One of the biggest mysteries in local politics today is the identity of someone referred to as “Jay Baker” on Facebook – an arson that uses the social media platform to despise Mayor Alan Webber and his administration on a daily basis.
The riddle of the only one in Santa Fe could be harder to solve as more and more people, especially critics of the mayor, wear t-shirts and say, “I’m Jay Baker.”
Eli Bransford, a Santa Fe native who creates YouTube videos highlighting what he calls attacks on the city’s history and culture by “radicals and activists,” said he was not Baker. But he’s helping to sell and distribute the shirts that have become a kind of homework as the mayor’s race nears its final days.
“I don’t know who came up with the idea to make the t-shirts,” said Bransford. “I know it will be one of two people, but unfortunately I can’t reveal their names.”
Bransford said “There’s a pretty good appetite” for the t-shirts.
“There are probably well over 100 kits in circulation,” he said. “I may be a little high, a little low, but my mailbox [on Facebook] illuminated for days. “Hey, I want a shirt. I want a shirt. ‘ Do you know what i had to do I had to pay my daughter to do shirt runs. I was basically like, ‘Okay, honey, here are a couple of shirts. You have to meet all of these addresses. ‘ “
For political junkies and active Facebook users, Baker is a phenomenon. For the average Santa Fean? Probably not so much. But Baker and the posts are widely discussed on social media and have become a part of the city’s political landscape. About two dozen Baker supporters recently attended a mayors’ forum wearing “I am Jay Baker” tees and angry Webber’s campaign team.
Baker and the t-shirt came up during the recent mayoral debate when Webber discovered that some JoAnne Vigil Coppler supporters wore them “throughout the campaign.”
“This mask represents a group who inspired QAnon,” said Webber, referring to a stylized depiction of Guy Fawkes, an English conspirator portrayed as a freedom-struggling hero, on the front of the t-shirt.
“And Jay Baker … attacks me every day, lying about me, my team, my team’s family,” he said and later asked Vigil Coppler if she would urge her followers to disavow these and other types of rhetoric.
“I think you are projecting the problems of your administration on me through this guy or this Ms. Jay Baker,” Vigil Coppler replied. “I have to tell you that I am not Jay Baker. I don’t know who Jay Baker is in this room if there’s a Jay Baker. I don’t know if Jay Baker is three or four or five people. You know, you have to have a lot of time to read Facebook and believe everything you see. “
In an interview with The New Mexican on Facebook, Baker was enigmatic and even refused to say whether the person or people writing the posts is male or female.
“It will all make sense one day,” wrote Baker. “For real.”
Baker denied any association with the shirts, but admitted to approving them for an unidentified person – as long as the profits were used for charity.
“He agreed and the profits should go to the grocery store,” wrote Baker, referring to the Santa Fe grocery bank.
Baker also wrote that there is an appetite for the shirts because “people are frustrated with the state of the city and the unresponsiveness of elected officials at local, state and federal levels.”
“The shirts are their way of saying that enough is enough,” wrote Baker.
Baker’s Facebook profile has drawn a loyal following that includes a number of current and former city employees.
Among them is Carmen Noble, a former city worker who said she recently learned about Baker from a colleague. On the same day, she said she received a text message from her mother saying she was excited to have an “I am Jay Baker” T-shirt delivered to her home.
“I called my mother. I asked, ‘Who is Jay Baker?’ She is everything: ‘Nobody knows. It’s amazing, ‘”Noble said, adding that she asked her mom to buy her a t-shirt that costs $ 20 a piece.
“And then I bought one for my colleague to surprise her because she had just talked about him,” she said.
Noble said she has followed Baker on Facebook ever since. She said she was excited from the start.
“Oh my god, I’m going into a wormhole, so now on the first day I follow him I stay up until midnight to read all the mitotes because they’re good,” she said. “And I’m not going to lie, it’s juicy.”
The mayor himself is one of Baker’s Facebook friends. The same goes for Webber’s campaign manager, Danny Maki, whose wife, city finance director Mary McCoy, and her father Butch Maki were targets of Baker’s posts.
Danny Maki called Baker a cyberbully and said he was just a Facebook friend of Baker who knows what he writes “every time he tags me”.
“I think he makes hateful and hurtful statements,” he said. “I mean, a good friend of mine who is a recovering addict [and a member of Webber’s campaign team], and they aim at him. That can make someone relapse. This is hurtful and hateful stuff. This is really internet bullying. “
Among Baker’s other Facebook friends: Councilor and mayoral candidate JoAnne Vigil Coppler; Councilor Michael Garcia; former District Attorney Marco Serna; and Melissa Mascareñas, former president of the Santa Fe Fiesta Council.
“Thanks Jay Baker!” Mascareñas recently made a post tied to a story about a public record application that she had filed with the city and that the city’s attorney general asked the city to comply with.
“I appreciate your letting the community know how difficult it is to get the city and the prosecutor’s office to obey the law,” she wrote.