A Letter to the People of Santa Fe - From Alan Webber, Mayor
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Dear Fellow Santa Feans,
One year ago I stood on the stage of the Convention Center with my wife, Frances, by my side, put one hand on my family Bible, raised the other, and swore a solemn oath to serve you as the first full-time Mayor of Santa Fe.
One year later, I am grateful, optimistic, and energized—because of what I hear from you.
You feel a change in the way City Hall is working. Every day, our goal is to make Santa Fe the most user-friendly, eco-friendly, and family-friendly city in the country. Every day we live our values: Respect for all, opportunity for all, dignity for all, inclusivity for all, equity for all, and a purpose shared by all.
After one year in the Mayor’s Office, what are some of the changes that have made the most difference? And what are the changes that will come in the second year?
First, because I am the City’s first full-time Mayor, I have had the opportunity to assemble a team that represents the first real Administration in the City’s history. Make no mistake: Any organization, public or private, is only as good as the people who work in it. It’s the first rule of good management: Put people first.
We’ve assembled a remarkable team of talented people, with 13 new directors in leadership positions—including 8 women. It’s a team that’s a powerful blend of life-long Santa Feans, “boomerangers” who’ve returned home to serve their City, and new arrivals who’ve moved here determined to contribute. What they all share is a deep commitment to making Santa Fe a City that works—and works for all.
There’s another team whose tireless contributions must be recognized: the members of the City Council. What we’ve witnessed in the last year is a true team of elected officials—chosen by district, working for the good of the whole City. Our Council has come together to work collaboratively and constructively as genuine problem-solvers. They deserve all of our thanks.
Something as complex, diverse, and historic as this City’s government requires deep and systemic change. It’s fair to say that the defining characteristic of the City government I found one year ago was deferred maintenance—a natural consequence of our long-standing system of government.
We had deferred maintenance in the way the City was managed; in the internal culture of the City government; in the investments in hardware and software used to run the City; in the streets, roads, parks, buildings, and infrastructure of the City; in the critical areas of the City’s financial and human resources management. Deferred maintenance is another term for the status quo, not for change.
Here’s what deferred maintenance looks like: $250 million in long-overdue street and road improvements; 500 out-of-date computer stations waiting for upgrades; police officers who have not received the pay raises they deserve; an airport that is unable to add more service because of a lack of investment; large parts of the City without adequate broadband or cellphone coverage; a deficit of roughly 4,000 housing units; more than 100 chronically homeless Santa Feans; 3 City employees tasked with maintaining more than 100 miles of trails—and more. If we want Santa Fe to grow into the most user-friendly, eco-friendly, and family-friendly city in the country, we need to make systemic changes to the way City government works.
That’s what you elected me to do. In year one of my administration, that is the work we have begun. That is the platform we have built. That is the talent we have assembled. That is the change we have championed.
It’s impossible to capture an entire year in a single letter. Reciting numbers—the fact that we’ve cleared up a backlog of roughly 1,500 complaints from residents, for example—doesn’t capture the feeling of the progress we’ve made.
Instead of statistics, let me offer you a few of the unforgettable moments that mark this past year:
The evening we held our first City Council meeting at the Southside Library in front of 200 people—taking City government to the people, rather than making people come to their City government.
The days and nights of hard work put in by our City workers in response to the 1,000 Year Flood—an all-hands-on-deck approach that showed what a real team of City employees looks like, bringing relief to residents in all parts of our City.
The meetings—week after week in the Mayor’s Office—where representatives of the Caballeros, the Fiesta Council, the Archdiocese, and the All Pueblo Governors came together over prayer and shared values to achieve genuine reconciliation by retiring the Entrada and finding a new expression of faith.
The self-assessments we undertook to use the McHard Report as a road map to management improvement; to make our bad audit a tool for corrective action and a path to a clean audit; to take a hard look at the way we needed to change our implementation plan for the ERP software system; and a first-ever look at the staffing levels, response times, tools, training, and equipment for the Police Department.
The trip I took to the border with a group of mayors from around the country to bear witness to the cruel federal detention center where immigrant children were being separated from their parents—and the meetings I had in Santa Fe with honest, hard-working undocumented immigrants who were being harassed and arrested by ICE agents.
The night the City Council voted to adopt our Sustainability Plan, putting us at the forefront of the fight against climate change—and the day I signed the papers for the State’s first-ever green bond.
The evening we kicked off the Southside Summer program, where hundreds of moms, dads, and kids came to the GCCC for free swimming, free basketball, free ice skating, and a free movie—followed by a summer filled with film, food, music, and fun focused on the families on the Southside of Santa Fe.
The nights Frances and I served meals and visited with the guests at Pete’s Place—which prompted me to sign Santa Fe up as a member of the national Built For Zero movement to end chronic and veteran homelessness in our City.
The night the City Council unanimously voted to adopt a redevelopment framework for the mid-town campus that includes housing, higher education, and digital arts and entertainment—and agreed to make fighting against gentrification a part of our program.
The countless inspiring nights I’ve attended galas, auctions, balls, and fundraisers to support the incredible work our non-profits do on behalf of our City—testimony to the heart and spirit of volunteerism that makes Santa Fe such a special place.
These snapshots are a small sample of the ways I’ve seen us making positive change for Santa Fe—seen it, and more importantly, felt it. Unlike any other city in this country, we feel Santa Fe. Ours is a City where we all have a say. We all have a place. We all have a shared purpose.
For those of us who work for you, our purpose is simple: We give our best every day to help everyone in our City live their best lives.
That purpose will guide us as we move into year two.
Here’s the work before us:
Create a high-performing City government that is easy to do business with and delivers consistently great results. We will work hard every day to do the small, important things that make daily life better for everyone. And we will earn your trust to take on the big tasks that will make the future better for those who come after us.
Address our housing needs in every part of the City and in every type of housing—and do it in a way that contributes to safer, stronger, and more livable neighborhoods.
Invest in people—all of our people, from our youngest new-borns to our respected seniors. We will create a platform that puts people first and makes the City a trusted partner in helping all of our residents live lives of dignity, equity, and opportunity.
Attack climate change and support sustainability in everything the City does. We can and must be the most sustainable City in the country. With our Sustainability Plan as our guide, we will create our own local green new deal.
Promote good jobs with good wages in an economy that continues to diversify and grow. We have strong pillars in Santa Fe: tourism and hospitality, public service, health care, real estate, film, and digital entertainment. Now we’re becoming the best place in the country to start and grow a business—whether in farm-to-table food or data analytics.
Our future—and our kids’ futures—are right in front of us, hiding in plain sight.
In year one, we’ve made a start—very good start. All of us, working together, have created new openings and new opportunities, while preserving and protecting the way of living and the quality of life that make Santa Fe special. In year two, we’ll continue that work. After a good start we’ll write an even better second chapter.
I’m enormously grateful to you for your help, your support, your encouragement, your generosity of spirit, and your strength of commitment as we take on the tasks we’ve set.
Most importantly, thank you for the opportunity and the honor of serving as your Mayor.
We are blessed to be here, in this place, in this time, with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to do the work of keeping faith with the lessons of our heritage, forging a path to the promise of our future.