Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

3 candidates for Santa Fe mayor clash at public forum | Texas

SANTA FE, NM (AP) – Santa Fe’s incumbent entrepreneur who became mayor defended his handling of conflicts over historical monuments and running a COVID-battered economy on Monday at a candidate forum amid harsh criticism from two Latina challengers.

Mayor Alan Webber is challenged by Democrat and Councilor Joann Vigil Coppler, who highlighted her difficult local upbringing in a Hispanic family and her long experience in public administration and finance in the hour-long debate.

Vigil Coppler accused Webber of poorly managing the city’s finances and neglecting the commitments of rocket parks and recreations with long delayed repairs to an outdoor swimming pool. Webber claimed not only to fill potholes, but also to make Santa Fe a closely watched testing ground for a universal basic income by offering guaranteed monthly payments to 100 young parents while they attended Santa Fe Community College.

Vigil Coppler and Republican candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson criticized the mayor’s response last year when a stormy crowd toppled a downtown memorial depicting Union soldiers who died fighting indigenous tribes and Confederate soldiers.

The events in Santa Fe’s historic central square have sparked criticism of the mayor by several brother orders, including advocacy for local Hispanic pride and heritage.

When the memorial was toppled in October 2020, many police officers left the area to prevent physical violence, the mayor said. At least eight people were later charged with the destruction, seven of whom were participating in a diversion program, which includes a community service that will save them prison time.

At the forum on Monday, Webber and Vigil Coppler gave conflicting reports about the action that day – and what it meant.

“I never should have ordered the police to resign and it is clear that the order came from the mayor,” said Vigil Coppler. “We just saw our culture … what we’re used to on the pitch just fades away.”

Webber said he didn’t dictate the police’s response, but noted that previous councilors and mayors had advocated the removal of the obelisk, which some Native Americans are abusing.

“The mayor does not order the chief of police or any other police officer to resign. It’s just wrong and inaccurate, ”said Webber.

He said the city eventually evaded all major civil unrest.

“Nobody was killed,” said Webber, paraphrasing comments he had heard. “Everyone went home safely, there was no tear gas hanging over the square. No windows were broken. … people were quoted for their illegal behavior. “

At the same time, all three candidates said the city’s ongoing truth and reconciliation process in terms of culture and history is worth it, amid a national conversation about public markings paying tribute to historical figures related to racism, slavery and genocide.

During Webber’s tenure, Santa Fe set up an annual reenactment of the return of Spanish settlers 12 years after the Pueblo Indian revolt of 1680.

Webber, who won the election as the first candidate for public office in 2018, is best known as a publishing entrepreneur and founder of Fast Times Magazine.

He is seeking a second term after leading New Mexico’s fastest growing metropolis through the pandemic and state emergency health ordinances that all but shut down the crucial hospitality and tourism industries.

Vigil Coppler, elected to Santa Fe City Council in 2018, has stood up as a seasoned public administrator for the mayor who previously served as Santa Fe Human Resources Director from previous positions in the state courts, state government and Los Alamos district.

The round table-style discussion, sponsored by the Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Drury Hotel, has been moved to a remote online format in response to concerns about the coronavirus.

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