National Governors Association coming to Santa Fe
Copyright ? 2018 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE ? New Mexico?s capital city will get to strut its stuff under a national political spotlight this month, as more than 20 governors are scheduled to descend on Santa Fe for the National Governors Association?s three-day-long summer meeting.
In all, about 1,500 attendees are expected, including foreign dignitaries and ambassadors from China, Mexico, Japan, Kenya and more than a dozen other countries. Some top White House officials could also show up for the meeting.
The governor?s gaggle runs July 19-21 and could be a boon for local hotels and eateries, which will likely be the site of high-profile networking.
?It will be great to have visitors from all over the nation and the world ? hopefully we can put our best foot forward,? said Simon Brackley, president and CEO of the Santa Fe Chamber of Commerce.
But the political meeting could also make for a traffic headache in already tourist-packed Santa Fe, and some local residents have already complained about plans for a VIP dinner for governors, their spouses and special guests at a downtown park.
Lt. Marvin Paulk with the Santa Fe Police Department said he could not divulge details about law enforcement?s security plans, but said all hands will be on deck while the out-of-state governors are in town.
?All uniformed personnel with the exception of cadets will be handling the safety and security of that event,? said Paulk, adding some officers may be asked to work overtime and no time off or leave will be granted while the meeting is going on.
Santa Fe was selected as the host city for this year?s summer meeting last year, and the event will be a last hurrah of sorts for Gov. Susana Martinez, who is barred from seeking a third consecutive term in office and will step down at the end of this year.
A Martinez spokesman said the gathering will showcase New Mexico while bringing together governors, top business executives and international dignitaries.
?The summer meeting is expected to garner global publicity while bringing millions of dollars in economic impact to New Mexico,? Martinez spokesman Ben Cloutier said.
Among topics governors and other attendees will discuss are state-level infrastructure spending, opioid addiction, the economic development potential of outdoor recreation and the United State?s economic ties with China, according to a draft agenda for the meeting.
In addition, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat, is scheduled to take the reins as the new NGA chair, replacing outgoing Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, whose year-long term is expiring.
But there will also be ample time for leisure, as the governors are invited to a western-themed reception at the Bonanza Creek Ranch outside Santa Fe ? a popular backdrop for movie productions ? and, on another night, a reception at Museum Hill.
There?s also a plan to burn a 50-foot tall marionette effigy ? an event similar to Santa Fe?s annual burning of Zozobra ? on the summer meeting?s final night.
Governors, their families and special guests will be invited to the event, dubbed ?La Noche de Fuego,? but some critics have complained it will be an inconvenience for local residents and might be unwise given the fire danger that?s prompted the closure of nearby national forests.
The funding to pay for the summer meeting comes from both the NGA, which collects attendance fees for the event, and the host state.
Much of the financial backing for this year?s meeting ? which carries a price tag of $1.5 million ? stems from cash and in-kind contributions from corporations and nonprofit groups.
Those sponsors include Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, Comcast, Facebook, AT&T and the National Science Foundation, said Laura Kesselman, the project manager for the NGA?s summer meeting host committee.
She did not provide a breakdown of how much each sponsor would be contributing to the event.
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the National Governors Association said security will be a top priority, adding the group is working closely on the issue with local officials, including the Governor?s Office.
?We are working with local, state and federal law enforcement to ensure that the conference provides a safe and positive experience for everyone, including the residents of Santa Fe,? NGA spokeswoman Brittany Donald said.