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Teachers union president blasts Webber campaign flier

SANTA FE, N.M. — The president of Santa Fe’s chapter of the National Education Association is accusing Santa Fe mayoral candidate Alan Webber “dirty tactics” by promoting the American Federation for Teachers-New Mexico’s endorsement of Webber.

The scathing email from Grace Mayer, president of the NEA-Santa Fe, carried the subject line “Misrepresenting the Truth!” It was sent to the Webber campaign and others Saturday, the same day that a Webber campaign flier promoting the AFT endorsement arrived in Santa Fe mail boxes.

The flyer featured quotes from Santa Fe native Jarel LaPan Hill, who it identifies as a former Obama administration appointee.

“Alan Webber is the best choice for our children’s future,” says the quote on the front of the flier along side a picture of LaPan Hill, who worked for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under President Obama.

Printed below the quote are the words “Alan Webber endorsed by” and the ATF New Mexico logo.

While that’s true, Mayer’s email took Webber and his campaign to task, claiming the flier misleading voters in the March 6 election. She pointed out that NEA-Santa Fe, which represents the vast majority of school district employees, is endorsing school board member Kate Noble for mayor.

“It is astounding that you continue to misrepresent the truth to the voting public about which Union represents the MAJORITY of education employees in Santa Fe,” Mayer wrote.

She says that the local chapter of NEA represents 1,400 employees at Santa Fe Public Schools, while the SFFSE represents just 65 SFPS custodian and maintenance workers.

“Your campaign has lost all of its integrity by using these dirty tactics to get ahead,” she wrote.

Webber is considered by many to be the front runner in the race for Santa Fe mayor. The author, entrepreneur, and former candidate for governor has raised, spent and has more cash on hand than the other four candidates combined, according to campaign finance reports released by the city’s Clerk’s Office last Friday.

Mayer said that all the mayoral candidates were previously invited to participate in a vetting process that would result in an endorsement by the local union.

“Your response to our questions fell short, regarding serious issues public education employees face every day at their work sites,” Mayer said to Webber. “How dare you insult us further by dismissing our Union.”

Mayer said NEA-Santa Fe endorsed Noble because she has “the vision and the practical experience to get things done!”

Invited by the Journal to respond to Mayer’s accusations, Webber’s campaign manager, Neri Holguin, said in a statement that, “Alan is proud to have the endorsement and support of Santa Fe Federation of School Employees and the hard-working maintenance and custodial employees they represent.”

Stephanie Ly, president of AFT-New Mexico, said her group didn’t think Mayer’s email “is much of a story.”

“While it is true that NEA-SF came to a different conclusion than our members as far as who should be Santa Fe’s next Mayor, that’s part of the process,” Ly wrote in an email to the Journal. “Everyone is participating in the electoral process, and at the end of the day that’s what we should focus on — working to get people involved in their local government and advocating for our students and community.”

The email was also addressed to Morty Simon and Carol Oppenheimer, who have backed progressive Democrat candidates, including current mayor Javier Gonzales in the last election and are supporting Webber during this campaign.

Simon told the Journal he didn’t know why the email was sent to him and his wife.

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