Tonight my wife Antoinette and I attended the ward elections for the Santa Fe County Democratic Party. In tonight's elections each ward met at their own tables and voted for a ward coordinator and vice coordinator and a number of delegates based on how many registered democrats were in your particular ward. My ward had 12 delegates to elect and two of those are automatically taken by the elected coordinator and vice coordinator. The elections were held at the NEA building on Botulph Road.
These elections really will make a difference next Tuesday April 7, 2009 when the newly elected delegates will vote for the chair of the Santa Fe County Democratic Party. Minnie Gallegos who has been the chair of the Santa Fe Democratic party will step down after leading the party since 2001. Jose Morfin a retired DOT worker and long time Santa Fe Democratic party worker and former President of the Young Democrats is running for the chair position against Richard Ellenberg a retired attorney who moved here from Georgia and has been active in the Santa Fe Democratic party for the last 4 years.
My wife and I arrived about 20 minutes early and it became quickly apparent that both the Morfin and Ellenburg camps had brought in many new people to the ward elections. This is common as candidates try to get pro delegates elected in each of the wards. People wanting to become ward coordinator also bring neighbors or others to secure their vote and become coordinator. The only requirement for voting for and running for delegates is that you are a registered democrat in the ward you are either voting in or running for delegate. Now many people may look at this as trying to stack the deck in your favor but really this is democracy at its best and it serves to bring new people into the democratic party meetings and get them involved. Some show up only on voting day and never return but some stay involved and this is good for the party.
As I worked the room, ( I am still a politician) I noticed a pretty large contingent of pro democrats for each County Chair Candidate, they were identified by pro stickers and name tags that many of them wore. Some like myself were not wearing candidate tags but I did not talk to anyone who was undecided. The split seemed very large along racial lines with most Hispanics supporting Jose Morfin and most Anglo's supporting Richard Ellenburg. There were other dividing lines as well , most non native Santa Feans (defined by me as those not born here or having lived most of their lives here) were for Richard Ellenburg, while most of the Democrats in attendance whom I knew as being native Santa Feans were for Jose Morfin. Note: this is a generalization based on my observations so if you support a candidate and did not fit into these categories (and I am sure many did not) please don't take it personally.
In my ward I was elected a delegate, with my wife elected an alternate. In my ward of the 12 delegates elected it appeared that approximately 10 were leaning or actual Morfin supporters while two were not giving their preferences away. Most other wards I saw seemed either evenly split or leaning towards Morfin. At least two wards I visited ended up with apparent unanimous Morfin supporters as delegates. Now there were many wards that I visited well before the votes were taken and many that I visited afterwards. I could only get a sense of the delegates from those I visited after the elections had taken place.
In attendance at his ward was former ward chair Bernie Logue y Perea who resigned as ward coordinator last year to back a green party candidate in the PRC race. It appears that he is back in the democratic camp this year. I am sure he will have some fences to mend if he is to become any where near as involved as he once was in the Democratic Party.
It will be an interesting election next Tuesday and an important one. As we prepare for many county and state wide elections in 2010 the faces of the Santa Fe Democratic party elected on Tuesday will be counted upon to make a difference and work to ensure the Democrats retain their dominance in Santa Fe County and pull their weight for the state wide candidates. In the past years fund raising and coordination has been a problem in Santa Fe County and the next Chair must tackle those issues head on.