether to replace or to rebuild the toppled obelisk — and how the city can heal after the many tensions of the past months.
Much remains for voters and candidates to discuss.
Santa Fe needs candidates who can speak in specifics about problems, offer solutions and forcefully debate the issues without being rude. This is not a time to speak in platitudes but to lay out how to run city government with the needs of residents first and foremost.
First, we need candidates.
Mayor Alan Webber is seeking reelection, with Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler and former congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson opposing him.
Incumbent Councilor Signe Lindell definitely has competition in District 1 — businessman Joe Hoback, planning commissioner and tow shop owner Brian Gutierrez and real estate agent Roger Carson all have picked up candidate packets.
In District 3, incumbent Roman Abeyta could be facing local businessman Lee Garcia, while the open seat in District 4 is attracting interest from educator Amanda Chavez, Department of Health employee Rebecca Romero and County Assessor Gus Martinez. So far, District 2 incumbent Carol Romero-Wirth, who is seeking her second term, has no opposition.
We’d love to see competitive races in each council district, even if it turns out incumbents deserve reelection. Vigorous and informed debate drives up turnout and leads to innovative solutions — the ones people in office might have missed.
Elections need to be about solutions, not personal popularity. That’s how we plan our future — together.