‘Nonpartisan’ Mayoral Election Is A Farce

Thank you, Albuquerque Journal, for publishing my guest editorial column “Nonpartisan mayoral election is a farce; The reality is that partisanship rules for mayor and city council” (See September 12, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, page A-13).

Following is my published guest editorial column:

To say Albuquerque has a form of “nonpartisan” municipal government is a farce when it comes to reality and how the Mayor acts and the city council really works and votes.

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.

Albuquerque’s municipal elections are held in odd number years and voter turnouts are miserably low like four years ago when voter turnout was 19% of registered voters.

It is important that Albuquerque City Councilors cooperate with each other and the Mayor as I did when I was on the city council but there are indeed limits to cooperation.

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, 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 sick of are Democrats trying to act and talk like Republicans, and Republicans trying to act like Democrats, especially after they get elected to positions like Mayor and City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan”.

City issues many times are partisan such as minimum wage, the mandatory sick leave initiative, public financed elections, late term abortions, equal pay for woman, sanctuary city and marriage equality.

I was criticized for running as a Democrat for Mayor and told by many Democratic Party officials they would not help because the race was non-partisan.

The Republican Party has been extremely involved in Albuquerque’s nonpartisan elections.

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 four years ago.

During his time in office, Mayor Berry appointed numerous Republican political operatives to six figure plus salaried positions with contacts to Republican Governor Martinez and Jay Mc Clusky and good examples include Republicans Darren White appointed Chief Public Safety Officer, Rob Perry appointed Chief Administrative Officer and Gordon Eden appointed APD Chief.

When Mayor Berry had the chance to appoint two city councilors to vacancies in predominantly Democrat seats, he chose to appoint two Republicans who later lost to Democrats.

For a supposedly nonpartisan race, Berry’s 2013 contributors list was top heavy with prominent Republican donors and players including the Republican National Committee.

The Republican Party is again getting involved in this year’s Mayors race by filing a complaint to investigate the only Democrat who qualified for public financing.

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.

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 seeing today, are candidates, both Democrat and Republican, who are downplaying their party affiliation when running for municipal office to get votes and donations only to show their true colors once elected.

This happens especially in Council districts that are predominantly voters from the opposite party.

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

We need to be honest with our municipal elections and allow the City Clerk to print ballots with party affiliation of candidates for Mayor and City Council.

This entry was posted in Opinions by . Bookmark the permalink.


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.