Elections in the US are deeply flawed, and offer a limited view of what democracy can mean. Voter turnout is dismally low, particularly in off-year elections like this one. Less than 20,000 people voted in Santa Fe in 2021, with turnout expected to be even lower this year due to the lack of a Mayoral election. This is fundamentally a product of our capitalist society where large moneyed special interests dominate the political system, and make many come to the reasonable conclusion that voting lacks meaningful stakes. Furthermore, thousands of workers and families in Santa Fe are disenfranchised, due to either not being citizens under our broken immigration system, or being disbarred by our racist criminal justice system.
We acknowledge these failures, but we also understand that there are meaningful conflicts that occur in electoral politics, and voting can make a significant difference, either in denying the reactionary far right more political power, or enabling progressive policies driven by mass movements from below.
We therefore offer this voter guide on elections in Santa Fe and the surrounding region included within our chapter boundaries, to help interested voters decide how to navigate the questions that appear on their ballot.
How to use this guide
This guide is divided into different sections, grouped by county, and within each county the different contests on the ballot. Many elections this year are uncontested. For brevity, we have only included contested races.
We distinguish between a “least harm recommendation” and an official chapter endorsement. Chapter endorsements must be approved at general meetings by a membership vote, and generally convey strong support for a candidate’s policy and vision, as well as an interest in actively supporting them through volunteering. We currently have only endorsed one candidate, Alma Castro for Santa Fe City Council District 1, and one ballot initiative, Santa Fe City Ballot Question 1. For other candidates, our recommendation does not suggest overall support of their record or platform.
For Santa Fe County, early voting begins on October 10th. Early voting will be available at the County Clerk’s Office, on Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 5 PM. Starting October 21st, early voting will be expanded to further locations. Election day is on Tuesday, November 7th. Same Day voter registration will be available at every location.
Santa Fe County
The city of Santa Fe is divided into four city council districts, each with two council members. Each council member has a 4 year term, and the elections for each district’s council members are staggered by 2 years. In other words, there are four seats on the city council up for election this year, and the other four will be up for election in two years (2023). Santa Fe will also be having a municipal judge seat up for election, although this year, the seat is uncontested.
Santa Fe city elections used ranked choice voting. This system allows voters to select multiple candidates, in the order of their preference, so that their vote can still have an impact even if their first choice does not win. The only district where there are more than two candidates running is District 1. We do not provide a recommendation for the second, third, or fourth choices on the ballot.
Santa Fe City Council District 1
Endorsed Candidate: Alma Castro
Santa Fe DSA is proud to endorse our member Alma Castro for the District 1 City Council seat. Alma has a long history of fighting for worker’s rights, and she has used her resources and campaign to promote several causes that our chapter has prioritized this year, including strike solidarity with UPS Teamster workers. Alma’s campaign is funded by Santa Fe’s Public Campaign Finance system, which ensures that she is accountable to her constituents, rather than the special interests of New Mexico.
Santa Fe City Council District 2
Least harm recommendation: Michael Garcia
There are two candidates running in this district, incumbent councilman Michael Garcia, and Phil Lucero. Michael Garcia has supported efforts in city council to fund affordable housing and expand participatory democracy in the city. He has also chosen to fund his campaign through Public Campaign financing, while Phil Lucero has elected to fund his campaign through private donations.
Santa Fe City Council District 3
Least harm recommendation: Pilar Faulkner
Due to our previously endorsed candidate, Miguel Acosta, dropping out of this contest, the only two candidates running are Pilar Faulkner, and Louis Carlos. Louis Carlos is a former police captain and is running on a platform espousing reactionary views on social issues. While we are concerned at Pilar Faulkner’s choice to fund her campaign through private donations, her campaign platform is focused on promoting affordable housing development, and improving opportunities for youth employment.
Santa Fe City Council District 4
Least harm recommendation: Jamie Cassut
There are two candidates running in this district, incumbent councilwoman Jamie Cassut, and Joel Nava. Neither candidate has chosen to pursue public campaign financing. However, Jamie Cassut has supported efforts to fund affordable housing in Santa Fe, while Joel Nava is a registered Republican and has espoused several right wing, socially conservative views.
Santa Fe Ballot Question 1: High-End Excise Tax for Affordable Housing
We have endorsed a yes vote on this referendum. Housing affordability in Santa Fe is a crisis, and working class Santa Feans are rapidly being displaced from the city as housing prices have skyrocketed. This measure would impose a 3% excise tax on homes being sold for over $1 million. The revenue from this tax would fund the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which currently lacks a stable revenue source.
Santa Fe Ballot Question 2: Determining Percentages of Voters for Referenda, Initiatives, and Recall Petitions
This ballot question, along with several others listed below, is part of a series of recommendations put forward by the city’s Charter Review Commission, a body authorized every 10 years to evaluate the state of the city’s Charter and propose changes.
This specific ballot question resolves a technical issue in the city’s process for determining signature thresholds. We recommend voting in favor.
Santa Fe Ballot Question 3: Reducing Signature Requirement for Referenda
We recommend voting in favor of this ballot question, which would reduce the threshold of signatures for referenda to 15% of voters in the previous Mayoral elections, from the 33% it currently is. Citizen-sponsored ballot initiatives and referendum in other cities around the country have been a key part of passing progressive legislation.
Santa Fe Ballot Question 4: Reducing Signature Requirement for Initiatives
We recommend voting in favor of this ballot question, for similar reasons described for Ballot Question 3.
Santa Fe Community College Board – At Large
The Santa Fe Community College Board oversees the governance of Santa Fe Community College. There are two candidates running for this seat – Lorenzo Dominguez and Lina S Germann. We currently have no recommendation for this contest.
Santa Fe School Board – District 2
Least harm recommendation: Sarah Boses
There are three candidates running for this seat: incumbent Sarah Boses, and challengers John McKenna and Patricia Ann Vigil-Stockton. Both challenges are running to Boses’ right, with Vigil-Stockton being a Republican running on a deeply reactionary vision for public education, supported by far right organizations such as Moms for Liberty.