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Departing mayor, councilors bid farewell before election

March 2, 2018 GMT

It was mostly business Wednesday night at the City Council.

A statement resolution that established Santa Fe as a “compassionate” city. The minutiae of an arrangement to begin fixes on the deteriorating exterior of the historic train depot in the Railyard.

Then there was the context, of which councilors were well aware: Within a week’s time, the nine-person dais will be dramatically transformed.

The next time the council convenes, there will be a new mayor and at least three new city councilors, and possibly four.

Wednesday — with the feel of a sort of commencement ceremony — was the final meeting for both Mayor Javier Gonzales, who since 2014 has held the center seat in the chamber, as well as three-term Councilor Carmichael Dominguez, who decided to step down rather than seek re-election.

“By observing, listening sometimes sparring … it’s helped me, I believe, become a better individual,” Gonzales said of his councilors, adding a tribute to his city manager, Brian Snyder: “You’ve really gotten our city to a whole new level [from] where we started four years ago.”

Dominguez, in his final remarks, thanked city staff, his constituents and his family — and joked, referring to his late mother, “She’s up in heaven saying, probably, ‘Thank God you’re leaving.’ ”

And for several others who will appear on the ballot in next week’s election, it might’ve been a last go-round, too.

Councilor Ron Trujillo, a force of personality on the council since 2006, is making a run for Gonzales’ chair, leaving his south-side council seat open. Same deal for Councilor Joseph Maestas, a former mayor of Española ending his single term representing the southeast side. (Councilor Peter Ives, another candidate for mayor, will keep his seat if he’s not elected to the top post; his term runs through 2020.)

Councilor Signe Lindell, facing a challenger in her bid for a second term, toasted Trujillo as a “very good roommate” (the two share an office) and said she appreciated his work as a councilor. “You do this because you love this city,” she said.

Councilors who will remain on the dais — Mike Harris, Chris Rivera, Renee Villarreal and Ives — each issued fond send-offs to their departing colleagues, as well as those who might be back in another capacity.

“I’m going to miss this council,” said Villarreal, her voice wavering with emotion. “I’m hoping the councilors who come forward realize: We all have respect for each other.”

Contact Tripp Stelnicki at 505-428-7626 or tstelnicki@sfnewmexican.com.

COUNCIL IN BRIEF

Links lease: The convoluted and contentious search for a clubhouse-restaurant operator at the city-owned Marty Sanchez Links de Santa Fe golf course will begin from scratch — by default.

Councilors deadlocked 4-4 twice on a pair of motions: One to hand off the contested procurement process to an impartial mediator and another to simply award the clubhouse lease to El Sabor, which scored higher than the existing leaseholder, The Links Bar & Grill, in the city staff evaluation.

Without a positive action, City Attorney Kelley Brennan told the divided council, “We have a lack of approval, which is sufficient to us to tell us we need to re-solicit” the contract.

The inability to reach consensus reflected the sometimes tortured process. After a lengthy stretch of silence in which no councilor brought forward a motion, Councilor Carmichael Dominguez acknowledged, “There’s a lot of trepidation here tonight. I think that speaks to the complexity the governing body has created for itself in this.”

Flat tire: A European-style bicycle race that backers hoped might become a part of Santa Fe’s summertime series of annual events is no more. The proposed 97-mile Gran Fondo New York preliminary race, after numerous postponements over several months, was withdrawn Wednesday.

Randy Randall, executive director of Tourism Santa Fe, said he “could not find a path for the city to take the lead on this,” adding: “Maybe an opportunity in the future with some new thinking in city government.”