In one district, it is about a city chief in office against a businessman of long time.
In another, it’s a public educator versus a financial analyst.
All four candidates are local. All the best for collaboration. All agree that something needs to be done to stem gun violence, help the homeless and bring the community together in the wake of the fall of a city’s landmark.
When a roughly 75-minute forum for these four Santa Fe City Council candidates – two in District 3 and two in District 4 – ended, it’s fair to say that no one tried to knock a political home run or a knockout blow to a rival.
The Tuesday night event was civil, respectful, even relaxed at times.
The Santa Fe County Women’s Voters’ League event, held in a boardroom in The New Mexican and broadcast live on the newspaper’s website, offered candidates the opportunity to answer a range of questions from city finances and water conservation to the effectiveness of the current board.
District 3 incumbent Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, 48, nearing the end of his initial four-year term, faces a challenger to Lee Garcia, 45, who works with his family business, Garcia Tires, for 22 years. The district covers much of the southern and southwestern parts of the city.
Meanwhile, two newcomers to politics – Rebecca Romero, 37, a management analyst for the state health ministry, and Amanda Chavez, 36, recently appointed director of special education for public schools in Santa Fe – contend for the race for District 4, which encompasses the south-central part of the city.
Current District 4 Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler is stepping down to challenge Mayor Alan Webber in the November 2 election.
Aided, perhaps, by experience, Abeyta clearly expressed the greatest confidence in the work and demonstrated an inside knowledge of the duties of counselors.
Asked by moderator Stephanie Schlanger to assess the council’s job performance, Abeyta said: “Overall the mayor and council are doing very well.” He added that critics tend to forget that city leaders were challenged by the pandemic but still managed to provide fire and police protection and obtain city permits.
Garcia and Romero disagreed, saying more needed to be done. Romero said there was “no confidence” in the governing body, noting that she continually heard from residents of her neighborhood that no one at City Hall was responding to their pleas for help.
On other issues there was often agreement, with all the candidates saying they had to tackle the city’s homeless problem almost individually to find out why a person is homeless and what to do to help them. to find accommodation. .
On the issue of youth violence, Abeyta and Garcia talked about providing more alternative activities for children. Chavez and Romero pushed for greater educational efforts, including in schools, to reach children and adolescents.
“Children need to be more informed and aware of gun safety,” Chavez said.
When asked what they would do if someone gave the city $ 1 million to spend, the contestants approached the answer in different ways.
Chavez said she would invest it in youth programs. Romero said she would prioritize the issue of homelessness, including supporting mental health programs. Garcia said he would invest it in economic and workforce development. Abeyta said he would inject it into an existing initiative that provides single mothers with a monthly stipend of $ 400 so they can afford to take classes at a community college to improve their lot.
All four emphasized their native New Mexico origins and the need to provide more services to the elderly, disenfranchised residents and Spanish speakers.
In his closing statements, Abeyta called on voters to keep him in office, saying “my job is not yet done, our job is not yet done”.
Garcia said he wanted to bring strong financial management skills to the council to ensure the city is in financial shape to deal with the many issues it faces.
Chavez and Romero have both said they want to give District 4 residents a voice.
“I hear you when you tell me no one is listening,” Romero said. “I listen.”
Chavez said that listening was not enough. “We must also show them that we will ask [questions], and I want to do it for this district, ”she said.