SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One New Mexico city is considering asking voters to reign in the mayor’s power. A resolution making its way through the Santa Fe City Council could curtail what the mayor is able to vote on in city government.
Santa Fe City Councilor Michael Garcia said in 2018, the city implemented a full-time mayoral position, meaning: “The mayor actually plays the role of a mayor and as a city councilor. And so, through discussions, through the City Council, we directed the Charter Review Commission to review and provide any recommendations in regard to potential separation of powers.”
A resident-led review commission looked at different ways to amend the city’s Charter. One of those recommendations was to remove the voting power from the mayor on City Council matters—only allowing the person in that position to vote in the event of a tie.
“This is, in my opinion, the first step to that separation of powers and have the mayor play more of executive role within the city government and have the City Council play more of that legislative role,” Garcia said. Currently, the mayor votes on all matters. Garcia said some of his colleagues have questioned if this is a problem, and why it’s being looked at now. He said this is what constituents want.
“I think folks in the community have felt that that is a little bit too much power for one position, and there needs to be a separation of powers,” Garcia said. He explained it’s not personal: “By no means is this a knock against the current mayor. This is a way that our system can be improved. That way for future instances there will be that separation of powers between the executive office which would be the mayor’s office, then you have the legislative office, which would be the city council.”
If the resolution passes, it’ll be on the ballot for voters to decide in November.
News 13 reached out to the Santa Fe Mayor’s Office for comment on this push. Mayor Alan Webber responded in a statement:
The Charter Review Commission suggested major changes to the roles of the City Council and that of the Mayor. The big idea was separating out an Executive Branch and a Legislative Branch, removing the Mayor from the Governing Body entirely. Out of that big idea has come a very small idea: A Mayor would only vote to break ties, but would still be part of the Legislative Branch. I’d like to see us get more working experience with the current structure and more serious consideration of growing the legislative powers of the City Council, rather than adopt this proposal. Changing our Charter is a big deal, and we should do it carefully and thoughtfully, after serious research and analysis.Mayor Alan Webber, City of Santa Fe