It’s Laughable Calling Albuquerque Municipal Elections And Government Non Partisan

Any one that knows me and that reads my blog articles knows that I am as Democrat as they come and I have never tried to hide that fact.

I have been a Democrat all my life and have served as a Ward Chair, Precinct Chair and on the Democratic Party State Central Committee.

I consider myself a strong Democrat and enjoy having spirited political discussions with people no matter their party affiliations.

Four (4) years ago when I ran for Mayor, I did so as a proud Democrat and was severely criticized for it by the Republican Party with little if anything being said by the Democratic Party.

Four (4) years ago, the Democratic Party showed reluctance to publicly get involved with the race for Mayor.

The Republican Party on the other hand, including the Governor and her political operative Jay McClusky and many prominent Republican and elected officials, jumped full force into the Mayor’s race and helped raise over $910,000.

The Republican party orchestrated many press releases.

I have been accused of “tearing down democrats” when I have questioned the voting record of Democrat City Councilors who vote and act like Republicans on the City Council .

Pointing out the voting record and actions of a Democrat who is running for re-election is not tearing someone down as a candidate, but legitimate political commentary to question how that person will act once elected.

There were two questions from a good friend that particularly caught my interest:

“What about the nonpartisan form of government called for by the City Charter? Seems you don’t care for people cooperating with each other?

I thought these were two very good questions.

The New Mexico Constitution provides that all municipal elections be nonpartisan and that is why it is in our city charter and not because the framers of our city charter thought it was a great idea.

Municipal elections are held in odd number years and the voter turnouts are always miserably low.

Four years ago, in Albuquerque’s municipal election, the voter turnout was 19% of registered voters.

I do care about the City Council cooperating with each other and the Mayor and I did it when I was on the city council and did it when I was a Deputy City Attorney, but I feel there are limits.

As a City Councilor, I worked and cooperated with the entire city council and Mayor when it came to issues like passage of the quality of life tax that built the children’s science museum, the aquarium, the balloon museum, the botanical gardens, purchase of critical open space, the passage of the compressive ground water protection policy, passage of the vehicle emissions program and the creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against APD and the creation of the Internal Audit Department.

However, there is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and being hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true and what you stand for as an elected official.

What I am tired of are Democrats trying to act and talk like Republicans, especially after they get elected to positions like the City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan” when the issues are indeed partisan such as the minimum wage, the mandatory sick leave initiative, public finance of elections and equal pay for woman and sanctuary city.

For the last 8 years, we have had the most partisan Mayor in Albuquerque history especially when the Republicans controlled the City Council by a 6 to 3 margin just over four years ago.

During his time in office, Mayor Berry has appointed numerous Republican political operatives to six figure plus salaried positions with contacts to Governor Martinez and Jay Mc Clusky, yet he proclaims to have acted in a non-partisan fashion.

Good examples of Berry’s political operative appointments include the following:

1. Republican Darren White appointed Chief Public Safety Officer. Previously White served as Bernalillo County Sherriff, served as Governor Gary Johnson’s Cabinet Secretary for Public Safety and ran for Congress, paid $130,000 a year by Berry.
2. Republican Rob Perry appointed City Attorney and then Chief Administrative Officer. Perry served as Secretary of the Department of Corrections under Gary Johnson and ran for New Mexico Attorney General, paid $191,000 a year by Berry.
3. Republican Jessica Hernandez appointed City Attorney. Hernandez was the general Counsel for Governor Susana Martinez before becoming City Attorney, paid $151,942 a year by Berry.
4. Republican APD Chief Gordon Eden. Chief Eden served as US Marshal under President George W. Bush and then as Cabinet Secretary for Governor Martinez before becoming APD Chief, paid $168,480 a year by Berry.
5. Republican Tito Madrid appointed constituent liaison for the Mayor. Tito Madrid was campaign chairman for Berry’s election and served with Congresswoman Heather Wilson handling constituent services.

When Berry had the chance to appoint two city councilors to vacancies in predominantly Democrat seats, he appointed two Republicans instead.

Both of Berry’s appointed City Councilors lost their re-election bids to Democrats Isaac Benton and Diane Gibson.

For a supposedly nonpartisan race, Mayor Berry’s 2013 contributors list was top heavy with prominent Republican donors and players including the Republican National Committee, Brewer Oil Company, Western Refining Company, Pete Domenici, Harvey Yates, Micky Barnett, Ed Lujan, Bill Sego, Don Chalmbers, Jon Barela, John Sanchez, Margaret and Turner Branch, Nadine Bicknel, Larry Laranaga , Nate Gentry, Herb Hughes, Sherman McCorkle, Trudy Jones, Michael Brasher, John Ackerman, Bob Stamm, Jack Stahl, Gerry Geist, Justin Fox Young, and Doug Turner just to mention a few.

The press, especially the Albuquerque Journal, likes to point out party affiliations of candidates running for municipal office, even though the races are supposed to be non-partisan.

I was severely criticized and blasted by the Albuquerque Journal for running as a Democrat for Mayor and being critical of Democrats who vote for Republicans who oppose Democratic core values.

The first question that the Albuquerque Journal asks in their candidate questionnaire is what party affiliation are you?

What I have also seen over the years, and see even today, is that candidates, both Democrat and Republican, like to downplay their party affiliation when running for municipal office to get votes, especially when they are running in a district that is predominantly voters from the opposite party, only to show their true colors once elected.

To say we have a form of nonpartisan government is laughable when it comes to reality and how the city council works and votes.

The New Mexico legislature needs to change municipal elections to be conducted in the same year as federal and state elections and make them partisan.

As City Councilor Pat Davis campaigns for the US Congress as a progressive Democrat, talks like a progressive Democrat, he needs to be asked by Democratic Party voters if once elected to the US Congress will he vote and act like a Republican as he has done so many times during his very short tenure on the Albuquerque City Council.

As all those who run for Mayor and City Council, none of the candidate should be afraid to disclose their party affiliation.

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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.