Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – After months of anticipation, the 2021 Santa Fe mayoral race is truly underway, after the race’s heavyweight, yet controversial incumbent officially declared his candidacy.
Mayor Alan Webber, 72, said Sunday that he will seek reelection for the seat in November’s nonpartisan municipal election. The announcement came in an op-ed written for the Santa Fe New Mexican.
Webber told the Journal he wants to continue the work he has started as mayor.
“I want to keep moving forward – I think we made progress in very challenging times,” he said.
In his first campaign, in 2018, he ran on a progressive platform to stir economic development and opportunity in Santa Fe. Having lived in Santa Fe since 2003, Webber had helped found business magazine Fast Company. His entrepreneurial background was regularly mentioned in the campaign.
However, Webber’s tenure has not been short of controversy.
In October, protesters tore down the “Soldiers’ Monument” obelisk in the Santa Fe Plaza due to a racist inscription it bore. Many on both sides faulted Webber for its destruction, saying he hadn’t moved quickly to address the issue of racist monuments in Santa Fe.
Webber said he could’ve moved faster on the issue and called it his biggest mistake in office.
“It took me too long to figure out a way to do that,” he said. “I think that was a mistake.”
His administration has also had multiple annual audits submitted months late, with reports later finding the city was lacking in fiscal controls.
In 2020, the city also furloughed more than 1,000 city employees after the COVID-19 pandemic slashed city revenue. Union officials criticized Webber for placing the brunt of furloughs onto lower-wage workers, some of whom took a 40% pay cut, while top city brass received fewer cuts.
Webber commended the city’s efforts to address the pandemic, including setting up a shelter on the Midtown Campus.
It’s still unclear who or how many people will run against Webber. While controversial, he still represents a formidable challenge.
Only City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler – Webber’s most vocal critic on the council – has publicly expressed interest in the seat but has not made an official announcement.
That’s led many to speculate the mayoral election may end up being a two-way race, with other prospective candidates deterred by Webber’s massive fundraising capabilities.
He raised more than $300,000 in his 2018 run, far surpassing his numerous opponents. Out-of-state donors have often been a huge factor for Webber: 10% of his 2018 donations came from outside New Mexico and his 2014 gubernatorial run was 60% funded by out-of-staters, excluding donations from Webber himself.
Webber said that if voters reelect him in November, his focus will remain on helping Santa Fe recover from the devastation of COVID-19, both financially and in terms of public health.
“That, ultimately, is one of the key jobs of the mayor, is to be a strong manager, and someone who builds a team that can deliver effective services to everybody in the community,” he said.