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School Board Candidate Plans to Withdraw

SANTA FE, N.M. — One Santa Fe school board candidate has announced he won’t appear at a forum later this week, saying he withdrew because of disparaging comments allegedly made about his wife by Richard Ellenberg, chairman of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party.

The Thursday night forum for candidates running for two open school board seats is sponsored by the Democratic Party.

District 3 candidate Fred “David” Zimbler, when contacted by the Journal, said in an email, “In general, the comments ascribed to Mr. Ellenberg disparaged my wife, who is a teacher in SFPS, and by extension, my campaign. Because my wife is employed by SFPS, circulating negative comments regarding her role as a teacher could damage her professionally.

“I don’t think anyone’s spouse or family member should be maligned during any campaign, and especially not in a race that is, by definition, non-partisan.”

Zimbler, a retired businessman, is a registered Republican. The school board races, as Zimbler noted, are non-partisan, meaning candidates don’t run as nominees of any party. Zimbler’s wife, Anne, teaches at E.J. Martinez Elementary School in Santa Fe.

Ellenberg said he assumes Zimbler is referring to a comment alleging that the candidate is running for the seat “because his wife is angry about something.” Ellenberg said he heard from “a couple of people” that Zimbler told some people that was his reason for running when he filed for the District 3 seat, which pits him against fellow candidate Susan Duncan, program director at Aspen Community Magnet School.

In turn, Ellenberg said he passed that comment on to a couple of other people, and it got back to Zimbler’s wife. Ellenberg added that he had no idea what the “something” was that Anne Zimbler supposedly was angry about.

“To my knowledge, my wife is not ‘angry’ about anything related to her employment,” Zimbler told the Journal in an email. “I have no idea where Mr. Ellenberg is getting his information about my wife.”

Zimbler wrote in a statement he wanted read at the forum, “Remarks attributed to Mr. Ellenberg, Democratic committee party chairman, concerning my wife, a Santa Fe teacher, and my campaign, lead me to believe I can expect neither equitable treatment nor a fair opportunity to deliver my campaign message at this important community event.”

The forum, which will feature candidates for two seats up for election on Feb. 5, is scheduled for 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Road.

Ellenberg said he will not be moderating the event, in which all candidates will be asked the same questions, and added that he hopes Zimbler will attend.

The other school board race, for the District 5 seat, pits Louis Carlos, a Santa Fe police lieutenant, against retired educator Lorraine T. Price.