Our DMO of the Month Hits the Ground Running
In American politics, we typically imagine that large shifts in public discourse happen every 4-8 years. The common perception is that a new President heralds an overall change in our outlook and discussion. Working at the local level affords DMOs a more nuanced view. We see how the conversation constantly changes, as mayors and council members are elected across the nation at an interval of months rather than years. Santa Fe’s mayor heralds one of these new directions in public discourse. Elected this past March, he is no stranger to politics, having previously served as the President of the National Association of Counties and as the Chair of the New Mexico Democratic Party. Our DMO of the Month has immediately taken action and displayed values emblematic of a new American identity. Meet Javier Gonzales, Mayor of Santa Fe and DMO of the Month for September.
Local officials taking the time to directly engage with their constituents is part of a growing trend towards transparency and accountability. Mayor Gonzales has made a point to communicate more over social media, and increase the hours his office is open to receive Santa Feans. He has also appointed a new police chief, who early in his tenure has made community policing a focus of the department. Municipal government has the benefit of close interaction with the neighbors you represent, and many Democrats are choosing to take advantage of that proximity by creating a more open and responsive government.
Just after his inauguration, Gonzales passed his People to the Plaza initiative. This bill closed the historic central district of the city to vehicles, making a deliberate choice to promote foot traffic over the noise, pollution, and crowding of cars. He has also sought increased fines for cell phone use while driving, which the city council recently passed. The mayor is also testing a pilot program where free shuttles transport university students downtown, allowing them to take part in the nightlife and contribute to the local economy. This focus on transportation changes the neighborhood dynamics of Santa Fe, and reflects an ongoing shift in cities towards better living over busier living.
Mayor Gonzales spearheaded the creation of a number of new groups taking aim at modern problems. His Children, Youth and Families Community Cabinet focuses on drawing together resources, funding, and ideas to improve services outside the classroom. Prenatal care, early childhood education, mentorships, and workforce preparedness are all topics the cabinet will discuss. Turning his focus to the ongoing threat climate change presents to cities, Gonzales created the Climate Action Task Force. The task force will research definitive action Santa Fe can take around sustainability, green jobs, energy, and other resource issues stemming from increasingly extreme weather patterns. There are growing calls to investigate how climate change will impact cities, and to create educational opportunities outside the classroom. Mayor Javier Gonzales is on top of these concerns and has made addressing them a priority early in his first term.
New Mexico’s climate necessitates that residents manage sparse resources wisely, and Gonzales has made specific efforts to identify where the city can do better. He included Santa Fe in the National Mayor's Challenge for Water Conservation, and this year the city placed in the top ten for its size category. The mayor has called for a stronger presence of forests in areas facing water retention issues, as well as increasing the number of community gardens. Another focus is reducing greenhouse gas emissions through better public transportation and green technology. Like many up and coming mayors, Gonzales is committed to practical environmentalism at the municipal level.
Mayor Gonzales has hit the ground running after his spring election. In the first six months he has passed legislation focused on better communities, formed task forces to act on critical issues facing Santa Fe, and pushed to address global concerns at the local level. Our nation is learning that city hall is the first place to look when we want a prompt solution. Active and engaged leaders like Javier Gonzales keep the discussion moving, and respond to the immediate needs of our villages, towns, and cities. Mayors like Javier are changing the face of America in spite of wider efforts to hold the country back. His energy and fast action is why we have named him DMO of the Month for September.
Javier Gonzales is the first openly gay mayor of Santa Fe. He is the Vice President of Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability at a local real estate firm, a former county commissioner, and the former chairman of the New Mexico Democratic Party. Gonzales is a graduate of New Mexico State University, and helped manage the family’s radio station before entering into politics. The father of two daughters, Javier’s own father was also mayor of Santa Fe from 1968-1972.