Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Hopefuls in Santa Fe City Council District 3 race say expanding services, building senior center priorities

October 9 – Both candidates for District 3 of Santa Fe City Council say they are the right person to help with longstanding challenges such as the lack of services and amenities in the southern and southwestern parts of the city.

Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, who is nearing the end of his four-year term as one of two District 3 councilors, said the city has made progress in recent years and will maintain that momentum into a second term.

“It’s a big priority for me,” Abeyta said. “The district is growing, and that is a very important part of the city.”

Abeyta’s only challenger, City Planning Commissioner Lee Garcia, shared these concerns.

“You see the growth, you see how many people are being driven into this area,” said Garcia. “But you haven’t seen much economic development in this area. One of the biggest things I see about talking to voters is that they feel forgotten. They feel like they are on an island.”

District 3 is the largest, most populous, and fastest growing district in the city. It has historically lagged the other three boroughs in terms of services, although it houses the majority of the city’s working young families, first-time buyers, and children.

Abeyta said bringing more services to the south side not only requires a focused city-level administrator, but someone who understands the interplay between federal, state and local funds.

Abeyta, who previously served as the Santa Fe County district manager, said he believes his experience and the relationships he has built with state and federal officials make him suitable for the role.

He also touts his work with the Santa Fe Boys & Girls Clubs, saying it gives him some insight into some of the issues facing not only District 3 youth but children across town as well.

“I have a lot of experience running the county for years and working with our state legislature,” Abeyta said. “I was able to come in and lobby for federal funding for the youth center. These relationships, you have to have these relationships with these senators and representatives to get these things done. “

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Garcia said his time on the city’s planning committee – his term ends in late December – also provided him with expertise that would help him address District 3’s problems.

“I realize how much experience Abeyta has in public service,” said Garcia. “I just feel like I have the business perspective of being a person who just lives and works and walks among people, not to say Tiger doesn’t. However, I see the fighting day after day . “

Garcia, who works for his family business Garcia Tires and was one of the last council hopes to announce her candidacy, said he joined the race to give District 3 residents an election after Abeyta seemed likely to do without Resistance would arise.

“When you go to the ballot box and only have one candidate to vote, I find it sad,” said Garcia. “So this is the time in my life that I feel I can make a difference. I feel like I can bring some skills to the council.”

Garcia confirmed progress on the south side but said he was interested in finding ways to expedite projects for the district.

The groundbreaking recently broke ground for the 17,000 square foot Southside Teen Center, across from Country Club Road and next to the Santa Fe Boys & Girls Clubs; The origins of this project go back more than a decade before Abeyta took office.

Former councilor Carmichael Dominguez endorsed the construction after the city annexed the Tierra Contenta subdivision.

The project gained momentum in 2018 after Mayor Alan Webber invested $ 1 million in the budget to track the state’s capital expenditures.

Abeyta, one of three councilors backing Webber’s re-election candidacy, has been a constant ally of the mayor and said these working relationships are important in moving forward some projects on the south side.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the city’s plans in the region and he hopes that as the country exits the pandemic, more projects across the city will show initial results.

One of these projects is the completion of the 90 acre Southwest Activity Node (SWAN) park on Jaguar Drive. In 2015, 13.1 hectares of the park opened with the completion of the first of the three project phases.

“We have to take care of it,” Abeyta said as she completed the park.

District 3 has approximately 21 acres of built-up park. In comparison, Districts 1, 2 and 4 each have more than 100 hectares of developed parks; District 1 leads with 157 acres.

The city will likely focus on finding a location in District 3 for a senior citizen center before proceeding with the park. Abeyta said the city is laying the groundwork for the project he considers a priority.

“We don’t have a senior center in District 3,” Abeyta said. “We have them in all the other districts. I work with senior staff on the location search and financing. That will include the city, the state and the federal government. Just like the youth center.”

Garcia said a senior center was “imperative” on the south side.

But he said he didn’t want to turn his attention away from some of the other problems District 3 is facing, including crime and the lack of parks and shopping malls.

He said he was open to bringing these changes to the governing body.

“People feel that their voices are not being heard,” said Garcia. “How can we change that? Well, you get involved. That’s what I do. I get involved.”

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