Sascha Anderson is a mother of three, a communications consultant for two prominent political figures in Santa Fe, and a local volunteer.
Recently, she also became the newest member of the Santa Fe School Board.
Anderson, 38, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma who runs unopposed in the Nov. 2 election for the District 5 board seat previously held by Lorraine Price, was appointed to the post in early September after the death of Price.
Its district includes several downtown schools – Santa Fe High School; Milagro College; the Early College Opportunities school; and the primary schools of Kearny, Nava, PiÃ±on and Salazar.
She said she plans to advocate for better teacher pay and will push for more equity discussions in Santa Fe public schools, including “fair distribution of resources” for the Adelante program, which serves homeless students and families; the nonprofit Communities In Schools, which offers a range of programs for the most disadvantaged children in the district; and other initiatives.
As a Native American, she said, she brings a new perspective to the neighborhood.
“I’m a native woman. I think that’s really important,” she said, adding that she wished “there was a representation of a nation or a pueblo in New Mexico. to the school board “.
The only other place on the board that is up for election this year is the District 3 seat held by board chair Kate Noble, who is running unopposed.
Noble, in a recent interview, said she was relieved the board was able to fill Price’s seat so quickly. “It was crisp and clear who we needed to name, after seeing Sascha running for the job unopposed.”
Although Anderson’s name is relatively new to local politics, she has come to prominence in recent months as the main spokesperson for Mayor Alan Webber’s re-election campaign and the office of the First Judicial District Attorney, Mary Carmack-Altwies. She has contracts with both through her private communications consultancy firm.
“Sascha Anderson is imminently qualified,” Carmack-Altwies said in an interview on Friday. âAlthough she currently works in communications, she has a solid background in equity and social justice. She is very passionate about certain subjects that the school board regularly deals with.
Webber also praised Anderson’s work in the community.
âI think she’s very connected to the community,â he said. “She is actively involved with families, mothers and children. I think she will bring a lot of experience and constructive ideas to the school board. So I think they made a good choice.”
The mayor noted that he had no say in school board appointments.
Anderson acknowledged that his political and communications work, including for local nonprofits, could create conflicts of interest in regards to his position on the school board. She recently consulted with the school board lawyer on how to draw boundaries, she said.
âI am very aware of any overlap and will always recuse myself from any overlapping issues between my clients or my volunteer work or my school board work,â said Anderson.
She added that she is “very careful to sort this work into silos. Having said that, I think there is potential for collaboration within the school board with various other government and community entities.”
Noble agreed. “I would ask anyone to tell me why there is a conflict of interest and not an alignment of interest,” she said. “An alignment closer to the city is something I’ve worked on a lot.”
Carmack-Altwies said she and Anderson had previously discussed a plan to avoid potential conflict.
âWe developed a strategy whereby if there was a conflict, she would recuse herself from voting or discussion within the school board, and I would obviously remove her from any discussion if there was a discussion with the school board., declared the public prosecutor.
“But while I was having this discussion with her, none of us could come up with an example in the last three, four or five years that the district attorney’s office has had with the school board,” she added.
Webber said Anderson’s short duration of work with her campaign – she has a contract until Nov. 2 – will likely avoid any duplication.
“I think we are 30 days away from the election,” he said. “And so I think the problem is very short lived.” If anything of concern happened, he said, they would discuss the matter to ensure “there is no conflict or even an appearance of conflict.”
Anderson grew up in Norman, Oklahoma, and comes from a family of educators.
The public school system brought her comfort amid the realities of a childhood deeply affected by poverty and drug addiction.
âHaving that experience and having the public schoolsâ¦ saved my life,â she said.
She attended college for seven years, she said, but did not graduate.
At 26, Anderson moved to New York and worked in the specialty food industry, and in 2015 she moved to Santa Fe with her husband, Michael, and their children – in part, she said. said, to move away from “hypercompetition”. school system in the country’s largest city.
Anderson said she was drawn to running for a school board seat after watching board members debate key issues over the past few years, such as the dress code and the Santa Fe Fiesta celebrations in schools .
âI will say that I also saw places where I thought the school board could improve,â she said. “There were opportunities for growth in the areas surrounding conversations around school closures. [and] the transfer policy. “
Tiny Nava Elementary School in District 5 has been identified in recent years as one of the few schools in the city center that may be closed and consolidated due to the small number of stagnant or declining enrollments. In 2019, Price and former board member Maureen Cashmon voted to shut down Nava and two other low enrollment schools with high rates of transfer students. Their effort did not pass.
Anderson’s eldest daughter, Winifred, 8, completed Nava’s home schooling program even before the family lived in the district.
Still, Anderson said she wasn’t leaning one way or the other on the subject of school closures. Instead, she called for better stakeholder engagement and more ârobustâ conversations around equity.
âI say this as a person who uses the transfer policy,â she said. “So it’s not that I thinkâ¦ people shouldn’t be able to transfer schools.”
She noted, however, that some schools in the district have high rates of transferring students from other areas, while many have high numbers of transferring children.
Prior to moving to the District 5 area, Anderson led the Gonzales Community School Parents and Teachers Association. She has also worked on a diversity and equity committee through the state’s public education department, though she will be resigning that post.
She remains on an equity committee under the direction of the new superintendent of Santa Fe public schools, Hilario “Larry” Chavez. It is not yet known whether she will be able to continue to sit on the panel.
She is also a current member of the board of directors of the local non-profit association Girls Inc.
Anderson said families can expect her to be a “cheerleader” for schools in District 5 and an advocate for a more equitable distribution of resources among schools.
âAnd then the well-being of students, families, teachers and staff is my biggest concern,â she said. “And that’s food security, housing security, culturally appropriate resources and mental health.”