There are a few things to note about this year’s municipal election season in Santa Fe.
• Of course, there’s ranked-choice voting. It remains to be seen what will happen on election day, but at this point it seems like we’ve all got more or less used to the idea.
You can rank all five people running for mayor first to last, just bubble in a first choice or do something in between (but don’t leave any gaps). It’s not rocket science.
If there’s an election day meltdown or most Santa Feans don’t like ranked choice after this go round, the city charter can be amended back to the old way of electing people by plurality or to have a traditional two-candidate runoff election after an initial round of voting in which no one gets a majority.
But, to say it again, it was right that District Judge David Thomson ordered the city to implement ranked-choice voting for this election. It shouldn’t have taken a decade for RCV to be used after Santa Fe voters, deciding on a measure placed on the ballot by the City Council, approved switching to ranked choice in 2008.
• The campaign season has been so nice (noted here a few days before election day, and anything still can happen).
In 2014, the unions supporting Javier Gonzales raked then-City Councilor Patti Bushee over the coals with negative mailers and enjoyed it so much they kept going after her even after Gonzales won the election.
There’s been nothing resembling negative campaigning, in public at least, in 2018 (unless letters to the editor count).
Nicer campaigns are supposed to be encouraged by ranked-choice voting, because the eventual winner will probably have to get some second- or third-choice votes to reach a majority, so candidates should be less likely to knock their opponents.
That may have been what happened in Santa Fe in 2018. Or the candidates may have surmised the nastiness of the 2014 election had left a bad taste.
• There have been 21 – count ’em – 21 candidate forums for the mayoral candidates. That’s more than any sane voter would want to sit through, and it had to be hard and repetitive for the candidates. But the forums certainly gave anyone who wanted to plenty of chances to see and compare those who want to run Santa Fe.
It would be great if there could be more big forums, like the one that brought a crowd to the Lensic, and to have a few that are structured more like the debates televised during presidential elections.
Even when the Republican field was huge during the 2016 primary season, debates allowed assorted candidates to separate themselves from the others a bit. So having as many as five candidates for mayor doesn’t rule out a more vigorous debate format. But putting such an event before the general public is difficult in Santa Fe, which lacks its own commercial television stations.
Now it’s time to see if that software that’s supposed to count ranked-choice votes really works. In any case, if you haven’t voted early by the end of today, go to the polls Tuesday and participate in democracy.
In the District 3 City Council race, former county manager Roman “Tiger” Abeyta is unopposed. Here, as a reminder, are the Journal North’s endorsements for the other Santa Fe races:
Mayor: Joseph Maestas
City Council District 1 : Signe Lindell
City Council District 2 : Carol Romero-Wirth
City Council District 4 : Joanne Vigil Coppler