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Portrait vanished, but now one’s back at City Hall

November 20, 2018

Former Mayor Debbie Jaramillo’s image is back on the wall at City Hall.

A portrait of Santa Fe’s only female mayor was hung Monday along with other mayoral portraits in a public hallway, ending a bizarre situation dating back to the late 1990s when Jaramillo’s picture disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

For many years, there remained simply no indication of Jaramillo’s tenure, not even a blank space between the portraits of Sam Pick and Larry Delgado, whose terms bookended Jaramillo’s.

In 2014, Jaramillo said she suspected it had been stolen. “There were always people who felt that I went too much against the grain,” she said then.

City spokesman Matt Ross deferred comment on the new portrait to City Clerk Yolanda Vigil, saying she had been working on arrangements with Jaramillo.

An associate in Vigil’s office said she was too busy to answer a question Monday afternoon, and the clerk did not return a message.

A recent report in The New Mexican raised the specter of an arrangement between City Hall and Jaramillo, who did not return a phone message, in which a city park would be renamed for Jaramillo’s late husband and Jaramillo would consent to a rehanging of her photograph.

City officials objected to the characterization that a “deal” had been struck, saying they simply wanted to both honor Jaramillo’s status as the city’s sole female mayor and recognize her husband, Mike, and his contributions to development of the city’s Torreon Park.

On Monday night the city Finance Committee advanced the proposal to rename the West Alameda park after Mike Jaramillo, who as president of an area neighborhood association fought off a prospective condominium development and pushed for the creation of a park instead.

The Finance Committee vote was 3-2, reflecting the minor controversy surrounding the park naming proposal, including the revelation that Mike Jaramillo had a somewhat checkered past. Councilors Mike Harris and Carol Romero-Wirth were against the proposal.

Mike Jaramillo served six months in prison for tax evasion in 1984. He was also fired from his post as chief zoning administrator with the city after an investigation into possible conflicts of interest.

Harris suggested the park be renamed “Jaramillo Torreon Park,” honoring both Mike and Debbie Jaramillo, rather than “Mike T. Jaramillo Torreon Park,” as is proposed.

Councilor Signe Lindell read a letter she said she received from former Mayor David Coss, a former city manager in Debbie Jaramillo’s administration, who urged councilors to acknowledge Mike Jaramillo’s better aspects.

“The example of a second chance, to do it differently, to do it better and to do for others is in my mind a powerful message,” Coss wrote.

The city parks advisory committee is scheduled to take up the proposal Wednesday.

Former Mayor Javier Gonzales, whose single term ended in March, remains absent from the wall of mayors; his portrait has not yet been hung.

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