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Four Santa Fe City Council candidates receive public campaign financing - Santa Fe New Mexican

Four Santa Fe City Council candidates have qualified for public campaign financing for the November election, while one fell just short of the threshold, City Clerk Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic confirmed Friday.

At least one candidate in each council district qualified for the taxpayer-funded program.

City Council candidates seeking $15,000 in public campaign funds must collect 150 contributions of $5 each and signatures from half a percent of the registered voters in their district. Candidates participating in the November election had from May 3 until July 19 to collect petition signatures and the donations required to secure financing.

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Santa Fe County Clerk Katherine Clark verified the nominating petition signatures while Bustos-Mihelcic verified the $5 contributions.

The following candidates qualified:

  • District 1 candidate Brian Gutierrez, a city Planning Commission member and owner of Mr. Pro Tow.
  • Incumbent District 2 candidate Carol Romero-Wirth.
  • District 3 candidate and city Planning Commissioner Lee Garcia.

Former César Chávez Elementary School principal and Planning Commissioner Amanda Chavez, who was named the new special-education director at Santa Fe Public Schools. She was verified for District 4.

Rebecca Romero, who is seeking the District 4 seat alongside Chavez, fell short of the donations required for public financing. According to Bustos-Mihelcic, Romero did collect enough signatures to qualify to have her name on the ballot.

Romero, who pinpointed public safety and filling vacant city positions as her top areas of focus, said her campaign was a “couple of contributions short” of securing the public funds and will instead pivot to private fundraising.

“We are just going to talk more to the constituents,” Romero said. “We are going to get them more involved with the private financing.”

Santa Fe County Assessor Gus Martinez has indicated an interest in the District 4 seat, but he has not officially confirmed his plans.

Romero-Wirth, who is currently running unopposed, is the only incumbent city councilor to qualify for public financing. She stated her intention to seek public financing when she announced her reelection intentions in May.

The District 1 race likely will see the largest collective fundraising pool of any of the four council districts.

Incumbent candidate and Mayor Pro Tem Signe Lindell is seeking private financing and has said she’s raised more than $70,000. Her other opponents, businessman Joe Hoback and Santa Fe Realtor Roger Carson, also have said they will seek private funding, noting Lindell’s fundraising prowess partly as a reason for the decision.

Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, who was running unopposed for District 3 until Garcia entered the fray, sought public financing in his first run for City Council in 2018 but said he will go the private route for the 2021 election.

As it stands, Abeyta and Garcia are the only candidates in District 3.

District 4 incumbent JoAnne Vigil Coppler is challenging Mayor Alan Webber, along with former congressional candidate Alexis Martinez Johnson.

Mayoral candidates must collect 600 $5 contributions to qualify for public funding, but no candidate sought the taxpayer-funded option.

Under the state Local Election Act, prospective candidates have until Aug. 24 to submit nominating petition signatures if they are not seeking public financing. The election will be held Nov. 2.