Santa Fe County Commission hopefuls both have troubles on record

October 27, 2018 GMT

Sexual harassment and substance abuse allegations mar the histories of the two candidates vying to represent voters in Santa Fe County’s District 3.

Mike Anaya, a 54-year-old rancher running for the County Commission seat as an independent, faced allegations of sexual harassment by an employee of the New Mexico Association of Counties in 2009, when he was both a county commissioner and a member of the association’s board, according to county documents. The Association of Counties paid out an undisclosed settlement in the case.

Anaya, who resigned from the association’s board shortly after the allegations surfaced, refused to discuss the issue in any specific terms.

Rudy Garcia, 47, the Democratic candidate, who works as the legislative liaison for the county and was appointed to a Santa Fe school board seat in December, has a history of arrests on suspicion of driving while intoxicated and domestic violence.

He also told Santa Fe police in 1999 that he had a “cocaine problem,” according to a police report.

Anaya was first elected to a County Commission seat in 2003 and became an Association of Counties board member in 2005. Steve Kopelman, executive director of the association,told The New Mexican that Anaya served as its president from 2008-09.

Anaya’s troubles began in 2009, when association employee Renee Archuleta — now Renee Baker — and her husband at the time, Michael Archuleta, filed separate complaints with Santa Fe County and the New Mexico Association of Counties alleging sexual misconduct.

In a letter to the county, Baker’s attorney, Yvonne Quintana, alleged Anaya had sexually harassed Baker and created a “hostile workplace environment.”

The letter does not go into detail about the harassment but requested Baker be placed on administrative leave while the county investigated the allegations.

“She does not feel that she is able to work at this time,” Quintana wrote, “and is presently under the care of her physician and psychologist.”

Archuleta’s letter to the Association of Counties warned that he intended to sue and alleged Anaya engaged in three years of “illicit sexual conduct” toward his wife, ultimately resulting in harm to the family and damage to the couple’s son.

Archuleta estimated damage to his family was worth $10 million, The New Mexican reported at the time.

Anaya resigned from the New Mexico Association of Counties in July 2009, a few months after Baker accused him of harassment. He did not address the allegations in his resignation letter. Instead, he said he “cannot commit the time the Board and the Association deserves,” while also juggling his County Commission duties and personal business.

Kopelman said the Association of Counties paid a settlement in the harassment case before it went to court. He would not provide the settlement amount, saying confidentiality was a key factor in the agreement.

Attempts to reach Baker, Archuleta and Baker’s attorney were unsuccessful.

Anaya declined to discuss or answer any questions about the case, except to say: “I do not condone sexual harassment in any workplace.”

Following the allegations, Kopelman said, the Association of Counties adopted a new code of conduct and updated orientation for board members.

Roman “Tiger” Abeyta, a current Santa Fe city councilor who served as county manager at the time of the allegations against Anaya, said he recalled the incident but thought it had nothing to do with the county.

“The only thing that I recall is that it was related to his work with the Association of Counties,” Abeyta said. “We weren’t involved in that at all.”

Abeyta said he doesn’t know of any other allegations against Anaya while he served on the County Commission.

Garcia, Anaya’s opponent in the District 3 race, has a history in handcuffs.

According to court records and Santa Fe police logs, he was charged with DWI four times, pleading guilty twice, in 2003 and 2007, and serving more than two weeks in jail on one of those charges. He was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence in 2005, police records show, and was the subject of an investigation into cocaine possession in the late ’90s.

Two of the DWI cases were dropped, and police did not pursue charges in the domestic violence case, court records indicate.

A police report from 1999 says an anonymous caller told officers they had seen Garcia with “a large amount of cocaine” inside a county vehicle he used. Police said they had been looking into Garcia’s possible cocaine use and that the allegation was “consistent with information that has been received in the past by members of the Narcotics Unit.”

Police searched Garcia’s county office and county vehicle with a drug dog, the report says, and while the dog “hit inside a file cabinet” in the office and again in the center console of the vehicle, police did not find any drugs.

“Mr. Garcia advised us that he had developed a cocaine problem and had last used cocaine the previous evening,” the police report says.

Garcia reportedly told police the habit was because of the stress of his job.

Asked about his criminal past earlier this month, Garcia told The New Mexican he’s not backing away from his public duties.

“I’m committed to the schools and committed to this community,” Garcia told The New Mexican again Wednesday.

“I need to own up to this. I made mistakes involving alcohol, and I take responsibility for it. In the past 10 years I have definitely matured, and I want to improve myself and those around me.”