Santa Fe mayor attacks rival for ‘no’ vote on mask ordinance

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Recriminations about face-mask mandates are creating new tension between Democratic candidates in the election campaign for mayor in Santa Fe.

In a flier distributed by mail Friday, incumbent Mayor Alan Webber highlighted a dissenting vote by mayoral candidate and City Councilor JoAnne Vigil Coppler last year in the creation of a city ordinance requiring face masks, even outdoors, adding that Vigil Coppler cannot be trusted to be mayor.

The ordinance reinforced a statewide mask mandate from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, creating a separate petty misdemeanor. It was approved by a majority of the city council with the mayor’s endorsement in the early months of the pandemic, before vaccines were available.

Vigil Coppler said Friday that she opposed the ordinance because of concerns that it would be unenforceable — while highlighting that she still supported the statewide mask requirements.

“I have never, ever been been against masks, and this is a distortion,” Vigil Coppler said.

The ad from Webber’s campaign says Vigil Coppler voted no on a “life-saving citywide mask ordinance.”

“In the middle of a deadly pandemic, JoAnne Vigil Coppler had the chance to protect people’s lives by supporting our citywide mask mandate. She voted no,” the ad from Webber’s campaign says.

A third candidate in the race, Republican Alexis Martinez Johnson was given a citation in July 2020 for refusing to wear a mask on Santa Fe’s downtown plaza after being warned by police.

At the time, Martinez Johnson was in the midst of an unsuccessful campaign for Congress.

New Mexico currently requires face masks in public, indoor settings under a coronavirus health emergency declaration.