Santa Fe leaders postpone voting on mayor’s Cultural Committee proposal

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Months after Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber announced his intent to create a committee to handle controversial monuments in the city, city leaders are now getting a closer look at the details of the committee. Mayor Webber presented the proposal for the Culture, History, Art, Reconciliation and Truth Committee, or CHART Committee, to the city’s Public Works Committee on Monday night.

“I believe in this committee. I believe that we’ll select excellent people. I believe we’ll select people deeply concerned about finding consensus and healing,” Mayor Webber said in Monday’s meeting.

According to the proposal, three subcommittees would make up the 21-member CHART Committee. The group would be responsible for deciding the fate of controversial monuments in the city many say are tied to Santa Fe’s history but are also criticized for being oppressive to Native Americans.

A top priority for the group would be deciding what to do with the spot in the Plaza, where an obelisk once stood but was torn down after a protest earlier this month. The committee would also be tasked with getting public engagement and finding new opportunities for future art and events that the mayor said would embrace all sides of history.

According to the proposal, the CHART committee would have recommendations to the city by December 2022, which councilors said is too far away.

“I was thinking that this was going to really get at what we’re dealing with in today’s times,” Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler said. “But to wait until December 2022 makes this seem not of a priority of what we’re doing today. I don’t know that we’re solving that with this.”

Mayor Webber said more pressing issues like the Plaza could be decided before that deadline. Councilors also expressed concerns about the large size of the committee and if the mayor would have too much power choosing who is on it.

The cost of the endeavor, which is budgeted at $300,000, was also called into question. Mayor Webber said he is reaching out to different groups and philanthropies to help with funding.

Mayor Webber, also said he felt the presentation went well and that he was able to answer most questions councilors posed. The Public Works Committee voted to postpone moving the resolution forward and are working on amendments they’d like to see in the new proposal.

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