It’s an election year and the fight for the mayoral seat is gearing up. August 24th is the filing deadline for nomination petitions for privately funded candidates. Alexis Martinez Johnson talks about getting on the ballot and what a conservative voice for Santa Fe would look like.
KSFR: To start off, you're an environmental engineer, how will your experiences affect your decisions if elected into the mayoral seat?
Alexis Martinez Johnson: I got into environmental engineering because I was concerned about our future, I was concerned about doing what was right in our community, and utilizing engineering to make sure that we're using our resources in a respectful manner. So here in Santa Fe, you know, we have various issues going on, such as affordable housing, we have water restrictions and a drought condition, even though we've received a lot of rain, we're still in a drought condition, issues like this. Another issue is transportation, as you grow in the center of the city, where we have tourists, and also extending from there as you have new developments. So, you know, my expertise goes in line with city management.
A lot of what environmental engineering professionals do is that they manage water, conservation, waste water management, transportation engineering, and they work with a lot of different people. And that is a crucial because you have to have an understanding of constituents, regulatory affairs, government officials, and the everyday person, right? You need to take all of that into account and make the best decision that you can.
KSFR: If elected in November, what would you say would be your number one priority of focus?
Alexis Martinez Johnson: The number one priority is safety. And that safety is economic. It is also health. And it deals with crime reduction as well here in Santa Fe. So, I know a lot of people don't want to talk about that. But it is an element that we've seen on the rise here for extremely violent crimes here in Santa Fe, such as deaths, carjacking’s, as you are aware of in the news recently, from the past four months, we've had some horrific gun violence issues go on in Santa Fe. So, for me, the number one is safety. And that encompasses a very diverse range of issues.
KSFR: And you just brought up public safety and the gun violence that has just been going on in Santa Fe. And recently, the Santa Fe police have been in the news a lot for many officer involved shootings. So, what are your thoughts? And what policies would you have on policing?
Alexis Martinez Johnson: Well, you know, we definitely want to be able to support our police officers. And what that means is that we support them with proper training, whether that be how to properly utilize various non-lethal weaponry. And you know, we want to take the least possible harm approach. So, we need to make sure that they have the money to be trained. And we also need to worry about mental health with our police officers because they need to be able to decompress from this extremely traumatic stress, you know, to end one's life is nothing that is taken without extremely serious intent. As far as you know, the circumstances taking of life is extremely serious. So, I think that the officers need to have money to do that. In Santa Fe, we only had eight officers as of a couple months ago. So, the officers have expressed to me that they need more officers to you know, do their duties, make sure that their shifts are not extreme, and that they can have the resources to help with their mental health.
Now, as far as you know, criminal activity. Anytime that there is a criminal activity where someone is threatening the life of an officer, or taking the life of other persons, those are situations where deadly force has been used here in Santa Fe. So, you know, we have to look at the situation, was this criminal using or about to use deadly force upon the officer? Where they going to use deadly force upon others in the community? And so that is based upon the officers’ training. But first and foremost, we should use non-lethal methods for sure.
KSFR: Pivoting to social justice, you've said you are a leader who is sensitive to the vast culture and history of the city. And last year, we saw the Obelisk in Santa Fe Plaza being torn down by protesters, and later removed by Mayor Webber from the Plaza altogether. What are your thoughts on the race and concern over monuments? And how will you consider social justice if elected?
Alexis Martinez Johnson: I just want to make it very clear that I 100% believe in protests. I've participated in protests before. And I think that every individual that has a voice and wants to express themselves, you know, they should be able to do that. That's in our Constitution, or we should be able to protest. So, I'm a supporter of protest. Where the line is drawn here in Santa Fe, where it should be drawn is where people resort to violent actions, whether that be property destruction, or that is harm to any officer. So, property destruction, of course, taking down a Obelisk, I mean, that's dangerous in itself. I'm thankful that nobody was hurt by those things c coming down, and also, you know, jumping on the police officers’ backs, those are harming. Harming our people that are there to maintain civility, maintain the common good and security, which is what our taxes are paid for. So, in this situation in Santa Fe, you had outright anarchy.
So, I think Mayor Webber failed our community when he allowed that to occur. So, a mayorship with me would be one of compassion, and understanding and listening to other voices. But we would definitely not support or open the door to further vandalism. And you saw after that was done, various acts around the city occurred. Due to the response we had paint poured over a Catholic father statue, down to the west side of the plaza. And you know, now you're getting into the religious aspect where you are going against a freedom of religion. And there is nowhere in Santa Fe, whether you're Muslim, than from the Jewish community, or any other religion, where that would be appropriate. And so here in Santa Fe, we're seeing somewhat of a hush hush in regard to these religious attacks.
So as your next mayor is all about negotiation and seeing a way that we can compromise. But if you're coming to the table, and you want to destroy and create anarchy and chaos and mayhem, and you will not stop, you know, that's going to be completely shut down, that will not occur in my mayorship.
KSFR: When it comes to homelessness, you've said one thing we will not do is make Santa Fe and attractive haven for homelessness. But you said if elected, you would provide proper services. But that won't include creating a shelter in the heart of the city. Can you explain what those proper services would be if elected and why you're against creating that homeless shelter.
Alexis Martinez Johnson: So basically, if you're going to invest a huge amount of dollars to put displaced people in the heart of Santa Fe, you are going to create a lot of issues. If you're talking about housing, individuals who may have substance abuse issues, perhaps single mothers with children, and also people that have mental health issues, and you're going to put them all together that is rife for discord, and disunity and disharmony within the community. I think that there are many individuals that have an extreme chemical dependence, and they need help, they have may have suffered extreme trauma. And these individuals are someone's mother or someone's father. And we have to have compassion.
But when we invest an extreme amount of money to create an attractive situation where the individual has housing in the center of Santa Fe from taxpayer dollars, while you know, they're not going to get treatment, they're not trying to seek any type of gainful employment, and things of this nature, I think that we're setting ourselves up to become a haven for people from New York, Portland, San Francisco, to come in to Santa Fe, and create a situation where we now become the homeless capital of the United States. So, we have to be very careful for this complex issue.
I would recommend working with our Las Vegas Mental Health Institute, and also making sure that if you are, you know, shooting up heroin on the side of the road, like we see here in Santa Fe on Cerrillos, that you know, you're charged with the crime. And in that, that you're able to get some type of 90-day substance abuse help and later transition to a citizen that's able to be a part of the community in a positive manner. You know, I think that we need to work with our professionals in mental health, substance abuse, and housing and come up with the best practices solutions.