Disappointed with Primary Results? Join the Crowd, but Stay Involved

Also in today’s blog info on Monday’s Poor People’s Campaign Direct Action and a San Francisco innovation: transforming a public library into a library+public health+very-low-income rental housing, a clever model worth exploring in NM.

Libraries as Community Centers and Very Low-Income Rental Sites: Wow

Once again, Next Cities has identified a remarkable concept that has application anywhere in NM with a library(ies) co-locating health services, engagement services and very-low-income housing. San Francisco’s Mission Bay development was a big topic when Roxanne and I lived in the Bay Area. Someone involved in the process came up with a novel idea.

Individuals who are homeless already use our libraries to use the internet, to seek community, and as a welcome environment to escape hostile weather. What if we placed some services that are critical to these individuals on site at the library?  And given the lack of affordable property in San Francisco, what if we placed affordable rental housing on top of that library? Well, this worked out so well in Mission Bay, San Francisco Supervisors are now examining if they couldn’t retrofit other libraries and place affordable rental units above those libraries. “We are in an affordability crisis and we need to maximize our existing public land for 100 percent affordable housing,” Supervisor Fewer tells Next City in an email. “It would be a missed opportunity to not pursue adding affordable housing above newly renovated public resources, like our libraries.”

As reported in Next Cities, now Chicago has just completed such a project (above left) and New York is in the planning stages for placing affordable housing atop its newly planned library. Given how Santa Fe is discussing moving LeFarge library to the Santa Fe University of Art & Design, might there be something to learn from San Francisco, Chicago and New York?

Let’s be fair about developing very low-income rental housing: it is a very difficult thing to do without significant public investment. But it isn’t okay for developers, cities and counties to just throw up their hands and do what is easier, build market rate housing with developers paying a relatively small fee to build market rate housing without including the ‘required’ 15% setaside for affordable housing units. Recently, Broadstone Rodeo announced a $34 million project by Titan Development on about 9 acres east of the Santa Fe Rail Trail. It is expected to start leasing by fall 2019 and be complete early the following year. Rents will reflect the market; the one- and two-bedroom units may rent for as much as $1,300 monthly,  Instead of having to develop 15% of the 188 units for below market housing, Titan Development paid a $240,000 fee deposited in the City’s Affordable Housing Trust. Titan commented that without that option this market rate development could not have occurred and Councilor Harris indicated that while it is important to develop housing for very low-income renters, housing needs to be developed “across the spectrum.”

But if Santa Fe and other jurisdictions in NM are going to develop housing for very low-income residents, they will need to stop throwing up their hands and pointing to how difficult that challenge is and begin to examine options that require substantive commitments to solving the problem. We have vacant, city-owned lots throughout the City. We have SFUAD, and we have creative ideas for how to address the need for very-low income rental housing. We need to convene an action team with an explicit task: Develop 500 units of low-income and very low-income housing during the Mayor’s first term of office. Or something like that. And then do it.

What has been done in San Francisco and Chicago and what is being done in NY  is the kind of outside the box thinking that we need to consider here in NM. In researching housing innovation across the nation, as part of Roxanne and my national Listening Tour, we have found other examples of cities transforming vacant land into mixed use developments with significant commitments to very low income housing linked to wealth accumulation strategies to help low-income residents build their wealth. There is also expertise in housing innovation in ABQ and Santa Fe, especially via Chainbreaker’s partnerships with a nationwide affordable housing coalition. We need to bring those folks to the table and get this done. As long as addressing “the complete spectrum” is the goal, the low-hanging fruit, market rate housing with small fees going to the Housing Trust Fund or large developments with a handful of affordable units, is what we will get done.  That is simply not enough. To read more about the library-affordable housing concept, click here.

Thoughts on Primary Disappointment.

I had an interesting Friday morning. First Roxanne told me that she had read on Facebook that some progressives were lamenting the NM primary results and considering exiting the Democratic Party. A few hours earlier I was scanning comments on a Santa Fe New Mexican article on the election. I found comments from a couple of active Democrats in Carl Trujillo’s Dist. 46 who were considering exiting the Democratic Party because the progressives were taking over.

I well appreciate what disappointment feels like. As most all of you know, Roxanne and I ran the SantaFe4Bernie campaign. We all know how that ended. We also experience daily the repercussions of many Sanders’ supporters either sitting on their hands or offering lukewarm support for the Clinton campaign. The impulse makes perfect sense. Primaries are contentious affairs and it is rare that one ends with the losing candidate immediately chiming in with hearty congratulations and a commitment to working hard for the winning candidate. It did happen in House District 1 where Damian Lara instantly offered his heartfelt congratulations to Deb Haaland, encouraging his supporters to help her win a seat in the US House. Jeff Apodaca, in a bitterly contested race for the Dem. nomination for Governor, also posted a gracious congratulations to Michelle Lujan Grisham. Closer to home, I have seen no such evidence of congratulations flowing from Debbie Rodella or Carl Trujillo.

I ask that all of you who were disappointed with the primary results consider two things:

  • Change is a long-haul process. You don’t win every battle, the world doesn’t end with one defeat and each defeat then offers opportunities to learn; and
  • The lesser of two evils is infinitely better than the evil itself–to wit: Donald Trump.

I ask those of you who supported Jeff Apodaca or Joe Cervantes or Garrett VeneKlasen or Rick Miera or Bill McCamley or Sedello-Lopez to take a few days to dwell on the primary results and then to consider that while your progressive choice did not win, there were important victories for progressives across the state.

  • Steve Fischmann ousted Sandy Jones from his PRC seat, a huge win for the environmental community, for ratepayers and for the Four Corners–in desperate need for a just transition from fossil fuels;
  • A near win by newcomer Janene Yazzie, who had she won would have instantly transformed the PRC but who in losing valiantly has forged new alliances committed to green land, water, and energy policy—something to build upon to advance policies and practices that will protect and preserve our natural resources; and
  • Two huge victories in Northern New Mexico with Susan Herrera ousting Debbie Rodella and Andrea Romero removing Carl Trujillo from their respective Roundhouse seats.

There is no way to overstate the importance of these wins. The PRC makes energy policy for our state and regulates our utility providers, PNM, El Paso Electric, etc. In a state with an energy portfolio of only 9% renewables,despite ranking 2nd for solar potential and 4th for wind potential, and in a context of declining costs for solar, wind and solar storage, it is clear that more effective regulation of these utilities is required to mandate significantly greater investment in renewables. Clearly, PNM has not gotten this message as its most recent proposal for replacing the fossil fuel generation anticipated with the closure of San Juan and Four Corners coal plants, is to double down on nuclear and natural gas. And so removing Jones from office is a major win and now we must fight to ensure that Fischmann is victorious over whoever the GOP opponent is. The GOP race was decided by only 30 votes and is having a recount with results in July.

As to the Roundhouse, over months of conversation with progressive lobbyists and legislators, Retake volunteers were told repeatedly that Rodella and Trujillo were the two most important impediments to passing good Democratic legislation. We were also told that they were close to unbeatable. And yet, strong grassroots campaigns led to wins by their opponents, Susan Herrera and Andrea Romero.

Did progressives win every race? No, not by a long shot. Do we still have reason to be engaged in the 2018 general election and enthusiastically push for the winning nominees we had campaigned against during the primary?  I think so. Consider: we are likely to have an even more progressive House in the Roundhouse in 2019. We have growing grassroots networks developing throughout the state and we have some very clear choices. I don’t care how passionately you campaigned for Peter D and the Jeff Apodaca, you must realize the stark difference between a Governor Lujan Grisham and a Governor Pearce. After 8 years of playing only defense, with MLG as Governor and with Rodella and Trujillo out of the picture, we have an opportunity to pass one good bill after another and expect them to be signed. 

So please, take some time and some deep breaths and then get in the game. Retake will be providing contact information for campaigns at the state and legislative district level. And if you simply can’t stomach a candidate you’ve fought against, take a less partisan approach and support voter registration efforts (only 33% of Dems voted in the primary) but please do not sit on the sidelines. Not even two years of Donald Trump must have taught all of us something about being too purist in general elections. Remember: elections are not a popularity contest, your vote is not signaling your support for a candidate, it is your way of determine the political environment in which you want to operate for the next two or four years. So, unless you want to live with another GOP governor and a GOP Lt. Governor, Auditor or Land Commissioner, use your vote strategically and before that use your time and money strategically, as well.

The Poor People’s Campaign in New Mexico

Monday, June 11, 2pm, Roundhouse
Teach-in and Rally, the Fifth of Six Non-violent Moral Fusion Direct Actions
Theme for this Action: Everybody’s Got a Right to Live:
  • Health and Dental Care,
  • Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security
  • Wages, Unions and Collective Bargaining,
  • Women, the Disabled and LBGTQ,
  • Housing and Transportation

Please share and use first link below to RSVP. Second link is for our Facebook Event, please share and RSVP there, as well. Thank you for your time and support.



Categories: Economic Justice, Community & Economic Development, Election, Political Reform & National Politics

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13 replies

  1. I of course agree that the “lesser of 2 evils” can be way better than the alternative although I never thought Mrs Clinton was evil. But what about the active Democrats wanting to leave the party because “Progressives are taking over”? What do they mean by that and what do they fear? Is there anything we can do to heal their wounds? What do they mean by “progressives”? Is it different from what we mean? After all Carl Trujillo was enthusiastically progressive regarding animals and doubtless some other good bills as well. Which means there are points of agreement we could possibly build on.

    • By “progressives” we mean the huge, moneyed interests that support a certain type of Democrat while vilifying others. I encourage you to read this story which got lost in the HD46 vitriol.


      It is really two flavors of progressives with very different priorities. Those of us out here(northern part of HD46), grouped with citified “progressives” have a harsh reality of our traditional communities overpowered by the need for the city to grow. It sucks up our water resources, it kills our traditional communities and agricultural traditions. It rewards those that will fight for the 100% rating on whatever special interest there is, while punishing those that thoughtfully measure the will of ALL their constituents and sometimes make one or the other angry. It also enables votes universally passed by all Democrats to suddenly become fodder for demonization.

      Next on my agenda will be the creation of a rural and traditional community lobby. One who can flex its muscle by organizing these disenfranchised voters and legislators. If the city folk wish to lose these Democratic voters; lifelong Dems who vote, in order to drown them out and shame them for their viewpoints, they are welcome to do that.

      Yes, Trujillo advocated for renewables and animal welfare and many other great causes. Some of the votes he took have also been wholly mischaracterized, a practice that we should all eschew. He also knew the unique concerns of the more rural parts of his district, which you will clearly see if you study the urban vs. rural precinct vote returns.

      My community had the votes to win, and they didn’t show up in the numbers necessary, and that is my problem. The difference between what Paul terms a “grassroots” effort, which was actually a heavily funded effort by out of district organizations such as his, and the dozens of working people of the Valley that actually did grassroots organizing for Carl’s campaign, couldn’t be clearer.

      Given the odds, I am more than proud of the effort we made. Losing by 300 votes out of 6000 while $200K is tossed out to fight against you and a band of volunteers is nothing to be ashamed of. It took them all that to beat us, and they barely did that.

      Paul listened to two hours of my community’s issues, then dismissed it all as less important than his agenda. That is the usual treatment we get. So, I’ve got to teach my community to take voting more seriously, or they will be railroaded by these candidates in the future.

      There should be a place for all of us in this tent. I am progressive. I am a realist, too. Nobody knows this part of the district better than me (ok, Carl does).

      You need to stop thinking about this as differing viewpoints. It isn’t. It is a difference of prioritization. $15 an hour makes no difference to my community if all their water is gone. More progressive taxation doesn’t matter if they cannot sell their homes, or their communities are ravaged by drug addiction. I haven’t found the right data set yet, but I can also tell you that the mean income of the voters for Andrea and the voters for Carl would show a stark picture of this divide. Progressives love to talk about the Poor People’s Campaign, when all they have to do to meet poor people is drive 20 minutes north of the city.

      Nobody I know quit being a Democrat on June 6th. We are more determined than ever to fight what we know to be coming. None of us stopped organizing or working on June 6th. The only thing that happened on June 6th is that we lost our voice. We’ll get it back, and it won’t take long, either.

      • This is the kind of tempered and respectful commentary I welcome. We really do want our perspective challenged, just in dignified terms. Where I disagree with what you have written, Heather, or where I would add a qualifying comment:

        1. After meeting with you, I didn’t dismiss what you had to say or the easement / water issues. Rather I went to listen to other perspectives, pueblo, county, and politicians…. I also exchanged emails with several of your allies and with some of our leadership who live in 46 (the northern districts, not Santa Fe). I also read a ton of stuff, some from folks very strongly aligned with you. I came away with a profound understanding for why many in your community trust and support Carl, but I also came away with a sense that Andrea may be better suited to actually be part of a solution to this issue rather than to strongly advocate for one side of the equation at the expense of the other. I know you fear she will only represent the pueblo, but I’d ask you to see this play out a bit before assuming this to be the case. If she does what you fear, she will face a very tough battle trying to win re-election. My hope is that over the next two years you find her to be a much better rep. than you fear she will be.

        2. I completely agree that there are differences between rural and urban NM and that Democrats need to find ways to address the needs of both. That is why our list of Legislative Priorities includes several rural-centric bills and why it does not include some very popular bills with progressives, e.g. we honored the difficulty of rural NM flipping to $15/hour within a couple years and opted for a more moderate raise in the minimum wage. That is also why Roxanne and I are touring rural NM for a month in August: Carlsbad, Deming, Ruidoso, Alamagordo, TorC, Silver City, Gallup, Farmington. We will hit north east NM another time. We have more to learn. But so often rural communities vote against their own economic and community interests because of divides with progressives on guns, abortion and other social issues. Finding a way to find common ground on economic and environmental issues while agreeing to disagree on social issues is a path I want to explore.

        3. It is not fair to call our favoring some progressive legislation caving to ‘special interests.’ Stricter gun control, women’s access to abortion, resisting NM being a dumping ground for uranium, and otherwise accelerating transition to renewables is not ‘special interests’ in the same way that the G&O industry, gun lobby, pharma, insurance and banking lobbies are ‘special interests’ and conflating the two does injustice to clarity and transparency. To me ‘special interests’ is really about corporate interests. Unions, women’s organizations, environmental organizations, and even pro-life and pro-gun lobbies are really advocates for people, some of whom disagree….but it is still differences among people. Gas & oil, pharma, banking lobbyists, predatory lending lobbying groups try to convey their positions in terms that sound like it is about people, jobs, etc. but it is really about their profit. Distinguishing between those kinds of ‘interests’ is important.

        4. I agree 1000% about the influence of outside money. Trujillo got some, so did Andrea. So did Lovejoy and it is the reason that Yazzie did not win. It is also why the soda tax debate got ugly and why most elections get ugly and I’d gladly get rid of all of it. It should be illegal.

        5. I do not think of Retake as an “outside” group. We are a NM non-profit that happens to include significantly more than 100 Dist. 46 supporters. Roxanne and I live across the street from Carl’s district and the Roundhouse representatives, no matter where they come from, weigh in on issues relevant to any district. We plan to be involved in 3-4 general election races in and around ABQ and very involved in the Fischmann race for PRC which is very geographically distant from Santa Fe. But we do not view that as anything like the kind of “outside interests” that our coming from the Koch brothers, G&O, or Bloomberg. Retake is building a statewide base in dozens of districts developing relationships with people who live in those districts and helping to empower and support them on state and local issues. So our focus is becoming distinctly statewide.

  2. Please heed this eloquent call for maturity in making choices between lesser of two evils. As progressives we tend to be idealists, principled and even romantic (to the point of entertaining utter government collapse followed by desperate heroic rebellion). But such behavior can also be childish and result in a future of no choice with not even the pretense of democratic rule. Please be pragmatic and united in stopping the enemies of freedom, the GOP.

  3. Thank you for your encouraging and perceptive observations on the Primary Election results, Paul. Indeed, it is the long haul that matters. Let’s all hang in there.

    Yours respectfully.

    Harold “Spike” Murphree
    Chair, Ward 22A, Bernalillo County

  4. What do we know about Theresa Becenti-Aguilar, who narrowly defeated Janene Yazzie and incumbent Lynda Lovejoy in the Public Regulation Commission District 4 primary election? Will she be any better than Linda Lovejoy?

    • I am just gathering information on this. From what I have been told, she might be a very erratic vote who is less likely to be 100% PNM, but she is not exactly pro-climate. That much I know. Yazzie would have been 1000% better. But I will report as I know more. Hope all is well, Pelican.

  5. Progressive has its roots with Teddy Roosevelt’s GOP. We are liberals that have been frightened away from that very honorable Iabel, if you check a definition of the term. Anti-liberal is truly a jack-booted Nazi, which Fox News must be held to account for.

  6. “…you must realize the stark difference between a Governor Lujan Grisham and a Governor Pearce.”

    Please continue to emphasize that.

  7. Allowing the “New Mexican” to frame and define the Rural/Urban divide is problem number one. There would be a heck of a lot less “Divide” if people had access all of the facts. The extreme poverty and despair is palpable in rural New Mexico too, but our local media only portrays the Gentleman Farmer, outliers, as Salient Exemplars.
    Now that Gresham is our Candidate, any criticism or discussion of the facts of our healthcare or social services, will be truncated to only the most obvious issues of the Martinez Administration. We had a really Ho Hum selection of candidates, the ones who mostly don’t challenge any status quo, and work well with the current batch of compromised individuals. They have grown complacent depending on our least worst vote.

  8. One more addition. Many of us who came from “cities” have chosen a rural way of life that honors water resources, agriculture, historical roots, and stand against large scale development. We seek affordable housing, a simpler way of life, and community. Not every one is an enemy. Take time to know who you are talking with and about, and discover the common values.

  9. Paul, maybe this could be condensed into a powerful Letter to the
    Editor so more people would be made aware of these ideas.

    • Maybe I’ll try to do that while being a passenger en route to Oklahoma City….Memphis….Knoxville and points beyond.

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