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Ortiz To Stop At 3rd Term

SANTA FE, N.M. — After more than a decade at Santa Fe City Hall, Councilor Matthew Ortiz announced Thursday he won’t seek re-election when his term expires next year.

Ortiz said his three terms as a councilor have provided him with “more than adequate” time “to achieve and to advance those issues that are important to me and my constituency.”

But he said he intends to stay in politics and is making plans to run for some other office next year.

“I’ve witnessed that serving longer than 12 years in City Hall breeds complacency and perpetuates the status quo,” Ortiz said in an email to reporters. “I’m proud to have stood up to and challenged the status quo in city government throughout my 3 terms.”


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Ortiz, an attorney, was first elected to represent south Santa Fe’s District 4 in 2000. He won re-election in 2004 and 2008, running unopposed in the last contest.

Among other accomplishments, Ortiz was a major force in getting Santa Fe to enact its pioneering living wage law – which gave workers the highest minimum wage in the nation – in 2004. Ortiz also played a key role in helping balance the city’s budget in recent years as chair of the city’s Finance Committee.

His time at City Hall also has been tinged with controversy. Santa Fe’s Ethics and Campaign Review Board reprimanded Ortiz last fall for failing to disclose that he did legal work for paving company Advantage Asphalt and Seal Coating while at the same time voting to award the company city contracts.

Ortiz continues to provide legal services for Advantage, which is at the center of a criminal investigation into Santa Fe County paving contracts.

In 2008, equal employment compliance administrator Raymond Rael, now the city’s interim police chief, alleged that Ortiz used his position as an elected official to bully him and other employees and interfere with an inquiry into whether a city employees union leader, Daniel Trujillo, was involved in the illegal sale of prescription drugs.

Ortiz denied trying to interfere with the investigation or otherwise pressuring Rael and said he was trying to facilitate an interview of Trujillo by Rael after the city manager said there had been problems with scheduling the interview.

Ortiz said he “still has an interest in public service” and will compete in the June 2012 primaries as a Democrat.

He declined to specify which office he intends to seek, saying he’s considering three different positions and wants to see how redistricting for the state Legislature and Santa Fe County offices pans out before making a final decision.

“I believe that the south side of Santa Fe is where the real heart and soul of Santa Fe resides,” he said.

Ortiz’s name has come up before in speculation about possible mayoral candidates – the next mayor’s race isn’t until 2014 – or judgeships.

Ortiz’s law license was suspended for a year in 2004 and 2005 for mishandling of three cases in which the state Supreme Court’s disciplinary board alleged a “pattern of misconduct.”

In his defense, Ortiz maintained that his errors were related to depression and an overwhelming caseload.