Two hopefuls will challenge incumbent Democratic state Rep. Andrea Romero in the June 7 primary in Santa Fe’s only close 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 is, covers the region north of the city including Pojoaque, Tesuque and Nambe; it also encompasses parts of the city, notably the Railyard and the area northeast of Siler Road. The district also shares land with four towns: 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 that 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 forced out of Santa Fe.
Middle-income households, burdened by college debt and low wages, haven’t received the support they need to invest in housing, says Salazar.
“We need a bigger middle class and it’s shrinking,” says Salazar, adding, “I see it especially living in Santa Fe County.”
Salazar, 30, a lifelong resident of the district, works for Los Alamos National Laboratory as a buyer for federal acquisitions. He sees the need for legislative support for small businesses as a way to help middle-income families and ensure 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 have a roof over their heads, and sometimes to his family. And that’s a lot of people in Santa Fe County.”
Santa Fe County Commissioner Henry Roybal, 52, sees the district’s affordable housing crisis as inextricably linked to the region’s fragile relationship with water.
Under the Aamodt settlement agreement, the state engineer severely restricted the drilling of new wells in the Nambe, Pojoaque, Tesuque basin, says Roybal. He laments the difficulty that owners in this region have in drilling new wells to supply water to new homes, “even in some areas where they want to subdivide a property.”
Roybal explains that new wells can be drilled with recognized water rights, but his constituents complain that the process is too complex and has prevented further drilling.
He says regional leadership needs to work with the state engineer to renegotiate how the community can access water to support new development and relieve pressure on the housing market that has driven median single-family home prices above half a million. Dollars.
Finishing his second term representing District 1 on the commission, Roybal says he already has good relations with his constituents. And that would extend to the House district, given the overlap.
“I make sure to answer and answer my phone,” he says. “I give my personal number”.
Roybal points to the $2 million in federal funds he obtained to expand broadband infrastructure along State Road 76 as a success in the commission. Improvements to the Pojoaque Valley Recreational Complex mark another.
Behavioral health initiatives are another priority that Roybal says he would address if elected. “We’re just looking at the crime rate that’s going on, homelessness, opioid addiction,” Roybal says, citing indicators of the need to bring better behavioral health services to communities.
The housing situation also occupies the thoughts of the owner.
“I’m very concerned about affordability for those who are looking for…a stable place to live, and there are a lot of people who have to relocate and look for more affordable options,” says Romero, 35, who is completing her second term. In the House. “But unfortunately, they don’t really exist right now.”
Romero is studying for a law degree at the University of New Mexico, as well as running a business that sells probiotic eggs.
To address the lack of supply, which Romero attributes to the overabundance of homes rented through Airbnb or other vacation companies, he would like to “discover how to potentially earn additional income for those owners who treat their homes like a business and really try to incentivize them.” to think of long-term rentals over short-term rentals.”
To further support tenants, Romero hopes to modernize landlord-tenant laws to provide more time for nonpayment. The current schedule, Romero explains, only gives tenants three days after their payment is due before the landlord can serve an eviction notice. She wants to extend that to at least 11 days.
Romero celebrated the passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act, which she co-sponsored, highlighting not only the economic benefits of the landmark legislation, but also the protections included in the legislation to regulate the use of water for cannabis cultivation.
She says cannabis growers face “the most rigorous water protections that we have for any industry in the state, and I think that’s kind of the gold standard for how other industries in the state can look, but also how we manage Water”.
The incumbent has bested her opponents many times over, raising more than $53,000, according to her first campaign finance report. The report filed by Salazar shows that she has raised just over $1,000; Roybal’s report indicates that she has raised over $5,000.
Although he will not face a challenger in June, Jay Groseclose will appear on the ballot in November as the Republican candidate for the 46th House District. race against Romero. Groseclose has $4,000 in his war chest, according to his campaign finance report.
Water issues are a top 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?” Groseclose says. “One thing I value very much is our vast landscapes, our beautiful horizons.”
He argues that the way communities are developing, with taller apartment complexes and more wind and solar power infrastructure, doesn’t align with his hopes for New Mexico’s future.
Groseclose also wants to address taxation in New Mexico by eliminating a Social Security income tax, which lawmakers partially won last session, and lowering 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 both the primary and general elections. Francisco López attempted to run against him, but López was disqualified for failing to gather enough signatures from qualified voters.