Longtime Santa Fe City Councilor Patti Bushee jumped into the mayoral fray Thursday by formally announcing that she plans to run for the city’s highest elected office in 2014.
“I am very prepared at this point in my public service to provide the leadership Santa Fe needs right now,” Bushee told the Journal in an interview this week.
Bushee described herself as a “strong, progressive social liberal” working for “positive, proactive change.” With nearly two decades of service on the city council, Bushee said she can hit the ground running as mayor and “I really do feel I wouldn’t miss a beat.”
Bushee is no stranger to the mayoral contest. She ran for the position in 2002 but was defeated by incumbent Mayor Larry Delgado.
“I’ve learned from that run and I think I know now what it takes a little better to actually run a city,” she said.
Bushee said she decided to seek the office once again after current Mayor David Coss said last week that he won’t run for a third term.
“Folks have been asking me for the last couple years to consider it and I was just getting used to the fact that (Coss) was looking for a third term and I wasn’t going to consider it. I was happy to go to my cabin in the woods,” she said.
“It’s flattering that people have confidence in you, but really I think it’s more to continue work we have done,” she added.
Bushee said she still hasn’t decided whether she’ll participate in the city’s relatively new public campaign finance system.
“I believe in taking big money out of politics but I know the limitations of” the $60,000 allocated to mayoral contenders who qualify for funding.
Bushee came to New Mexico in her early 20s after graduating from the University of Maine. Over the decades she’s run her own landscaping company, Ladybug Landscaping. Until recently, she also spent several years working for New Mexico’s Film Office and the Office of the State Engineer.
In 1994 Bushee was appointed to finish out the council term of Debbie Jaramillo when Jaramillo was elected Santa Fe’s first female mayor.
She won election to a full term in 1996, running and winning again in 2000, 2004 and 2008. Voters re-elected her in 2012 with a decisive 66.9 percent of the vote.
“I really do hear from people that I have been a strong leader and I think I am a progressive, bold thinker and I provide a vision and I act on it to the best of my ability,” Bushee said.
“I think people have really come to count on that and that I will stand up for those that can’t and I will be fair and I will be open and transparent. I’m not really in it for any personal gain. I’m just really dedicated to the city,” she continued.
As she moves forward with her campaign, public safety, economic and workforce development and water issues will be a focus for Bushee, as is continuing to provide strong services and amenities for residents.
Citing some accomplishments, Bushee said she’s proud of helping implement the city’s DWI forfeiture program targeting repeat drunken drivers as well as what eventually became the Early Neighborhood Notification Act, which requires developers to meet with residents before starting the city approval process. She also noted her support of Santa Fe’s living wage, affordable housing laws, water conservation efforts and transparency in local government.
“There’s just so many things I’ve worked on over the years that I’m proud of. I want to try and continue to improve the quality of life for all Santa Feans,” she said.
More recently, Bushee, who is openly gay, sponsored a city resolution declaring gay marriage legal in New Mexico and urging county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.