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Realtors’ poll: Santa Feans split on city’s direction, mayor’s performance

SANTA FE — People generally love living in Santa Fe, according to a poll results conducted released Tuesday by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, but there’s “tension underneath” with more people thinking the city is headed in the wrong direction than thought so four years ago.

The 400 people surveyed earlier this month were evenly split on which way Santa Fe is going — 45 percent said the city is headed in the right direction and 44 percent said Santa Fe is on the wrong track.

In 2013, when the Realtors last commissioned a poll, the split was 51 percent right direction to 36 percent wrong track.

The negative view was strongest among voters without a college degree, especially non-Anglos and women. The poll shows that while 32 percent of Anglos said they felt the city was on the wrong track, nearly twice as many Hispanics— 63 percent — thought so.

But Joe Goode of the non-profit American Strategies polling firm that conducted the telephone poll of  likely voters in the 2018 general election, said he wouldn’t call that a racial divide.

“I think it has more to do with economic status, and not necessarily a distinction between Hispanic and whites,” he said during a news conference via telephone. “I think it’s probably more an educational divide than a racial divide.”

Donna Reynolds, government affairs director for the Realtors Association, said the poll may reflect a “sense of unrest” in the community resulting from May’s special election on imposing a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Proposed by Mayor Javier Gonzales as a source of funding for pre-K programs in Santa Fe, the ballot question was soundly defeated after campaign spending by opponents and supporters that totaled more than $4 million.

“There could be some spill over from that,” Reynolds said of the election, which she called “divisive.”

The telephone poll was conducted Aug. 7-10 and has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Seventy percent of those polled rated Santa Fe’s quality of life as either “excellent” (24 percent) or “good” (46 percent), while 23 percent said it was “just fair” and 7 percent rated it as “poor.”

“These are very good scores,” said Goode, whose company has conducted numerous similar polls in other cities.

The poll also asked respondents to rate the job performance of Mayor Gonzales and that of the City Council. Respondents were split. Slightly more than half rated Gonzales’ performance as “excellent” or “good” (13 percent “excellent,” 38 percent “good”), while 49 percent ranked him “just fair” (29 percent) or poor (20 percent).

That’s better than the rating the City Council received, with only 38 percent rating its performance as “good” or “excellent” (3 percent “excellent” and 35 percent “good”).

Goode said that when asked about the “biggest issue” for Santa Fe,  those surveyed most often mentioned jobs/economy, education/schools, roads/infrastructure, and city services/maintenance/parks, each of which were mentioned by more than 10 percent of people polled.

“That is where they’d like to see the focus by the mayor and City Council,” he said.

But when provided a list of possible “top priorities,” protecting the environment and fighting crime jumped up to second and third after economic issues.

“It’s always interesting to see this kind of feedback, but more than anything I’m reassured that our priorities and our work to diversify the economy, invest in small businesses to create jobs, expand access to education and the workforce, and address our housing challenges line up really well with what our people want to see,” Gonzales said in a statement.

“We have made progress, but there is much more work to be done to expand access to good careers, affordable housing, and a strong quality of life for Santa Feans in every neighborhood, and we’ll stay focused moving forward.”

Other findings from the poll included:

  • Voters are more open to development than they were 2013, with a 9-point jump in the percentage of people who say commercial growth is happening too slowly, from 34 percent to 43 percent.
  • Nearly two-thirds favored new zoning rules to stimulate housing and development along the St. Michael’s corridor, with one-quarter of them strongly in favor.
  • Voters want candidates who support job creation, government transparency, public safety, and a more efficient city government.