Carol Robertson Lopez, a candidate in the south-central District 4, is the biggest spender so far in the Santa Fe City Council campaigns.
As a group, the five candidates participating in the city’s first public campaign finance system — including Lopez — have doled out more money than the five who are using private donations.
And candidates haven’t always elected to spend the cash locally, according to finance reports filed Friday.
In-person absentee voting is already under way at the City Clerk’s office, though election day isn’t until March 6.
Any public money that candidates don’t spend on campaign expenses is supposed to be returned to the city for use in future municipal elections. No provision in the public finance law requires that city-provided funds be spent within the city.
Lopez, who narrowly lost her 2006 re-election bid after eight years on the council representing District 4, reported expenditures of $7,824 — more than half of the $15,000 given to her by the city.
Nearly $1,800 of that money went to consultant Mark Fleisher, who also got $2,800 of public money to advise District 2 candidate Peter Ives and District 3 candidate Chris Rivera. On reports from Lopez and Ives, he’s listed with a Santa Fe address while Rivera lists an Albuquerque office for Fleisher.
Impact Printing, a Santa Fe business on Trades West Road, also made thousands from city-funded candidates, including about $3,200 from the Lopez campaign. Lopez also spent money on “robo calls” and a telephone poll conducted by a New York firm, a service for which Rivera also paid the same company.
Challenging Lopez for the seat being vacated by Councilor Matthew Ortiz is former county magistrate Bill Dimas, a privately financed candidate.
Dimas loaned his campaign $2,009 and collected contributions of $6,715, including $5,000 from a fundraiser he held at the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge in January. Some of his largest individual contributions came from Floyd and Roberta Miller, a retired couple who donated $150; and Bill and Lee Bruce Rougemont, who donated $200. Salesman Robert Esquivel and Bernalillo County sheriff’s deputy Rubel Tafoya are among those who donated $100 each. Capital City Uniforms, run by Dimas’ cousin Benny Dimas, donated $350 to the campaign.
Dimas had his campaign printing split between an Arlington, Texas, company that made yard signs and The Printers Copy Center, a Santa Fe business that produced literature. He also advertised in The Santa Fe New Mexican, and Round the Roundhouse.
North-side incumbent Councilor Patti Bushee reported spending $2,629 of her public money allocation.
Expenditures include campaign signs worth more than $1,700 from a Hunstville, Ala., company and $285 to an Albuquerque company for “website revision services.” She hired Grace Communications of Santa Fe to design campaign material for $300.
Meanwhile, privately financed District 1 Challenger Houston Johansen — who missed qualifying for public money by just a few verified signatures — has raised $11,241 in contributions and spent $5,564.
Johansen’s campaign is largely funded by relatives, including $1,000 each from grandparents Hal and Glenn Lattimore and from uncle Michael Lattimore; and $920 from mother Mary Lattimore, all with addresses in Fort Worth, Texas.
James Garner, a Santa Fe engineer, also contributed the individual maximum of $1,000, as did Santa Fean Megan Lloyd Hill, whose occupation is listed as self-employed; Robert Estrin of Los Angeles; and Hollis Logan of Chicago. Johansen also collected $600 from Lillian Fishbein, who is also listed as a self-employed Santa Fe resident, and $300 from the New Mexico RPAC, a political action committee funded by real-estate agents. His biggest expenditures included paying campaign manager Alysha Shaw $1,000 and hiring in Albuquerque-based designer to produce signs.
The race in District 2 has the most candidates using public campaign financing of any race. Two of three contenders to fill a southeast-side district seat being vacated by Rosemary Romero are using taxpayer money.
District 2 candidate Peter Ives spent $6,749 while Bob Sarr spent $4,795. With a reported war chest of $1,150, Elizabeth “Dolly” Lujan has raised and spent the lowest amount of any of the 10 candidates seeking council seats.
Sarr’s biggest expenditures to date included $500 to local artist Christopher John Santos for campaign signs and $400 to someone who is working on a website that has not yet been posted. He also purchased advertisements on Capital City cabs, paid for door hangers and campaign fliers from Piñon Printing and had T-shirts made at Santa Fe Screen Printers.
Ives, an attorney, spent $1,649 on printing a campaign mailer at Impact Printing, a south-side Santa Fe business, but also gave $1,605 to the Fleisher firm The Victory Group.
Lujan, who said in an interview that she’s not planning to print much literature or do any mailings, has raised $1,150 and spent $69 so far, with most of her cash coming from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the public employee union.
In a three-way race for an open seat in southwest Santa Fe’s District 3, publicly financed candidate Chris Rivera has spent the most money, $4,554 — just under one-third of his taxpayer-funded allocation.
In addition to paying nearly $1,300 to Fleisher’s firm, The Victory Group, Rivera also hired Impact Printing and Ortiz Printing, two Santa Fe businesses, to publish $1,800 worth of materials in the last two weeks. “Straw polls” conducted by a New York company and signs from Resolution Graphics in Albuquerque are also among reported expenditures.
Privately financed candidate Gilbert Martinez loaned his own campaign $1,000 and has collected contributions of another $2,650. Martinez has spent about $2,463, including his biggest purchase to date of campaign signs from Stublefield Signs, a business with an Albuquerque address.
His largest campaign contributions so far have come from The Pantry Restaurant, which donated $450, and several individuals who gave $100 each, including Don Wiviott, a developer who unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate; Fidel Gutierrez, a banker; roofer Brian McPartlon; engineer Michael Crawford; and Rick C de Baca, whose family runs Big Joe Hardware.
Marie Campos, who in filings with the city describes her occupation as “non profit professional,” has the smallest budget in the District 3 race, raising a grand total of $1,885 to date. Campos’ largest contributions come from a $1,000 infusion from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Frank Montaño, a school board member and former city councilor donated $150; Art Michael, a former city prosecutor, donated $300; and Nick Salazar, a state representative from Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, gave $200.
Her largest expenditures were for postage and a radio advertisement with KSWV.
Political Action Committee
Supporters of a package of general obligation bond questions that will appear on the March 6 ballot have formed a political action committee called Community Works PAC.
So far, the only donation to the group is $1,000 from Carol Oppenheimer and Morty Simon, labor-law experts whose occupations are listed as teachers on a finance report. The contact address on the campaign filing is for Sandra Wechsler, a consultant who has managed previous campaigns for Mayor David Coss and represented a group called Keep Santa Fe Working that advocated for a property-tax increase last year.
Simon and Oppenheimer are known in the city for advocacy on labor issues, including helping to organize an effort to establish a municipal minimum wage. They have been longtime supporters of Coss, who along with several city councilors introduced the city legislation calling for the bond election. Simon is the PAC’s treasurer.
Contact Julie Ann Grimm at 986-3017 or email@example.com.