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Santa Fe City Council District 4 Candidates

ISSUES QUESTIONS

1. Why are you running for City Council?

XAVIER ANDERSON: As a homeowner in my district, I wanted to use my 25 years of public service experience in New Mexico with work at all levels of government (municipal, county and state) to make a difference in the city I live in and love. My experience with finance, public safety and program management (data-driven solutions) makes me a unique candidate to address many of the issues that face Santa Fe. I have worked on legislation from the grassroots level including the writing of and providing testimony for passage. Lastly, I have served on non-profit boards for both city and statewide organizations.

JAMIE CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: I grew up in Santa Fe and returned with my husband and child to build our business and raise our family. As a public health professional, I view all policy as health policy because I have seen how our leaders’ decisions impact the health and wellbeing of our community. I want to ensure that the health and wellbeing of all Santa Feans is paramount in every decision made at City Hall. As city councilor, I will work hard to keep young families here and make the city work for older families. That means supporting Santa Feans with affordable housing, right now. That means supporting young families with affordable childcare, right now. That means supporting young people with jobs and economic opportunities so they can stay or return to Santa Fe, right now. These things will make our community healthier, safer, more livable, and more vibrant.

GREG SCARGALL: I am running for city council because I am deeply concerned about the direction our community is heading. People from across District 4 and beyond deserve public servants, and a municipality that goes above and beyond to ensure that all reasonable expected services are equitable and timely. I know deep down that I am the only candidate with the background and experience to bring about real results. Having been a part of a robust community conversation during the last election, it is clear to me that we still have a lot of work that needs to be done in order to become a more efficient, transparent, and trustworthy municipality. Actionable issues like delivering a timeline for the Midtown Campus, starting and completing approved housing projects, and redesigning the way we provide services are all issues that need to be handled with the upmost care and attention.

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

ANDERSON: Low inventory is one of the main drivers of high prices in Santa Fe. We need to take multiple approaches with the streamlining of city processes in planning/zoning and permit processing to encourage responsible growth. The city should also look at in-fill opportunities that are paired with mass transit and “new urbanism” living (walkable services). A concerted effort should also be made to have collaborative relationships with organizations such as Homewise to increase homeownership. Ownership and rental markets should have equal priority when being addressed for future needs.

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: Santa Fe’s affordable housing crisis goes beyond the need for affordable rentals. We need to come together as a community to ensure that we have housing that is affordable for ALL Santa Feans right now, including workers, young families, and grandparents. I propose we:

identify city-owned plots throughout the city that are appropriate for development and request proposals for projects that will create more homes for working families; clean up our codes so approved projects can move quickly without being held up by unnecessary bureaucracy; work with the state Legislature to ensure tax codes support affordable housing for New Mexicans.

SCARGALL: We need to start, and complete, construction on 2000+ units approved since 2016. Then we need to break through the emotional gridlock by doing a better job of leading. I will ensure that we start working proactively and collaboratively to rebuild our lost sense of trust, by improving our process of communication across the board.

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

ANDERSON: The city has gone through one round of public input, and from my walking of District 4, there is a call for more input. This input should be used for fine-tuning the affordable housing, government (city services), small business incubators, and higher education that is wanted by the constituency. A frequent request is that visible development should begin promptly to demonstrate our commitment to controlling costs of our large debt service currently being paid.

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: Midtown campus offers a unique and exciting opportunity to create a community center in the geographical center of our city. Throughout the planning and building process, continuous community engagement is crucial. The best use of the space would include:

Housing for working families; opportunities for local businesses, such as affordable retail space and business incubators; spaces for learning and higher education; resources to improve the health of the community, such as community clinics, community gardens, and farmers markets; preservation of Santa Fe landmarks, including the Greer Garson, Screen, Fogelson Library, and amphitheater.

Green space for play, exercise, and community events.

SCARGALL: The fact that we are still asking this question today, when “local stakeholders” spent countless hours attending town halls, forums, taking surveys and looking at impressive architectural renderings. It’s beyond frustrating that we still don’t know what, when, or how it will happen. We need to hold our elected leaders accountable for not delivering on their promises, and now here we are hiring outside firms to tell us what it should become. My vision has not changed since 2017. We need housing, housing, and yes more housing and services that meet the needs of our community and bring people together.

4. How would you address homelessness in Santa Fe?

ANDERSON: Homelessness in Santa Fe is a multiple-agency and multiple-jurisdictional problem. Collaboration with our partners in the Human Services Department, Department of Health, the County and private non-profit organizations should be a formalized task force. With the success of “Pete’s Place” in providing for the indigent, it has revealed a further need for space and services. Real engagement with all areas of the City needs to happen, to assess current/future locations, capabilities and missions. The true numbers of homeless are often invisible and an overall plan with multiple stakeholders would ensure no one falls through the cracks.

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: As someone who ran a program providing health and literacy promotion to homeless families, I know that each person struggling with homelessness is facing unique challenges and needs individualized support. I propose the City: creates a homeless census to identify, understand, and appropriately address individual challenges; ensures all entities working with homeless individuals use compatible platforms to seamlessly work together; employs rapid rehousing programs to prevent homelessness; increases access to mental health and substance abuse programs; establishes the Health Alliance Committee, a collaboration between the City, County and School District, that will address health and social needs in our community.

SCARGALL: There are many ways we can try and help those that find themselves on hard times here in Santa Fe. I support innovative ideas like the Better Way Van Program, and the City’s support of local shelters. However, we greatly lack the ability to increase capacity in our local services that support mental health and addiction issues. Housing First is a successful national model that houses the homeless as a first step with requirements like remaining sober. But how can we realistically try this here if we can’t even house our working class. Time to face this issue head on!

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

ANDERSON: Santa Fe needs to seize opportunities that embrace new industries such as “New Mexico Fresh Foods” that model an environmentally sustainable product and engage our local agriculture industry. The city also needs to review its current business license model and evaluate customer service to streamline processes. In our engagement with our district four constituents, I have heard that it is difficult to get all of the paperwork necessary for the required business license. A simple fix could be as easy as an online checklist with helpful links to limit multiple trips to City Hall.

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: When my husband and I were starting our business we received some misinformation and experienced unnecessary roadblocks that delayed opening by a month, creating a financial strain for our family. Santa Fe needs to: ensure the City’s Office of Economic Development offers programs to support small, locally grown businesses instead of just going after big fish; clean up our codes so the process for starting a business is clear, simple, and efficient; move all business services to a single location and offer online services so business owners do not waste valuable time driving to different offices.

SCARGALL: Improving the economy starts with building more housing. When 53% of our workforce commutes, that means money earned here is spent elsewhere. I support localism and investing to help local entrepreneurs realize their dreams. Having been through the business licensing process myself, we need a more user friendly process, especially for home-based businesses. Another, big issue that pops up within our local small business community is the heavy burden of having to address costly owner occupancy requirements. Owners of rented buildings should have to keep their properties up to current code. Opportunity sectors: Technology, Green Energy, & Agriculture.

 

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?

ANDERSON: No

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: No

SCARGALL: No

 

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

ANDERSON: No

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: No

SCARGALL: No

 

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

ANDERSON: No

CASSUTT-SANCHEZ: No

SCARGALL: Yes

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