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Webber has challenger in Santa Fe mayoral race

JoAnne Vigil Coppler

SANTA FE, N.M. — It’s no longer a one-horse race in Santa Fe.

Two weeks after Mayor Alan Webber announced plans to seek reelection, City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler announced her candidacy for mayor on Sunday.

The announcement came after weeks of speculation and rumors that she would run and challenge Webber. Vigil Coppler said she had been receiving calls for months encouraging her to throw her hat into the ring.

“They were asking me to run, because they believed I could make a difference,” Vigil Coppler told the Journal in a phone conversation. “I would bring accountability back to all levels within city government, because I think it’s a little bit broken down.”

She has held several positions in city and state governments throughout her career and was elected as District 4 councilor in 2018. Her campaign announcements means she can’t run for reelection on the council, opening up a vacant seat on the eight-person council.

But Vigil Coppler, 66, said it was an easy decision. She explained she’d rather not have any political office than serve under Webber for four more years.

“I know I can do a better job,” she said.

Vigil Coppler has long criticized Webber’s decisions as mayor, ever since they both took office in 2018. Soon after, she highlighted a violation in city policy regarding pay raises that led to the demotion of then-city manager Brian Snyder.

More recently, she has criticized Webber’s handling of controversial statues and monuments in Santa Fe. That includes the Soldiers’ Monument obelisk, which protesters tore down in October due to a racist inscription.

“There are many people in the city who are not satisfied with the road that city government has taken,” Vigil Coppler said.

Bruce Adams, a real estate broker in Santa Fe, lives in Vigil Coppler’s district and said he believes she is more sensitive to Santa Fe’s history, something many residents hold dear.

“I feel like she really represents the traditions of Santa Fe and the variety of people in Santa Fe,” Adams said.

Santa Fe uses ranked-choice voting for city elections, which would become a moot point in a two-person race. Webber won a five-way race in 2018 after three rounds, but if no one else enters the race this year the winner would almost certainly be determined after just one round.

One hurdle for Vigil Coppler in the race will be competing against Webber’s fundraising capabilities. He raised more than $300,000 during his winning campaign in 2018.

She said funds will be a factor in the race, but that she’s not intimidated by her opponent’s finances.

“Dollar bills don’t vote, but it’s an important part of an election,” she said. “I need to have a great campaign.”

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