Former New Mexico television reporter hired as Santa Fe communications director

April 13, 2019

A former television reporter and anchor with six years’ experience as a public information officer for the city of Chicago will be the new public face of the city of Santa Fe and the administration of Mayor Alan Webber.

Lilia Chacon has been named the city’s new communications director, effective May 6.

Chacon, who will be paid $74,110 a year, replaces Matt Ross, who resigned in January to work for Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

Chacon, who grew up in the Chicago area, said in a telephone interview Friday that she always wanted to return to New Mexico, where she spent nearly five years working as a reporter and anchor for Channel 13 in the mid- to late 1980s.

“We used to joke about it at Channel 13 that New Mexico is like ‘Hotel California,’ ” she said, referring to the classic rock song by the Eagles. “You know, you can check out but you can never leave.”

Chacon said she has visited New Mexico at least once or twice a year. She said she got to know the state while producing and hosting a weekly “Outdoors Report” for Channel 13, then KGGM-TV.

Chacon, who has a sister who lives in Albuquerque, said she learned about the job in Santa Fe through City Councilor Signe Lindell, who she met some 30 years ago in Albuquerque. Though the two are Facebook friends, Chacon called Lindell an acquaintance and said they’ve probably seen each other only once in the past 30 years.

“I know you’re going to, I know the rap is, ‘Oh, did she get me my job?’ ” she said. “No. I got me my job.”

Chacon said she flew out to Santa Fe on her own dime to interview for the position.

“I came prepared,” she said. “I wanted this job.”

Chacon, who was among 37 applicants, has a bachelor’s degree in broadcast journalism from Northern Illinois University. She started her journalism career as a reporter for the Chicago City News Bureau. After working in Albuquerque from 1984-89, she worked as a reporter and anchor at WFLD-TV Fox Chicago News from 1989 to 2010.

Chacon left journalism in January 2011 to work as public relations director for the city of Chicago’s Treasurer’s Office for four years. In September 2015, Chacon served as the Iowa press secretary for the 2016 presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

After working on the Sanders campaign, she went back to work for the city of Chicago in May 2017 as communications director for the city’s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Chacon called Webber a decisive person who “is leading the city in a good and positive direction” and “making decisions that have been kicked down the road for so long.”

Chacon, no relation to the writer of this story, said she’s a firm believer in openness and transparency, which she said she has demonstrated during her tenure with the city of Chicago.

“During that time, I have helped get information out to reporters,” she said. “I’ve moved information from secure sites into open portals. I think people should be able to access the data that’s generated by their government. I think access to facts makes for better reporting.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.