Challenger takes on District 4 incumbent
This year, on candidate filing day at the end of March, former county deputy assessor Victor Baca filed as a challenger for the seat in the upcoming primary election, thrusting Holian back into campaign mode.
Holian says she wants to finish things she started in her first term. Baca said he was prompted to join the race by people in his neighborhood who are unhappy with the status quo in Santa Fe County government.
Retired physicist Holian's first foray into local government was a six-year stint on Santa Fe County's Development Review Committee. When she first ran for elected office in 2008, she said she was running because she felt she could "make a difference" at the county.
Holian looked back at that wide-eyed candidate of three-plus years ago a little ruefully during a recent interview.
"When I first ran, I didn't know what to expect," she said. "I had all these highfalutin ideas about sustainability, but what I've realized is a lot more of the job is helping communities solve their problems."
One of the communities whose problems Holian has helped address is Cañoncito, the small settlement near the San Miguel County line, which for years has had problems with water quality and infrastructure.
Holian supported a push to bring clean water to the community via a well and infrastructure improvement project that's still in the works, and to add Cañoncito to the county's water utility.
She said in a written statement that her experience during a recent meeting on the project cemented her decision to run for a second term.
"The people of Cañoncito were ecstatic," she wrote. "At last, there was a way out of their nightmare. Everyone at the meeting was emotional, including me, at the thought that the county was finally going to make their lives substantially better. This is when it became crystal clear to me why I am running for re-election."
Holian also spearheaded efforts to start a renewable-energy rebate program that would have given long-term, low-interest loans to county property owners to help them pay for energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes. The proposal ran into legal hurdles at the federal level, but she hopes that that it might be revived in some form.
After joining the commission, Holian voted for lending $6.5 million to developers of a private film studio south of the city. She also voted to pay $7 million to buy a ranch near La Cienega from would-be real-estate developers who faced opposition from nearby residents, although the county had and still has no plans for what to do with the property, which includes a luxury home with a swimming pool. Both decisions have emerged as sore issues for some county residents.
She still supports the studio project and stops short of saying the ranch purchase was a mistake.
Holian says she'll be more prepared if elected to a second term. "Now I do have a better idea of how things happen at the county," she said. "What questions to ask, what I should stay on top of."
Going forward, Holian said, "job number one" is to get the county's new land use code completed. Promoting locally grown food and energy-efficient retrofits are also goals, she said.
Holian has been endorsed by the Sierra Club and the local branch of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.
Victor Baca has worked in government for most of the past 30 years. He was deputy director of the state Property Tax Division, a deputy assessor in Los Alamos and a deputy assessor at Santa Fe County before his retirement in 2010.
Baca says people in his neighborhood "have been kinda upset" by some of the things they have seen going on at Santa Fe County and he thinks he "could be the change agent," so he decided to run.
"I think the county is not going in the right direction financially," he said in a written statement.
He cited the county's purchase of the Santa Fe Canyon Ranch and the decision to underwrite the Santa Fe Studios project as two indicators that the County Commission hasn't been fiscally responsible at a time when "people are having a hard time buying groceries and gas."
"People tell me they are afraid we are going to get stuck with a white elephant," Baca said of the studio project.
Baca said that when he went door-to-door campaigning residents also expressed concern about the county's decision not to approve an application from the O Centro Espirita a Beneficente Unido Vegetal (a Christian-based religious organization that uses a hallucinogenic made from two Amazonian plants as its sacrament) to build a temple in the Arroyo Hondo area southeast of Santa Fe.
Some Arroyo Hondo area residents opposed the development, citing concerns that contaminants from the tea might get into the water table and about impaired drivers leaving the temple's late-night services.
UDV has since filed a lawsuit challenging the decision on religious-freedom grounds.
Baca said people he talked to worry that the case could end up costing the county millions of dollars in legal fees.
On other matters, Baca said his neighbors in the Rabbit Road area want something done about the increased traffic on that road, which some use to access to the Santa Fe Community College campus off Richards Avenue.
"We have kids that live on that road," said Baca, who is president of his neighborhood association. "The signs have helped a little, but the only fix is an interchange at Richards Road. I would like to see that done in my lifetime."
With regard to county borrowing to fund projects, Baca said he would like to see the county "not bond for awhile until the economy gets better. That would reduce property taxes."
Contact Phaedra Haywood at 986-3068 or email@example.com.
Education: Santa Fe High School graduate; real-estate appraiser certificate from The University of New Mexico.
Experience: Former state Property Tax Division deputy director; former deputy assessor in Santa Fe and Los Alamos counties; real-estate broker and appraiser; Vietnam veteran; former member of the New Mexico National Guard.
Personal: Married; two adult children; four grandchildren; enjoys camping, fishing, hiking and working out at the gym.
Campaign information: email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recently read or favorite book: "I just began reading Ageless Body, Timeless Mind by Deepak Chopra."
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Occupation: County commissioner.
Education: Bachelor of physics from University of California at Berkeley.
Experience: Worked at Los Alamos National Laboratory for more than 20 years as a computational physicist.
Personal: Married to Brad Holian for 28 years; two stepsons; three grandchildren. Hobbies include gardening, reading, horseback riding, visiting the back country and working on restoration projects on land the couple owns on Glorieta Mesa.
Campaign information: website: vote-kathy-holian.blogspot.com; email email@example.com.
Recently read or favorite book: Currently reading two books: "When my husband and I went to the Grand Canyon for a brief break this spring, I picked up Death in the Grand Canyon by Michael P. Ghiglieri and Thomas M. Myers. The second book I'm reading is Lost in Translation by Eva Hoffman."