Race for Home |
Two hopefuls will challenge Democratic incumbent State Representative Andrea Romero in the June 7 primary in Santa Fe’s only contested race for the House of Representatives, with the winner facing the lone Republican in November.
Four other Democrats will run unopposed to represent the remaining districts that touch Santa Fe County: 45, 47, 48 and 50.
House District 46, where the action takes place, covers the region north of the city, including Pojoaque, Tesuque and Nambe; it also encompasses slices of the city, including the Railyard and the area northeast of Siler Road. The district also shares land with four pueblos: Nambé, Pojoaque, Tesuque, and San Ildefonso.
The issues dominating the race are familiar to Santa Fe voters: affordable housing and water shortages.
Newcomer Ryan Erik Salazar says when we think about affordable housing, we focus on how best to support low-income residents. But he argues that middle-income families have been left out of Santa Fe.
Middle-income households, burdened with college debt and insufficient wages, haven’t received the support needed to invest in homes, Salazar says.
“We need a larger middle class and it’s shrinking,” Salazar says, adding, “I see it mostly in Santa Fe County.”
A lifelong resident of the neighborhood, Salazar, 30, works for the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a buyer for federal acquisitions. He considers it necessary to provide legislative support for small businesses in order to help middle-income families and to guarantee better rights for workers.
With so many Santa Fe County residents working in the service industry, Salazar says many are “juggling three jobs, three 20-hour jobs, minimum wage, just to put a roof over their heads and sometimes their families. And that’s a lot of people in Santa Fe County.
Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal, 52, believes the district’s affordable housing crisis is inextricably linked to the region’s fragile relationship with water.
According to the Aamodt settlement agreement, the state engineer severely restricted the drilling of new wells in the Nambe, Pojoaque, Tesuque basin, Roybal says. He deplores the difficulty for landowners in this region to drill new wells to supply water to new homes, “even in certain areas where they want to subdivide a property”.
Roybal explains that new wells can be drilled under recognized water rights, but his constituents complain that the process is too complex and has prevented new drilling from taking place.
He says regional leaders need to work with the state engineer to renegotiate how the community can access water to support new developments and ease pressure on the housing market that has driven up median house prices. single-family homes north of half a million dollars.
Wrapping up his second term representing District 1 on the commission, Roybal says he already has a good relationship with his constituents. And that would extend to the House neighborhood, given the overlap.
“I make sure I’m responsive and I answer the phone,” he says. “I give my personal number.”
Roybal points to the $2 million federal funding he secured to expand broadband infrastructure along State Route 76 as a success on the commission. Improvements to the Pojoaque Valley Recreation Complex mark another.
Behavioral health initiatives are another priority Roybal says he would address if elected. “We only look at the ongoing crime rate, homelessness, opioid addiction,” Roybal says, citing indicators of the need to provide better behavioral health services to communities.
The housing situation also occupies the thoughts of the holder.
“I’m very concerned about affordability for those looking for… a stable place to live, and there are a lot of people who have to change housing and look for more affordable options,” says Romero, 35, who ends his second term. in the House. “But unfortunately they just don’t exist right now.”
Romero is studying law at the University of New Mexico in addition to running a business that sells probiotic eggs.
To address the lack of supply, which Romero attributes to the glut of homes rented through Airbnb or other vacation companies, she would like to “understand how to potentially get additional income for owners who treat their home like a business and really try to get them to think about long-term rental rather than short-term rental.
To further support tenants, Romero hopes to modernize landlord-tenant laws to provide more time for non-payment. The current schedule, Romero says, only gives tenants three days after payment is due before a landlord can serve an eviction notice. She wants to extend this to at least 11 days.
Romero celebrated the passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act, which she co-sponsored, noting not only the economic benefits of the landmark legislation, but also the protections included in the legislation to regulate the use of water for the cultivation of cannabis.
She says cannabis growers face “the most stringent water protections we have for any industry in the state, and I think that’s kind of the gold standard for how you you could look at other industries in the state, but also the way we manage water.”
The incumbent has outplayed its opponents on multiple occasions, raising more than $53,000, according to its first campaign finance report. The report Salazar filed shows he raised just over $1,000; Roybal’s report says he raised over $5,000.
Although he won’t face a challenger in June, Jay Groseclose will appear on the ballot in November as the Republican nominee for the 46th House District. Groseclose, 70, ran unsuccessfully for the 2020 seat, winning just 23% of the vote in a race against Romero. Groseclose has $4,000 in his war chest, according to his campaign finance report.
Water issues are a major concern for Groseclose, whose background is in engineering and includes a stint with the State Interstate Stream Commission. He believes there is room for improvement in the management of water and other natural resources.
“The whole question for New Mexicans is how do we want to live?” said Groseclose. “One thing I really appreciate is our vast landscapes, our beautiful horizons.”
He argues that the way communities are being developed, with taller apartment complexes and more wind and solar power infrastructure, doesn’t match his hopes for New Mexico’s future.
Groseclose also wants to tackle taxation in New Mexico, eliminating a tax on Social Security earnings, which lawmakers partially accomplished in the last session, and reducing the gross receipts tax rate. .
The House District 47 seat, soon to be vacated by Speaker Brian Egolf, will go to his chief of staff, Reena Szczepanski, who is running unopposed in the primary and general elections. Francisco Lopez attempted to run against her, but Lopez was disqualified for not collecting enough signatures from qualified voters.