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Gonzales wins big in Santa Fe mayoral race

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Javier Gonzales, the former state Democratic Party chairman making a return to electoral politics in his hometown, will be Santa Fe’s new mayor after winning by a substantial margin over two well-known opponents in Tuesday’s election.

Javier Gonzales, left, gets a hug from Santa fe Mayor David Coss after it became clear that Gonzales had won the three-candidate race to succeed Coss as mayor. Gonzales' election party was at the Hotel Santa Fe, (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Javier Gonzales, left, gets a hug from Santa fe Mayor David Coss after it became clear that Gonzales had won the three-candidate race to succeed Coss as mayor. Gonzales’ election party was at the Hotel Santa Fe, (Eddie Moore/Journal)

Gonzales took more than 43 percent of the vote in the three way race that also included City Councilors Bill Dimas and Patti Bushee — who both will retain their council seats as Gonzales takes over as mayor. “This campaign was never about me, it was about us,” Gonzales told supporters late Tuesday night. He thanked incumbent mayor David Coss and a host of past and present city councilors who supported him.

“I stand before you humble … I am ready to accept the responsibility and honor of being your mayor,” said Gonzales, as cheers of “Javier” filled the crowded ballroom at the Hotel Santa Fe.

The crowd was dancing, high-fiving and blowing each other kisses and only got louder when Gonzales, a former Santa Fe County commissioner, entered the ballroom shortly before his victory was officially declared. Coss said, “I’m very, very happy. He’s going to be a great mayor for our town. I thought he ran a fantastic campaign and reached out to thousands of people … I thought he had a very positive message.”

After his victory was official in the tough race, Gonzales said, “I certainly want to express my commitment to working with councilors Dimas and Bushee” and the new City Council, which will include two new members. Bushee got 28.7 percent of the vote in the complete, unofficial returns, just higher than Dimas’ 28 percent.

Also in the election:

- Sig Lindell in District 1, Joseph Maestas in District 2 and incumbent Carmichael Dominguez in District 3 won contested races for City Council seats.Incumbent Ron Trujillo in District 4 was unopposed. Lindell will replace outgoing Councilor Chris Calvert and Maestas takes over the seat of Rebecca Wurzburger, also leaving the council after a temporary entry into the mayor’s race.

- Voters approved all nine proposed amendments to the city charter, including the so-called “strong mayor” proposal to make the job full-time with more pay, more power and more responsibility.Also approved were allowing the mayor to vote on all items before the council, instead of just to break a tie; creating independent auditing and council redistricting boards; and establishing “the rights of all to earn a living wage.”

About 9:30 p.m., Bushee — who competed with Gonzales for Santa Fe’s progressive votes but lost out on key endorsements from traditional liberal and Democratic Party support groups — gave what amounted to a concession speech to a crowd of about 80 supporters at the Osteria d’ assisi restaurant.

Javier Gonzales hugs his daughters Cameron, 15, and Cadence, 9, after giving a victory speech as the votes showed he'd won the mayor's race  Santa Fe. His election party was held at the Hotel Santa Fe, (Eddie Moore/Journa)

Javier Gonzales hugs his daughters Cameron, 15, and Cadence, 9, after giving a victory speech as the votes showed he’d won the mayor’s race Santa Fe. His election party was held at the Hotel Santa Fe, (Eddie Moore/Journa)

Adorned with a long string of Mardi Gras beads, Bushee said that she and Dimas had to overcome both Gonzales’ campaign and the political action committees that supported him by putting big bucks into the campaign. “We have been running against a serious political machine. We were true,” she said. “He (Gonzales) had the advantage of spending twice as much with the PACs. We were one campaign and he was two.” Dimas couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday night. Gonzales, with his Democratic Party connections and community roots that include his father’s tenure as mayor from 1968-1972, was considered a strong contender as soon as he announced as a candidate for mayor last year. But he drew criticism as two political action committees and a national AFL-CIO affiliate came in to support him in the non-partisan race.

Santa Fe election unofficial results

Santa Fe election unofficial results

The pro-Gonzales groups reported spending $57,700 through Sunday. That’s nearly as much as the $60,000 in taxpayer dollars that Gonzales, Bushee and Dimas, each received for their campaigns under Santa Fe’s public campaign financing system, used in a mayor’s race for the first time this year. Gonzales’ opponents and the Common Cause good government group criticized the PAC spending as defeating the purpose of public financing, intended to “level the playing field” and keep big money out of local races.

Gonzales, while saying he didn’t want and had nothing to do with the PAC support, defended the outside groups’ right to participate in the election. There is no legal prohibition on spending by groups like PACs. In what almost certainly a first in New Mexico, two of the mayoral candidates were openly gay — Bushee has been “out” since before she entered public life two decades ago and Gonzales declared he was gay last year.

Their sexual orientation wasn’t an issue, at least publicly. While Bushee and Gonzales fought over issues like commitment to Santa Fe’s local “living wage” of $10.66 and hour, and there were ethics complaints filed against each of them (both ruled unfounded by the city’s ethics board), Dimas stayed quietly out of the fray, bypassing public candidate forums and staking out more conservative positions.       ——————————————————————————————————————————————- Javier Gonzales, the former state Democratic Party chairman, won the Santa Fe mayoral election, final, unofficial totals show. Gonzales tallied 7,369 votes, to 4,883 for City Councilor Patti Bushee and 4,764 for Councilor Bill Dimas, according to the city clerk’s office. ———————————————————————————————————————————————— Javier Gonzales   former state Democratic Party chair, former Santa Fe County Commissioner and vice president of a national commercial real estate company -  looks like he iike he’s headed for a big win in the race for Santa Fe mayor.

Javier Gonzales appears headed for a big win in the Santa Fe mayor's race.

Javier Gonzales appears headed for a big win in the Santa Fe mayor’s race.

He has won all of several precincts with tallies already announced by the city clerk’s office as of about 8:30 p.m. And at Gonzales’ campaign party at the Hotel Santa Fe, numbers posted show Gonzales already the winner, in what an official in the Gonzales campaign said were final, total, unofficial numbers. Gonzales’ own count shows Gonzales with 6,343 votes, or 41.6 percent; 4,815, or 31.1 percent, for Councilor Bill Dimas; and 4,209 votes, or 27.2 percent for Councilor Patti Bushee. Early returns from the city clerk’s office show Sig Lindell ahead of Michael Segura in the City Council District 1 race; Joseph Maestas leading among five candidates in District 2; and Marie Campos ahead of incumbent Carmichael Dominguez in District. District 4 Councilor Ron Trujillo is unopposed. Also, so far voters have supported all nine proposed city charter amendments, including the so-called “strong mayor” proposal to make the job full time with pay starting at $74,000, along with more power over top city administrator positions and more responsibilities in proposing an annual budget and a legislative agenda.

Santa Fe election unofficial results

Santa Fe election unofficial results

SANTA FE CHARTER AMENDMENTS
Amendment 1
Requiring City Council to “protect, preserve and enhance” water resources. 
FOR 13,933
Against 2,415

Amendment 2
Establishing a policy supporting neighborhood preservation.
FOR 12,009
Against 3,842
Amendment 3
Establishing a policy supporting local business, entrepreneurial spirit and the right to earn a living wage.
FOR 12,974
AGAINST 3,264

Amendment 4
Establishing an independent commission to redraw council districts after the decennial census.
FOR 11,752
AGAINST 3,771

Amendment 5
Requiring limits on campaign contributions in city elections.
FOR 13,953
AGAINST 2,204

Amendment 6
Requiring timely information on uses of revenues generated by proposed tax increases or bond issues requiring voter approval.
FOR 13,668
AGAINST 2,156

Amendment 7
Establishing an independent audit committee.
FOR 13,038
AGAINST 2,617

Amendment 8
Authorizing the mayor to vote on all matters before the City Council (mayor now votes only to break a tie).
FOR 12,282
AGAINST 3,836

Amendment 9
Making the mayor’s job full time with a salary of $74,000, with future pay set by a salary commission; giving the mayor supervisory authority over and authority to fire the city manager, city attorney and city clerk; and requiring the mayor to propose an annual budget and annual legislative agenda.
FOR 9,392
AGAINST 6,772

SANTA FE
Mayor 
Bill Dimas     4,764
Patti Bushee 4,883
Javier Gonzales 7,369

District  1 Councilor
Signe Lindell 3,533
Michael Segura 1,527

District 2 Councilor
Joe Arrellano 972
Joseph Maestas 1,498
Mary Louise Bonney 619
Rad Acton 1,112
Jeff Green 204

District 3 Councilor
Carmichael Dominguez (i)1,140
Angelo Jaramillo 439
Marie Campos 933

District 4 Councilor
Ron Trujillo (i)3,103
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