Santa Fe City Council District 3 Race Hopes Say Expanding Services, Setting Seniors Center Priorities | Local News
The two candidates from District 3 of the Santa Fe City Council say they are the right person to help tackle long-standing challenges, such as a lack of services and amenities, in the southern and southwestern parts of the city. city.
Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, who is nearing the end of his four-year term as one of two District 3 councilors, said the city had made progress in recent years and wanted to keep that momentum going. during a second term.
“It’s a big priority for me,” said Abeyta. “The neighborhood is growing, and it’s a very important part of the city.
Abeyta’s only challenger, Planning Commissioner Lee Garcia, said he shares those concerns.
“You see the growth; you see how many people are driven into that area, ”Garcia said. “But you haven’t seen a lot of economic development in this area. One of the most important things I see when I talk to constituents is that they feel forgotten. They feel like they are on an island.
District 3 is the largest, most populous and most dynamic in the city. It historically lags behind the city’s other three neighborhoods in terms of services, although it is home to most of the city’s working young families, first-time buyers and children.
Abeyta said bringing more services to the south side will require not only a focused city-level steward, but someone who understands the interplay between federal, state and local funds.
Abeyta, who previously served as the Santa Fe County Director, said he believed he was suitable for the job based on his experience and the relationships he has built with state and federal authorities.
He also touts his work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe, saying it gives him a privileged lead on some of the issues facing not only the youth of District 3, but the children of the city as well.
“I have a lot of experience running the county for years and working with our state legislature,” Abeyta said. “I was able to come in and lobby for federal funds for the teen center. These relationships, you have to have these relationships with these senators and representatives to move these things forward. “
Garcia said his tenure on the city’s planning commission – his term expires at the end of December – also provided him with expertise that would help him tackle the problems in District 3.
“I realize how much experience Abeyta has in public service,” Garcia said. “I just think having the business point of view, being a person who lives, works and walks among people, not to say Tiger doesn’t. However, I can see the struggles day in and day out. “
Garcia, who works for his family business, Garcia Tires, and was one of the last council candidates to announce their candidacy, said he joined the race to give the residents of District 3 a choice after that it appeared that Abeyta would run unopposed.
“When you go to the polls and you only have one candidate to vote, I think it’s sad,” Garcia said. “So I’m at a point in my life where I feel I can contribute. I feel like I have skills to bring to the board.
Garcia acknowledged the extent of progress being made on the south side, but said he wanted to find ways to accelerate projects for the district.
The 17,000 square foot Southside Teen Center, across Country Club Road and adjacent to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Fe, recently opened; the origins of this project go back more than a decade before Abeyta took office.
Former councilor Carmichael Dominguez pleaded for its construction following the city’s annexation of the Tierra Contenta housing estate.
The project gained momentum in 2018, after Mayor Alan Webber budgeted $ 1 million to help capture the state’s capital spending funds.
Abeyta, one of three councilors to endorse Webber’s reelection bid, has been a steadfast ally of the mayor and said these working relationships are important in speeding up some projects on the south side.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic has put the brakes on city plans in the region and he hopes that as the country pulls out of the pandemic more projects across the city will start to bear fruit. .
One of those projects is the completion of the 90-acre Southwest Activity Node (SWAN) park off Jaguar Drive. In 2015, 13.1 acres of the park opened with the completion of the first of three phases of the project.
“We have to take care of it,” Abeyta said of the park finish.
District 3 has approximately 21 acres of landscaped parkland. By comparison, Districts 1, 2 and 4 each have over 100 acres of developed parks; District 1 leads with 157 acres.
The city will likely focus on finding a location in District 3 for a senior citizen center before moving forward with the park. Abeyta said the city is laying the groundwork for the project, which he sees as a priority.
“We don’t have an elderly center in District 3,” said Abeyta. “We have them in all the other neighborhoods. I work with senior service staff to identify a location and funding. It’s going to involve both city and state, and the federal government. Just like the center for teenagers.
Garcia said a center for the elderly was “absolutely necessary” on the south side.
But he said he didn’t want to distract his attention from some of the other issues that District 3 faces, including crime and the lack of parks and malls.
He said he was open to making these changes at the governing body.
“People feel like their voices are not being heard,” Garcia said. “How can we change this? Well, you get involved. That’s what I do. I get involved.