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Santa Fe City Council Candidates Talk Housing, Transparency

Candidates for Santa Fe's 3rd and 4th District City Council seats meeting for a forum Wednesday night at SFCC.
Kevin Meerschaert
Candidates for Santa Fe's 3rd and 4th District City Council seats meeting for a forum Wednesday night at SFCC.

Santa Fe City Council candidates at a forum held last night at SFCC say there needs to be better communication coming out of city hall and Mayor Webber’s administration.  

The forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Santa Fe New Mexican was the first of a series of forums being held this week and next. Last night featured candidates for Districts 3 and 4.  

Transparency was one of the major issues touched on by the candidates.

District 3 candidate Louis Carlos says is not satisfied with the way City Hall is being managed right now.  He points to frustration he has experienced while as a criminal investigator getting information from the city. 

“It takes months to get legal documents that we need that should be open to us, the citizens. We should know what the government is doing,” he said. “I believe in open government. When I was a public information officer with the police department, I believed in sharing what the police officers are doing on the streets. I believed in the plans that we were doing to better our community.”                

District 3’s other candidate Pilar Faulkner says she agrees with Carlos that better communication is needed at City Hall. 

She says knowledge is power and if you avoid transparency, you take power away from the people.

“And one of the places where I’m passionate about this is because I’m on the planning commission. When I joined the planning commission I saw that we were supposed to rubber stamp every project,” she said. “We were ruling from the bench. There was policy and legislation that wasn’t being enforced or that wasn’t being followed and planning commissioners were being asked to decide what that policy or legislation should look like.”             

One of the other major issues brought up was affordable and workforce housing.

All the candidates for the 3rd and 4th Districts say more needs to be done so people can afford to work and live in Santa Fe.  

Incumbent District 4 Councilor Jamie Cassutt says that’s the main reason she introduced the bill on the November ballot that would place a three-percent excise tax on the sale of homes over a million dollars to raise funds for the affordable housing trust fund. She says another major part of getting more housing is a change in land use codes.

“Our land use codes dictate whether or not we are going to build affordably and whether or not our developers are going to be interested in affordable housing,” she said. “One piece that I’m looking at is incentives for affordable and sustainable houses. I’ve been invited to be on the citizens advisory working group for our land use code update and that is one of the areas that I’m looking at.”

Cassutt’s opponent in the District 4 race Joel Nava says he has a lot of questions about the three-percent tax. He says it can help but only if the money is managed in the right way.

“The more we get the money in, how are we going to manage it,” he said. “How are we going to build and make sure these codes are in the right way? We need to get these done right. I think everyone has good ideas but we need to start putting them into action. That’s the problem. Everyone has an idea but no one has the action to do it.”       

A forum featuring District 1 and 2 candidates is being held Thursday night beginning at 6:30 in the Founders Room of Santa Fe Preparatory High School on Camino de Cruz Blanca.

It’s open to the public. The forums are being broadcast and are available on both the Santa Fe New Mexican and League of Women Voters websites.        

Early voting for the November 7th election begins on October 10th.