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Two-way race features familiar faces

SANTA FE, N.M. — Santa Fe’s City Council races this year are full of political newcomers, but both candidates for District 1 are familiar names on the ballot; one is the only council incumbent running for re-election this year and the other is seeking a City Council seat for the fourth time.

Signe Lindell

Signe Lindell, a retired professor, business owner and Realtor, says she feels compelled to finish ongoing initiatives from her first term and that she enjoys the constant problem-solving opportunities that come with the position.

Santa Fe is where Lindell first became involved in local government. Shortly after she moved here around 2000, former Mayor Larry Delgado appointed Lindell to the former Rules and Ethics Committee. Prior to her election to the council, she also served on the Planning Commission from 2006-14.

Lindell grew up in western New York on a dairy farm before leaving for college, eventually earning her doctorate in education from West Virginia University at 25. She then became a professor at Kent State University, specializing in teaching how to establish employee assistance programs for health and safety in the workplace.

During her teaching days, Lindell had a summer home in Montezuma Canyon near Las Vegas, N.M. She officially moved to New Mexico in 1984, leaving academia to open a sign shop in Albuquerque.

“I was never really driven by fear,” she said. “I had an education, I knew I could make a living, and I felt I had a lot of opportunity.”

After relocating to Santa Fe, she started selling real estate with her partner of now more than 20 years, Maria Sanchez. They later ended up working at the local housing nonprofit Homewise from 2005-08.

Now retired, Lindell says she’s able to treat the councilor position as a full-time job. And with four years’ experience, she says she is past the difficult learning curve that comes with the work.

Emphasizing her business background, which drives her to prioritize the city’s financial decisions, Lindell said one of the key pieces of legislation she has brought forward in the past four years was the creation of policy that the city cannot expand or create programs without first identifying a funding source.

“I’ve had a lifetime of experience of signing the front of the check instead of the back of the check,” she said. “It’s probably made me more fiscally inquisitive.”

Last year, Lindell was the sponsor of a high-profile measure adopted by the council that bans wild and exotic animal acts, such as those including elephants, tigers or bears at circuses, within city limits.

But Lindell said her most important successes were in the “behind-the-scenes” work of problem-solving, and establishing relationships with fellow councilors and city employees.

She added that all three incumbents councilors who will definitely be sitting on the council after the March elections – Renee Villarreal, Mike Harris and Chris Rivera – have endorsed her. “That tells me that they like working with me,” Lindell said.

(Three of the eight councilors are giving up their seats – Joseph Maestas and Ron Trujillo, who are running for mayor, and Carmichael Dominguez. Councilor Peter Ives is also running for mayor, but he’s in the middle of a four-year term and will retain his council seat if he’s not elected mayor. The seats held by Villarreal, Harris and Rivera are not on the ballot this year.)

Lindell and Sanchez volunteer monthly at the Food Depot, rebagging dog and cat food, and remain active with other community organizations by attending events for Planned Parenthood, Gerard’s House, Youthworks and more.

Lindell stressed the importance of maintaining relationships within city government and trying to do the same thing with the public by staying involved in local organizations and keeping up with constituents.

“It’s all about relationships,” she said.

Passion for tradition

Lindell’s opponent, Marie Campos, has been vocal about her passion for sustaining tradition and culture since she first entered the political arena in 2012. She ran twice in south Santa Fe’s District 3 before, she says, her residence was rezoned into District 1. She last ran in 2016 in District 1 against Councilor Villareal and two others, coming in fourth and receiving 9 percent of the vote.

Marie Campos

After that, Campos said, she had “divorced” herself from politics. She mentions suspicions about past election practices in Santa Fe and what she called “skewed” voting results in 2016, though she didn’t take concerns to the City Clerk’s Office.

Campos said a group of supporters who were encouraged by the results of last year’s vote to reject a Santa Fe soda tax in a May special election urged her to run again this year.

The artist and nonprofit and development organizer has family ties to Santa Fe, but was born in California and mostly grew up in Kansas City, Mo. Her grandfather ended up there as a lineman on the Santa Fe Railroad.

She moved here 20 years ago with her father and two children, now 30 and 25.

Campos said her local nonprofit and development work stems from her time as a research associate for Pre-Award Services at the University of Missouri. After moving to the City Different, she most notably founded the Native Hispanic Institute in 2002, an organization that was created to preserve and unite the “mix of cultures” that exists in northern New Mexico among people, with the goal of showing commonalities between Native Americans and local Hispanics.

“My focus has been on cultural preservation and keeping our traditions,” Campos said. “I’ve worked with a lot of the traditional communities throughout New Mexico, tribal and non-tribal.”

Today, she works for the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute Board of Regents managing the college’s Family Education and Extension Program, which she said focuses on tribal outreach within Native communities. It does this through educational programs, workshops and other activities. She is also president of the La Cieneguita neighborhood association.

In 2002, she earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts with an emphasis on painting and graphics from Excelsior College based in Albany, N.Y. Two years later, she earned a master’s from St. John’s College in Santa Fe.

She says her nonprofit experiences would benefit her if elected because they provide her with knowledge in areas including community-building, finance and law. “A little bit of pretty much everything in order to pull together grants, and create and design programs that can work and function in the community,” she said.

In addition to pottery exchanges with local tribes and a project to provide Navajo women with resources to make and sell traditional quilts, the Native Hispanic Institute is known for its Chimayó Chile Project. Campos began that program in 2005, aiming to revitalize the area’s chile industry by preserving the Chimayó chile seed and establishing farming jobs.

In 2006, Campos and the project received criticism, in part because more than a third of its $460,000 federal grant went toward her pay and benefits for part-time work over a three-year period.

Campos referred to the criticism as a “smear campaign” against her that began because the Bueno Foods company wanted to continue using the Chimayó name on chile products. She defended her pay, saying it was determined by the institute’s board and saying pay of about $40,000 annually plus benefits was not “gouging” anyone.

“The purpose of that project was in order to give inputs into an industry so that people could start their own businesses, not to be a handout,” she added.


SIGNE I. LINDELL

AGE: 62

EDUCATION: Doctorate of Education (EdD)

OCCUPATION: Retired – full-time Santa Fe city councilor

I am running for re-election because I care deeply about Santa Fe’s future. Elections have consequences, and every vote matters!

In considering my four years on council, I’m proud of our record of accomplishments. Topping the list was erasing a $15 million hole to ensure Santa Fe’s fiscal stability. By conducting investigative audits and restructuring debt, we saved millions in interest and set Santa Fe on a solid path forward.

The city has become more responsive to struggling populations, homeless veterans and the care of children via the Homework Diner. Implementation of an innovative program has reduced 911 calls through preventive measures.

Looking in the rearview mirror, these are just a few examples of our successes. Looking forward, there are projects to challenge us. Our vision for sustainability has committed us to renewable energy and carbon neutrality by 2040.

The crucial short-term hurdle is repurposing the 64-acre SFUAD campus. Creating an innovative project in the center of Santa Fe is one of those great challenges that presents great opportunities.

Long term, we have a critical housing shortage and problems in our schools. These two issues are integral to and inter-related with Santa Fe’s successful economic development, and we must work in thoughtful collaboration. Meow Wolf and Descartes Labs are economic homeruns, but our city deserves much more.

My number one job is listening, and it’s been an honor to serve Santa Fe. I love being a councilor and all current city councilors who will serve in 2018 have endorsed me.

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.


MARIE CAMPOS

AGE: 58

EDUCATION: Fine Arts Foundations, Kansas City Art Institute & University of Hawaii at Manoa; Bachelor of Science in Fine Arts Painting & Graphics, Excelsior College; Master, Liberal Arts, St. John’s. College.

OCCUPATION: Program director, Tribal Outreach, Family Education & Extension Program, Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute.

I am running for city councilor because I believe that the will of the people should be every elected official’s highest priority to fulfill as their elected representation. I was drafted by a large and resolved group of District 1 voters who have not been satisfied with their current representation and are ready to move forward with representation that is more aligned with their priorities.

The biggest issues I see facing city government are:

1. Getting our fiscal house in order, and establishing sound and accountable financial and cash management practices to ensure both the responsible stewardship of public funds, as well as getting the most efficiency and effectiveness from every dollar spent.

2. Making it easier for more local entrepreneurs to do business within the city to advance and sustain small business viability.

3. Improving and sustaining our infrastructure to keep Santa Fe beautiful, to spotlight our cultural industries, and ready to do business with those companies that are a match for creating low-carbon-footprint jobs in our community.

4. The need to enhance public safety and security through bringing our public safety forces up to full adequate staffing, and community policing that focuses on prevention and community engagement.

5. Creating more affordable housing in the city in ways that improve the quality of life for our citizens while holding down the constantly rising cost of living – and correspondingly decrease utility rates, provide an efficient bus service and enact other proven ways of lowering the cost of living.

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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