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Race for Mayor: Ron Trujillo: ‘You have to have the passion and love for SF’

Copyright © 2018 Albuquerque Journal

“If you’re going to run for mayor of Santa Fe,” says mayoral candidate Ron Trujillo, “you have to have the passion and you have to have the love for Santa Fe, and I have it.”

No one doubts Trujillo’s love and passion for Santa Fe. Just listening to him, his hometown pride shines through.

“I was born and raised here, and I’m proud of it,” he said during a recent interview. “I grew up in the Bellamah subdivision, where I still reside. I went to Kearny Elementary, de Vargas Middle School and Santa Fe High. I played football and baseball for the Demons. Graduated in 1986.”

He’s proud of the city’s culture and traditions, honored to have played the role of Don Diego de Vargas during the performance of the Entrada during Santa Fe Fiesta in 1994 and of serving as grand marshal at the gay Pride Parade last September.

“It wasn’t a ‘look at me’ thing,” he said of his appearance as grand marshal, which came at the invitation of event organizers. “Me and my wife have been going to it for years. It’s awesome.”

Trujillo says he has probably seen every nook and cranny of Santa Fe, having spent all his life here, except for a stint in Las Cruces attending New Mexico State University.

“Even during that time in my life, my father was ill with cancer, so I was back here a lot on weekends until his untimely passing,” he said, adding that “not a day goes by” that he doesn’t think about his father, Onesimo.

Trujillo, 49, was 19 when his father died. His mother, Edwina, still lives in Santa Fe.

He never did finish college. He came back to Santa Fe instead, worked a few odd jobs before landing a job with the state. For the past 15 years, he has worked for the Department of Transportation’s Fleet Management Bureau, now serving as a line manager.

“All vehicles that are purchased for DOT come through our office,” he explained. “We do the specs, make sure they’ve got the right equipment and ship them out to the districts.”

No doubt, part of Trujillo’s local appeal stems from being born and raised here, his involvement in youth sports as a coach and referee, his involvement in PTCs (Parent Teacher Coalitions) at his children’s schools, various boards and the 12 years he has spent on the City Council. He knows a lot of people, and a lot of people know him.

Needing roughly 270 nominating signatures to get his name on the ballot for mayor in the March 6 election, Trujillo turned in more than 1,200. Needing 600 $5.00 contributions to qualify for public campaign financing, he submitted more than 1,100.

Though none of that means anything on March 6, the fact that he has the endorsement of the local AFSCME chapter that represents city workers might. So, too, might the fact that he was the only city councilor to vote against holding an election to impose a so-called “soda tax,” a proposal that was defeated by 58 percent of voters.

Not surprisingly, Trujillo married a local girl. His wife of 20 years, Amber Espinosa-Trujillo, is also a state employee.

“The neat thing is we met at a political party,” Trujillo said of the fundraising event for Jerome Block Sr., who was then running for a position on the Corporation Commission, which later became the Public Regulation Commission. “We’ve been together ever since.”

One might say she’s his “running mate.”

“Me and my wife are a team. We’ve always been,” he said.

Amber has been active in his campaign. Last Sunday, she hosted a “high tea” at the Eagles Club to promote her husband’s campaign.

City Councilor Ron Trujillo, second from right, poses for a celebratory photo the night of May 2, after returns in a special election showed defeat of a proposed soda tax. Trujillo was the only councilor to vote against putting the tax on the ballot. In the photo, Trujillo’s wife, Amber Espinosa-Trujillo, snaps the picture that also included, from left, Victor Romero, Loveless Johnson III and Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce president Simon Brackley. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

“We want the ladies here in Santa Fe to know who I am, understand my passion for the city, and what my goals are for the city,” he said. “And who better to hear from than my best friend for the past 26 years, my wife. She’s my rock. She knows me inside and out.”

The candidate says his wife is a sounding board for him.

“We’ll sit and have discussions on issues,” he said. “We don’t agree on all the issues, but throughout my campaign, I’ve talked about opening up the dialogue. That’s the great thing about me and my wife. We have that dialogue.”

The couple has two children. Their son, Hunter, is a sophomore at New Mexico State. Daughter Krystianna is a freshman at Santa Fe Community College.

Children, not just his children, are important to Trujillo. He often talks about finding things for children to do in Santa Fe.

“This is the thing I want to bring back to the community – a sense of family, community,” he said. “There has to be an outlet where kids can go.”

When he was a kid, parks were enough.

“When I was growing up playing ball in the ’70s and early ’80s, we had pristine ball fields,” he said. “I first ran for City Council because District 4 wasn’t getting the attention it needed. The parks were deteriorating.”

Parks are still important to him, he said during a mayoral candidate forum. The question centered around the $30.3 million parks bond approved by voters in 2008, an audit of which found $2 million of it improperly spent. But not in District 4, he insisted.

“Money was spent right. Because I was on top of it every day,” he said.

But parks are only part of it. Trujillo would like to see a bowling alley or an amusement park, or some other attraction for children to come to Santa Fe.

“Everybody knows I brought the Santa Fe Fuego here,” Trujillo said of the Pecos League semi-pro baseball team. “I brought that as a form of entertainment. That’s what I see lacking here in this community, and I especially see it with our kids.”

A proud supporter of the Fuego, Trujillo can often be found at Fort Marcy Park on summer nights root, root, rooting for his hometown team.


AGE: 49

EDUCATION: 1986 Santa Fe High graduate, attended Santa Fe Community College and New Mexico State University.

OCCUPATION: Line Manager, New Mexico Department of Transportation Fleet Management Bureau; Santa Fe city councilor representing District 4.

1. Why are you running for mayor? What distinguishes you from your opponents?

I have a passion for the City of Santa Fe. I have lived here all my life, am raising my family here, and have served as a public servant for the city for the past 12 years. The city is at a crossroads where strong governance and leadership in governance is needed, which distinguishes me from others running for mayor.

2. What is the biggest issue facing city government and how would you address it?

The process of running the city is broken. Process transparency, due diligence and engagement of all stakeholders – the difficult issues facing the city require strong governmental leadership that will address how to govern and solve issues appropriately. Our critical issues cannot be solved with only a business approach, but rather by a combined experience of management and government.

3. How would you encourage more affordable housing in Santa Fe? Do you support development of more rental apartments in town?

Despite a definition of “affordability” as provided in City of Santa Fe Resolution 2015-65, special interest groups still do not seem to agree on what “affordable” housing means. What may be affordable to one resident may not be affordable to another. We must abide by the Resident’s Bill of Rights we passed in 2015 and work toward its implementation.

4. What uses would you support for the city-owned campus of the Santa Fe University of Art and Design, which the school is vacating?

We need to consider many options, such as affordable housing, student housing to include families, community common space, such as gardens, or a centrally located economic development center as potential uses. The SFUAD property is an asset and as such we must apply the appropriate due process to maximize its potential use for the people here in Santa Fe.

5. Do you support the city’s living wage ordinance – which currently sets the minimum wage at $11.09 per hour – and its mandatory annual cost of living increases?

Yes. We need to continue to address affordability in the city. We cannot only focus on affordability of housing by building more homes; we must also focus on providing much-needed sustainable income and benefits to keep residents in Santa Fe and in their homes, thus insuring that our economy stays strong.

6. Did you vote in the May “soda tax” election? If so, did you vote for or against it? Please explain your vote or your opinion of the failed tax proposal.

I was the only leader in city government that voted against this poorly thought out, special interest-generated, failed tax against the people of Santa Fe. This was a perfect example of noblesse oblige, where certain groups assumed the working class needed help with little regard or input from the population that would be directly affected. Not when I’m mayor. 7. Should the city continue to grant a permit and provide police support for the annual Entrada event held on the Plaza that is opposed by Native Americans and others?

Our history is complex and diverse, and the entire history needs to be told without diminishing or disregarding the full story of Santa Fe. Entrada should stay faithful to all our histories and include the true depictions of our past. The city should follow its standard practices of permitting and a police presence, as occurs in all events.

1. Have you or your business – if you are a business owner – ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No. 2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No. 3 . Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony? No.

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