The 2017 Race for Mayor Begins

As of February 16, 2017, there are fourteen (14) candidates for Mayor registered with the Albuquerque City Clerk’s Office for the October 3, 2017 municipal election.

The candidates for Mayor in alphabetical order, and the way they intend to finance their campaigns, are as follow:

Eddy Aragon, Independent, “Rock of Talk” radio talk show host. (Public Financing)
Deanna Archuleta, Democrat, former Bernalillo County Commissioner (Private Financing)
Elan Colello, Democrat, CEO of a virtual reality company (Public Financing)
Brian Colon, former State Democratic Party Chairman and attorney (Private Financing)
Lamont T. Davis (No information reported on) (Public Financing)
Mitchell Garcia Holmes, Independent, retired APD police detective (Public Financing)
Rachel Golden (No information reported on) (Public Financing)
Wayne Johnson, Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner (Private Financing)
Tim Keller, Democrat first term New Mexico State Auditor (Public Financing)
Dan Lewis, Republican Albuquerque City Councilor (Private Financing)
Scott Madison, Democrat, employed by Sandia Labs (Public Financing)
Stella Padilla, Democrat, community activist and Old Town resident (Public Financing)
Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty (No information reported on) (Public Financing)
Susan Wheeler-Deischel, Independent, founder Urban Albuquerque (Public Financing)

Note that 10 candidates are seeking public financing and 4 are seeking private financing.

Identified are six Democrats, two Republicans, and three Independents running for Mayor.


All Candidates for Mayor are given a little over 10 weeks to collect 3,000 petition signatures to get on the October 3, 2017 municipal ballot.

From February 16, 2017 to April 28, 2017 all candidates for Mayor will be allowed to collect nominating petition signatures.

Each signature will be reviewed by the Albuquerque City Clerk’s office to confirm that the signature is from a registered Albuquerque voter.

The disqualification rates can be high and candidates in all likelihood will need to submit at least 5,000 signatures.

I predict as many as eight candidates will be able to secure the 3,000 nominating petition signatures because of the ten weeks given to collect the signatures.


Candidates for Mayor who will be seeking public financing are given only six (6) weeks to collect 3,600 qualifying $5.00 donations in order to secure $370,000 in public financing.

The $5.00 qualifying donations are non-refundable donations to the City of Albuquerque and not donations to the candidates nor their campaigns.

Candidates for Mayor will be given from February 15 to March 31 to collect the $5.00 qualifying donations and those donations must come from only Albuquerque registered voters.

Receipts must be signed by donors and the receipts must be turned into the City Clerk’s office for verification that the $5.00 donation to the City came from a registered city voter.

Once a candidate secures the necessary 3,600 qualifying donations, the City will make a one time, lump sum deposit into a candidate campaign finance account and that is the only amount that will be given for the entire campaign including any run off.

A public financed candidate who secures the necessary qualifying donations must sign a written agreement that they will not spend any more on their campaign other than what they are given by the city.

Public financed candidates once qualified are strictly prohibited from soliciting or accepting any more donations from any source for their campaigns

In the event that a candidate seeking public financing does not secure the necessary 3,600 donations, they still have the option to continue their campaign as a privately financed candidate.

No public finance money is given for a runoff election.

I predict that no more than two of the above listed candidates will actually be able to secure the 3,600 qualifying donations mainly because only six weeks is allowed to collect the donations and it is labor intensive.


Unlike publicly financed candidates, who may only spend the funds distributed by the City, privately financed candidates have no fundraising or spending limits.

Privately financed candidates can solicit and raise money throughout their campaigns and up and through the day of the first election or runoff if there is one.

Privately financed candidates can solicit donations from persons, corporations and entities with no Albuquerque residency required of the donors.

Privately finance candidates running for Mayor do not have to file financial reports until July.

The finance reports are very detailed listing contributors, dates and amounts which are in turn reviewed for compliance by the city clerk with the finance disclosure and reporting laws, contribution limitations and for conflicts and prohibitions against donations from people who do business with the City of Albuquerque.


City of Albuquerque Campaign Finance laws allow “measured finance” committees to be set up to raise unlimited amounts of money and promote candidates for Mayor.

I believe there will be very wealthy donors and interest groups, including from outside the State of New Mexico, contributing huge amounts of money to measured finance committees or candidates for Mayor and their campaigns and their political consultants, which is what happened last year in a few state races.


The municipal election for Mayor and City Council will be on October 3, 2017.

If no candidate for Mayor secures more than 50% of the vote, a runoff election one month later is held between the two top vote getters.

Also on the ballot will be a proposal increasing the public financing to Mayor candidates from $370,000 to $640,000 and if it passes, it will be in effect for the 2021 election.

It is also anticipated that the mandatory sick leave initiative will be placed on the ballot by the Albuquerque City Council.

Best wishes to all the candidates for Mayor and hope they all get on the ballot in order to increase voter turnout.

Voters are encouraged to ask the candidates where they stand on the issues, decide on a candidate to support and help them get elected.

I further encourage people to “follow the money”, especially measured finance committees and know the consultants hired before you vote so you can know what you are really getting in a candidate and who the candidate is really beholding to and who is pulling the strings.

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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.