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County Commissioner candidates both tout county experience

Both candidates running to represent District 3 on the Santa Fe County Commission come with county experience. One has been a county employee for decades and the other is vying for the same county commission seat he once held for eight years.

Rudy Garcia

If elected, Rudy Garcia will be the first person outside of the Anaya family to represent District 3 on the commission in more than 15 years.

Mike Anaya, who served two four-year terms as District 3 commissioner through 2010 and whose brother Robert has held it ever since, is looking to make a return. This time, he’s dropped the Democratic Party tag and is running as an independent.

Garcia, a 47-year-old county employee who was appointed to a vacant spot on the Santa Fe school board last year, won a three-way race in June’s Democratic primary for the County Commission seat. Former Commissioner Anaya announced he would be running back in March.

Mike Anaya

Anaya, 54, explained that he and his family convened several months earlier to discuss if one of them should run now that Robert has reached his two-term limit.

“The family got together and said, well, if (there is) nobody that we think can do a good job to represent District 3 and southern Santa Fe County, we need to go back into it,” said Mike Anaya.

“That’s when I decided, OK, I’ll do it. I want to do it. I want to get back into helping people.”

His previous commission experience, as well as his ranching and small business background, is what the Galisteo native says makes him the most qualified candidate.

“I feel that I’ve learned a tremendous amount at the county, and there’s still a lot more to learn,” said Anaya. “I don’t know it all, but I have a good start. Going back, I feel I can pick up where I left off and continue to move forward.”

The former Democrat cited national tensions between the two main parties as what pushed him to become an independent.

“You watch the news these days, and it’s constant,” he explained. “Democrats and Republicans are fighting constantly. If a Republican has a good idea, just because you’re a Republican, Democrats say, ‘No, we’re not going to go with that idea.’ If it helps the people, why not?”

He said he views county government as a non-partisan entity. “It’s not about the party, it’s about the people,” Anaya said.

Asked whether being an independent may impact his race – more than 63 percent of county voters are registered Democratic – Anaya said, “I think there’s going to be some Democrats who are going to be loyal to the party, but I think there are going to be a lot of Democrats that know I did help them in the past and they will vote for me.”

Proud of accomplishments

Both candidates have lifelong roots in the area. The former commissioner has split time between the family home in Galisteo and their ranch to the south in Stanley. He currently co-runs the ranch with his three brothers and manages a few rental properties in Galisteo. He had an electrical company for almost 20 years before selling it about a decade ago.

Discussing his years on the County Commission, Anaya said he’s proud of his accomplishments, including the creation of the First Choice health facility in Edgewood, expansion of Fire Department and Sheriff’s Office services, and bringing Regional Transit District buses to the southern part of the county.

Since leaving the commission, he’s spent more time with his children, 28-year-old Miranda and 26-year-old Art, and his year-old grandson Zane. But he also served as assistant state Land Commissioner under Democrat Ray Powell and made an unsuccessful state Senate run in District 39 in 2016. That race was won by Sen. Liz Stefanics.

Anaya has also previously served as president of the New Mexico Association of Counties and is currently a board member for the Galisteo Mutual Domestic Water Consumers Association, which oversees the community’s water system that he said his father, Joe Anaya, helped create in the 1970s.

If elected, he said he’s interested in finding ways to streamline the county’s permitting process for residential and commercial developments. Other issues that he says have been brought to his attention on the campaign trail include water quality in the community of Cerrillos and an abandoned property in San Pedro that has become an unofficial shooting range.

“I’m going to listen to my communities to see what they need,” said Anaya. “I really don’t have an agenda going in there, besides looking at issues that have been brought up to me.”

Passion for public service

Garcia said nobody knows the county like he does. He described himself as someone who has worked “in the trenches” for Santa Fe County.

As a nearly 30-year county employee who has worked in several departments, he said he’s had an insider’s view that policy-makers often don’t have.

“I’ve been there, I’ve done that,” he said.

The La Cienega resident, who grew up off Airport Road, is currently the county’s legislative liaison. He relays information to the county manager and commission about bills passed by the State Legislature that impact the county. He started off in the Assessor’s Office, moved to what is now the county’s Geographic Information Systems Division and then to zoning. After leaving the county for about a year to try operating his own consulting business, he returned as an assistant to the county manager and Commissioner Marcos Trujillo, and oversaw the county’s capital projects.

If elected, he won’t be holding a regular county job. Garcia said he has plans to retire by the end of the year.

Since December, Garcia has also served on the Santa Fe school board, which generally meets the first and third Tuesdays of each month. The county commission meetings are typically on the second and last Tuesdays of each month.

Garcia said he plans to work double duty if elected to the commission. He said serving on both boards offers a chance to build a bridge between the two entities. He said he also hopes to bring the city of Santa Fe and the state into a community dialogue.

“We should all come together as one community, one team and one government, and figure out what the needs are of the community,” said Garcia.

The main conflict he says he would experience is when the County Commission meets and the school board holds a study session on the last Tuesday of the month. The county commission meetings start at 2 p.m. and the study sessions begin around 6 p.m.

“I’ll have to play it case by case and see if that happens,” he said. He said he could catch up the school board study sessions from the superintendent or a fellow board member.

Issues that Garcia cited as top priorities include improving communication among the county departments; maintaining and monitoring traditional agricultural uses in the district’s historic villages (Garcia himself cleans out La Cienega’s acequia on an annual basis); finding areas to develop affordable housing near the city limits off Airport Road; and improving the water pumps at the Buckman Direct Diversion project, which pulls water for the area supply from the Rio Grande.

Garcia also serves as a board member for the Santa Fe Mountain Center, a nonprofit whose offerings include “adventure therapy,” counseling services, food pantries and support networks for the LGBTQ community.

His main driver in vying for the County Commission seat, he says, is his passion for public service and desire to improve the community.

“And until you have a card at the playing table, you really have no say-so,” said Garcia. “By having a card at the table, (it) gives me an opportunity to actually make a difference in this community.”

The latest campaign finance reports show that throughout the primary and general election, Garcia has received a total of $3,400 in donations. In contrast, Anaya’s reports reveal he has raised only $800 of his own money for the campaign so far.


Rudy Garcia

AGE: 47

EDUCATION: Graduate of Santa Fe High School/Phoenix Institute of Technology

OCCUPATION: Legislative liaison/project manager for Santa Fe County

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 28½ years working for Santa Fe County in various positions; Santa Fe Public Schools board member; 12-plus years as the Santa Fe Mountain Center board member; 10-plus years on the Santa Fe Public Schools Citizens Review Committee; 10-plus years on the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Fe; 5-plus years with the Adoration Community Theology and Service Mission.


Mike Dale Anaya

AGE: 54

EDUCATION: Santa Fe High School; Associate of Arts, Electricity; Bachelor of Arts, New Mexico Highlands University

OCCUPATION: Rancher/electrical contractor/carpenter.

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Former Santa Fe County commissioner (8 years); former assistant state land commissioner (4 years); former president of New Mexico Association of Counties; water association board member, Galisteo; former Santa Fe County volunteer firefighter; former president, Galisteo Community Association; former member, Santa Fe County Development Review Committee


JOURNAL QUESTIONS FOR THE CANDIDATES

1. Explain why you are running for County Commissioner and what you see as the biggest issues facing county government

GARCIA: Growing up in Santa Fe County taught me the importance of and need for public service. I would like to help people attain basic necessities of county government, including water, solid waste services, public safety, etc. Through working in many different capacities at Santa Fe County, I have developed a unique knowledge of the community and ways in which I can create meaningful change. It’s one of my priorities to have government entities that are contiguous to Santa Fe County and various stakeholder organizations develop a regional strategic plan of action to address an array of environmental, social and development issues.

I believe that there are several challenges facing the Adult and Juvenile Detention Centers, including access to mental health services and substance abuse rehabilitation. Regarding the 2020 General Obligation Bond, I find it necessary to prioritize projects to work in conjunction with previous bond dollars that have not been expended. I am very involved with the new County Administration Complex project and the renovation of the existing County Administration building, ensuring consistency with voter intent and historic accuracy, while staying within approved budgetary restraints. I believe that preserving agricultural values in traditional communities is critical and, as such, the Hard Rock Mining section of the Sustainable Land Development Code (SLDC) must be addressed. Senior services in our area also need to be continuously reviewed and enhanced. There are several more challenges that Santa Fe County is facing in the future that I have the experience and knowledge to assist with.

ANAYA: I have always served the communities of Galisteo and Stanley that I grew up in. I am committed to helping others have a high quality of life and good county services; that is why I am running. I had the honor and privilege to serve as a County Commissioner for District 3. I worked hard to help make things happen and am proud to have been part of the Buckman Direct Diversion Project; the Cerrillos Hills State Park; construction of updated Solid Waste Transfer Stations; implementation of senior and youth programs countywide; strong support for public safety (Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department); and road, Open Space and infrastructure projects countywide. I am committed to serving all residents in the county, regardless of party affiliation or background. I see the county getting over extended in trying to do too many things for too many different groups. We need to take care of the fundamentals, water/wastewater, public safety, senior/youth services and roads. We need to support coordinated regional economic development through higher-level coordination with the state, our municipalities, our fellow counties and the private sector We need to keep taxes down, and work to support local businesses and the jobs that come with them.

2. Have you or your business — if you are a business owner — ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

GARCIA: No.

ANAYA: No.

3. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

GARCIA: No.

ANAYA: No.

4. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony?

GARCIA: Yes. (When asked to elaborate, Garcia said he had one DWI charge 10-15 years ago.)

ANAYA: Arrested for, charged or convicted of drunken driving or felony? No. Traffic violations? Yes.

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