Defying predictions and the clout of big money, Santa Fe, N.M., voters elected former city councilor Debbie Jaramillo mayor March 1. She promised to rein in runaway development and return city government to the people.
Pre-election polls and campaign funds had
shown Jaramillo lagging well behind other candidates. Projected
winner Peso Chavez raised $86,400 from local business and
development interests, compared to Jaramillo's $34,000. But money
didn't talk this time.
"The real politics is not
about money, or about power. It's about people," said Jaramillo in
a victory speech. "This town is not for sale. It belongs to the
Her "Take Back Santa Fe" volunteers
had hit the streets weeks earlier to register more senior citizens,
low income, Native and Hispanic voters (HCN, 2/7/94). At dawn on
election day, the volunteers were out again with bullhorns
reminding people to vote, said volunteer organizer Gloria Mendoza.
Grass-roots campaigning drew many first-time voters to the polls,
as well as people who had given up on voting years ago, Mendoza
The 59 percent turnout proved to be a
Santa Fe record.
The new mayor told the Santa Fe
Reporter that she is not anti-development, but wants to guide
"development that will work for everyone." Jaramillo said she will
push for more affordable housing, less emphasis on tourism and
high-end construction, and a more diverse local
It will be an uphill battle, but at
least Jaramillo won't have to fight city hall. Three other
grass-roots candidates were elected to the city council, creating
"the most progressive governing body in the history of Santa Fe,"
according to new councilor Frank
Chavez's pro-development supporters
"are still in denial," said Mendoza. One unidentified Chavez
supporter told the Albuquerque Journal that Santa Feans are going
to regret electing Jaramillo, and that she "won't last six
But Mendoza believes the election will
begin "a domino effect all through northern New Mexico."
Grass-roots candidates also won the Espaûola mayor's seat and
city council seats in Las Vegas, N.M. Take Back New Mexico next
goes after the governor's seat.
"We want to get
the people involved and to change the image of New Mexico as a
resort target, to preserve the culture, values and natural
resources of the state," said Mendoza.
information contact Gloria Mendoza at