The Latest: Voters reject soda tax in Santa Fe

AP News
Posted: May 03, 2017 1:02 AM
The Latest: Voters reject soda tax in Santa Fe

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on a soda-tax ballot initiative in Santa Fe, New Mexico (all times local):

10:50 p.m.

Santa Fe election officials confirm the proposed tax on sugary soda and other sweetened beverages has failed.

Santa Fe County Clerk Yolanda Vigil announced Tuesday that the initiative failed with 11,533 votes against and only 8,382 votes in favor.

A political committee backed by the soft drink industry says the election results show strong opposition to the soda tax and its burden on businesses and working-class families.

The tax would have boosted city funding for pre-kindergarten programs in the New Mexico capital by about $7.5 million a year.

Sandra Wechsler of the pro-tax committee Pre-k for Santa Fe said "the time was not now" for the tax.


10:10 p.m.

Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales has conceded defeat on a proposed tax on sweetened beverages based on partial election results.

Election results Tuesday from all but one polling center showed voters rejecting the tax on soft drinks in New Mexico's capital city, pointing to a rare victory to the beverage industry after a string of recent defeats at the ballot box.

The special election triggered a barrage of spending from outside organizations, including billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who is a staunch supporter of taxes on sugary beverages.

The Santa Fe City Clerk's Office said 7,859 people voted for the tax and 10,514 voted against, with results in from seven out of eight voting centers.

The tax was designed to expand preschool for children from poor families.


7:20 p.m.

Doors are closing at polling stations in Santa Fe, New Mexico, amid high turnout to decide on a proposed tax of sweetened beverages.

Santa Fe City Clerk Yolanda Vigil said Tuesday more than 19,600 votes have been cast at the polls, early voting centers and by absentee ballot.

That exceeds turnout in Santa Fe's 2014 mayoral election and the city's most recent ballot referendum in 2009 in which voters rejected a real estate transfer tax. About 53,000 city residents are registered to vote.

Lines of voters inside polling stations continued to cast ballots after doors were closed Tuesday at 7 p.m., delaying tabulation of final results.

The special election was marked by weeks of intensive publicity campaigns that have blanketed the city with fliers and yard signs in favor and against the tax that would pay to expand early childhood education.


3:20 p.m.

Steady streams of voters were flocking to polling stations as Santa Fe residents decide whether to adopt a tax on sugary sodas and other sweetened beverages.

Retiree Patricia McNeill moved quickly through a line of more than 50 people Tuesday to cast her vote in favor of the tax at a church in the New Mexico state capital.

Clutching a sugary ginger lemonade, McNeill says she will be happy to pay a little more to help fund the expansion of pre-kindergarten.

Opposition to the soda tax also was on prominent display on street corners where sign-waving opponents urged people to vote no.

First grade teacher Kyla Proctor says it's not fair to add taxes to drinks and that heavy spending on political publicity was a waste.


3:00 a.m.

Voters in New Mexico's capital city are deciding whether to add a tax on sugary sodas and other sweetened beverages that would follow the examples of several cities from coast to coast.

Final balloting takes place Tuesday in Santa Fe, New Mexico, after weeks of intense advertising campaigns and door-to-door canvassing that have blanketed the city with fliers and yard signs.

The tax on beverage distributors would add about 25 cents to the cost of a can of soda. Proponents including Santa Fe Mayor Javier Gonzales say the tax is needed to expand high-quality early childhood education for 3- and 4-year-olds whose families cannot afford or find it. Opponents contend the tax would fall heavily on the working families it intends help.