The election for mayor on Nov. 2 will soon be upon us. Mayor Alan Webber is our first full-time, “strong” mayor with never-before held authority to hire, fire and supervise the city manager, city attorney and city clerk. I had high hopes for Webber, but I will not be voting for him again. His priorities are misdirected, and the city has declined under his leadership.
- The Santa Fe University of Art and Design closed two months into the mayor’s term. Today the $30 million campus remains vacant with the exception of homeless people living in the dorms. Community input meetings were held in 2018 and again last month. While the campus infrastructure is decaying from neglect, we are no closer to having a plan for the midtown campus than when the mayor took office.
- Swimming pool closures have plagued the city. The kiddie pool at Genoveva Chavez Community Center and Bicentennial Pool were both closed for repairs over the summer while kids were on vacation. Salvador Perez and Fort Marcy pools were closed simultaneously for months during 2019. These closures demonstrate poor planning and a disregard for their impact on the community.
- The city’s malfunctioning sewage treatment plant, originally constructed in 1963, releases sewage-tainted effluent down the Santa Fe River and cannot reliably deliver treated water to Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe golf course. The need to replace it has been swept aside.
- The mayor has had three city managers in his three years, four months in office despite being the first mayor to recruit and hire his choice for city manager. Turnover suggests underlying problems. Reports of poor morale among city employees abound.
- The city of Santa Fe’s filing of its financial statements with the state auditor is late for the second year in a row.
- The New Mexican reported March 5 that the Santa Fe Police Department has the highest number of vacancies in five years. An old problem that is worse than ever.
- The mayor was warned well before the obelisk was vandalized that there were credible threats of such action. Yet the obelisk was left in place, and today we have a big, tan, plywood box in the center of the Plaza. The mayor has hired a consulting firm for $250,000 to initiate the CHART (culture, history, art, reconciliation, truth) process.
Webber focuses on solving interminable social problems like homelessness and truth and reconciliation, noble but elusive goals. But he is failing at delivering basic city services such as road maintenance, fully staffed and operating recreation centers, business development of the midtown campus, capital improvements and funding law enforcement. These issues have been with us since the mayor took office and, in my view, have gotten worse during his term.
I would like our next mayor to focus on rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure and improving city services. We cannot slap Band-Aids on our infrastructure forever. I’d like to see our cellphone service upgraded, recreation centers fully staffed, parks clean, finances audited on time, roads paved and police force fully staffed. I’d like action plans for major projects like replacing the sewage treatment plant and developing the midtown campus. The current state of affairs in Santa Fe is unacceptable. Judge the mayor on his results when you vote in November.