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Santa Fe City Council District 2 candidates: Q&A

ISSUES QUESTIONS

1. Why you are running for City Council?

ABBOTT: I am running in the hope of providing a voice for neighbors, neighborhoods, historic preservation, natural resource conservation, and long-range planning on the Santa Fe City Council. I believe that the needs, interests and concerns of individual Santa Feans are being systematically sidelined by our current leadership. I want to make sure that the ordinary citizens who live and work in Santa Fe are benefitting from municipal government policies and practices. I believe that it is the ordinary citizens of Santa Fe who will be instrumental, if given the opportunity, in finding solutions for Santa Fe’s housing, infrastructure and climate instability issues. Voting statistics for the citizens of Santa Fe are extremely low. I am hearing from people in my district who they feel their voices have no worth with city government and I would like to work to turn that around.

GARCIA: I am running because I feel that there is a lack of community voice on the council. I see the direction that the city is heading toward, with rising housing costs and an aging infrastructure, and it gives me concern about the future of Santa Fe. I want to ensure that the future of our great city is one that will be bright and provides opportunity for future generations to have access to an affordable home and work a thriving job market. I have extensive experience in community development and working in communities to develop solutions to identified community challenges. My priority is to plan for a successful future for our city government and ensuring that the community is part of the process. The three priorities that I will focus on are: developing affordable housing, modernizing our infrastructure and increasing the support to constituents.

2. Santa Fe has a critical shortage of affordable rental housing. As a councilor, how would you balance development of or zoning changes to facilitate new rental housing (apartments, casitas or other units) with preserving existing single-family residential neighborhoods?

ABBOTT: Large-scale development of housing as practiced in the past is no longer a viable development option, given the city’s inability to provide essential services and protect our quality of life effectively now. The city must commit to providing the kinds of incentives put forth 20 years ago in the City of Santa Fe General Plan to incentivize individual property owners, specifically, to provide rentals at lower than market value. Incentivizing developers with fee in lieu of options and reducing restrictions on development in single family neighborhoods has not and will not increase affordable housing in Santa Fe.

GARCIA: We need to look at revising city building codes and our permitting process, which currently cause challenges to housing development. As we look at developing housing, we must ensure that we develop housing in a smart, affordable and sustainable manner. As the city begins to look at developing housing on the identified six city properties owned by the city, we need to seek community input and support. We must ensure that, as housing is developed, we don’t destroy the fabric of our great communities and neighborhoods.

3. What do you see as the best potential uses of the city-owned Midtown campus?

ABBOTT: I believe that the best and highest use for the Midtown campus should continue to be as an educational institution, certainly with an artistic focus. An educational institution with a focus perhaps on media arts could be a viable and vibrant center for economic stability, and an attraction for youth and new ideas, and development designed to complement rather than infringe upon the quality of life for ordinary citizens in Santa Fe.

GARCIA: It is important to get community input and support for proposed development as there are many possibilities. I hope to see smart, affordable and sustainable housing developed. I would also like see a small-business incubator established to help drive local economic opportunities. Creating a walkable living space will help to reenergize the area. Additionally, we should look at bringing city government to the people by relocating city hall and city departments to the center of town. Creating one entry point to city government would be a great benefit to constituents.

4. How would you address homelessness in Santa Fe?

ABBOTT: Santa Fe does not have a dedicated shelter for homeless women and their children. I will be dedicated to creating one in District 2.

GARCIA: As a city councilor, I will work with community-based organizations to develop smart, sustainable service delivery systems and make sure services are not being duplicated. The city needs to take an active role in helping individuals not only obtain critical services, but also create a system that will be committed to decreasing the homeless population in Santa Fe. We need to work hand in hand with homeless shelters in District 2, like Casa Familia. Let’s work together as a community to give the homeless population a hand up to help them get on their feet and off the streets.

5. What are your ideas for improving and diversifying Santa Fe’s economy?

ABBOTT: Santa Fe could be the media/film arts center of New Mexico, an industry that is green and thriving. We should be working toward incentivizing media industries (providing infrastructure on the midtown campus as an example). The St. Michael’s development corridor could become housing and infrastructure for industry workers, rather than a luxury development of high end housing. We are an arts community. Focusing on artistic industries could and should be our greatest economic advantage.

GARCIA: I would like to focus on supporting and growing our local businesses. Developing a Midtown campus business incubator would help local entrepreneurship opportunities. This incubator would provide resources to help a startup business become a strong and thriving business that adds value to our local economy. When we invest in our local businesses, it is a win for our community. We should also support our youth in obtaining a quality education and develop a highly educated workforce. This in turn would help to attract bigger business to Santa Fe.

BACKGROUND QUESTIONS

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

GARCIA: No

ABBOTT: No

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

GARCIA: No

ABBOTT: No

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

GARCIA: Yes, DUI dismissed/deferred

ABBOTT: No

 

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