Out of the Running

Santa Fe District 1 Councilor Renee Villarreal announced Monday she will not seek a third term representing the north side and threw her support behind a candidate running to replace her on the city’s governing body.

“When I first started on this path as an elected official, I indicated that I would commit to two terms (eight years), and then step down to create space for the next leader as part of my values of building community leadership and ensuring diverse voices have access to positions of power,” Villarreal said in a statement to SFR.

In turn, the councilor said she had decided not to seek a third term.

The announcement creates a second open seat on the council in city elections this November.

One of two seats from each of the city’s four districts will be on the ballot in the Nov. 7 contest. District 2 Councilor Michael Garcia and District 4 Councilor Jamie Cassutt are running for re-election. But District 3 Councilor Chris Rivera said last week he would not seek another term.

Villarreal, a community planner who first earned the seat in 2016 after a four-way contest, praised Alma Castro, a local organizer and owner of Café Castro, who announced last week she would seek the seat representing District 1.

“I am thrilled to see another woman of color run for public office and am proud of Alma Castro for stepping up! I have known Alma through the decades and have appreciated her leadership as a community organizer and small business owner,” Villarreal said. “As a local Santafesina, she is running for the right reasons.”

Villarreal’s statement said she would next be “spending more time with my family and taking care of my physical and mental health, which have been compromised in the past year.”

She was among sponsors of a controversial measure floated at City Council and ultimately withdrawn earlier this year that would have rebuilt the Plaza obelisk.

Following redistricting, District 1 will extend from Siler Road north along Cerrillos Road, taking in part of the South Capitol neighborhood and downtown as well as the rest of the north side. (View a map of the district here.)

Castro and any other candidates running to represent District 1 will need to collect signatures from registered voters in the district by August to qualify for the ballot.

In District 1, candidates will need at least 92 signatures, though the total number will not be finalized until next month.