There are nine (9) candidates who have been certified by the City Clerk and who names will appear on the 2017 ballot for Mayor. (See April 29, 2017 Albuquerque Journal, “9 of 16 mayoral candidates qualify for ballot”, Metro & NM Section, Section C-1.)
All candidates should be congratulated and thanked by voters for their willingness to run.
Running for Mayor is not an easy task and requires candidates to really hustle to get the 3,000 qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters.
Four (4) years ago, there were only three (3) candidates for Mayor and just 19% of eligible voters voted.
With nine (9) candidates, I am hoping voter turnout will increase substantially.
In 2013, there was only a 19% turnout of registered voters in the Mayor’s race.
According to the City Clerk’s office, following are the qualifying candidates who secured the required number of nominating signatures from registered voters:
• Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta, a Democrat.
• Former state Democratic Party Chairman and private attorney Brian Colón.
• Republican Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson.
• Republican Ricardo Chaves and founder of Parking Company of America.
• University of New Mexico undergraduate Augustus “Gus” Pedrotty.
• Independent Susan Wheeler-Deichsel and founder of the civic group Urban ABQ.
• Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis.
• Democrat first term State Auditor Tim Keller.
• Independent Michelle Garcia Holmes, a retired Albuquerque police detective.
The election is Tuesday, October 2, 2017.
If no candidate gets 50% of the vote, a runoff election will be held one month later between the two top vote getters.
Following are issues voters should be thinking about and a few questions the candidates should be asked about:
PERSONNEL AND SERVICES:
1. Will you replace the current Chief Administrative Officer, City Attorney, Chief of Police, Fire Department Chief, Chief of Staff, Chief Operations Officer and all other current
department directors and if so with whom?
2. Are you in favor of, and will you lobby for, a state “right to work statute” that would impact or eliminate city employee unions?
3. Are you in favor of privatizing city services or work such as public safety, the 311 call center operations, the bus system or the maintenance and repair work done at city facilities such as the Bio Park?
APD and CRIME:
1. What is your position on the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms?
2. Should the City seek to renegotiate or set aside the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and if so why?
3. Should the APD Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chiefs and APD command staff be replaced?
4. Should a national search be conducted for a new law enforcement management team to assume control of APD and make changes and implement the DOJ consent decree mandated reforms?
5. Should the function of Internal Affairs be removed from APD and civilianized under the city Office of Inspector General, the Internal Audit Department and the City Human Resources Department?
6. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?
7. Are you in favor of the proposed charter amendment that seeks to add 375 Albuquerque Police Officers at a cost of $16 million dollars a year and that would require the city to have 25 sworn officers for every 11,500 residents and if so, how would you pay for such an increase?
8. Are you in favor of allowing retired APD sworn police officers return to work and be paid both their PERA pensions and salary, also known as double dipping?
9. What would you do as Mayor to enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?
10. Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $60 million to settle deadly force and excessive use of force cases. Should the City return to a “no settlement” policy involving alleged police misconduct cases and require a trial on the merits or a damages jury trial?
11. What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in Albuquerque and does your plan include community based policing?
12. Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?
13. Should the City of Albuquerque create a Department of Public Safety, consolidating Police, Fire and 911 operations under a single civilian Public Safety Director?
14. Should the City of Albuquerque consolidate law enforcement and fire services with Bernalillo County and create a single agency under one governing authority?
15. The City of Albuquerque has a vehicle forfeiture program where vehicles are seized by the city when a person is arrested for the second time for DWI, the City secures title to the vehicles and they are sold at auction. Are you in favor of the program or would you order the program stopped?
16. Should the City reinstate the “red light camera” program where civil traffic citations are issued to combat and reduce intersection traffic accidents?
THE ALBUQUERQUE ECONOMY:
1. What strategy would you implement to bring new industries, corporations and jobs to Albuquerque?
2. Albuquerque’s major growth industries include health care, transportation, manufacturing, retail and tourism with an emerging film industry. What programs would you propose to help or enhance or grow these industries?
3. Do you intend to keep the current Director of the City’s Economic Development Department and support staff?
4. To what extent should tax increment districts, industrial revenue bonds and income bonds be used to spur Albuquerque’s economy?
5. What financial incentives do you feel the city can or should offer and provide to the private sector to attract new industry and jobs to Albuquerque, and should that include start-up grants or loans with “claw back” provisions?
6. What sort of private and public partnership agreements or programs should be implemented to spur economic development?
7. What sort of programs or major projects or facilities, if any, should the city partner with the State or County to spur economic development?
8. What programs can the city implement to better coordinate its economic development with the University of New Mexico and the Community College of New Mexico (CNM) to insure an adequately trained workforce for new employers locating to Albuquerque?
9. Are you in favor of the enactment of a gross receipt tax or property tax dedicated strictly to economic development, programs or construction projects to revitalize Albuquerque that would be enacted by the City Council or be voter approved?
10. Do you support the continuation of the “Innovate Albuquerque” program or its expansion?
11. What programs can Albuquerque implement to insure better cooperation with Sandia Labs and the transfer of technology information for economic development?
CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT:
1. What is your position on the two-year rewrite of the City’s comprehensive plan known as ABC-Z project which is an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”?
2. As Mayor, what do you feel the City can do to promote “infill development” and would it include the City acquiring property to be sold to developers and the formation of public/private partnerships?
3. What do you feel the City can do to address vacant residential and commercial properties that have been declared “substandard” by city zoning and unfit for occupancy?
4. Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibit city annexation of property without county approval?
5. What is your position on the Santolina development project on the West side and should it be annex by the City to provide utility services?
6. What is your position on City and County consolidation for all government services, including zoning and development?
1. Should the City of Albuquerque have representation or be included on the Albuquerque School board, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and the Community College of New Mexico Board?
2. What should the City do to help reduce high school dropout rates?
3. Should the City of Albuquerque advocate to the New Mexico legislature increasing funding for early child care development programs and intervention programs with increased funding from the permanent fund?
4. What education resources should or can the City make available to the Albuquerque school system?
POVERTY AND THE HOMELESS:
1. What should be done to reduce the homeless population in Albuquerque?
2. What services should the City provide to the homeless and the poor if any?
3. Should the City continue to support the “coming home” program?
4. Should the city be more involved with the county in providing mental health care facilities and programs?
PROJECT PLANNING AND FUNDING:
1. The Albuquerque Rapid Transit Project (ART) is a $129 million-dollar project including $69 million Federal Transportation (FTA) grant that has yet to be approved by congress. Should ART be completed?
2. If the tatotal $69 million ART grant is not approved by congress, where do you propose the money should come from for any shortfall, the general fund, revenue bonds or a tax increase?
3. Are you in favor of increasing the city’s current gross receipts tax or property taxes to pay for essential services and make up for lost gross receipt tax revenues caused in part by the repeal of the “hold harmless” provision and that has mandated budget and personnel cuts during the last 7 years?
4. Do you feel that any and all increases in gross receipts taxes should be voter approved?
5. Are you in favor of diverting any funding from the Bio Park tax enacted by city voters that will generate $250 million for other services or projects not associated with the Bio Park?
6. The City has borrowed over $63 million dollars over the past two years to build “pickle ball” courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing voters and using revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects. Do you feel revenue bonds is an appropriate funding mechanism for large capital improvement projects as identified?
1. Are you in favor of replacing the current Director of the Animal Welfare Department?
2. What is your position on the City’s “catch and release” program for feral cat’s that upon being caught by the city’s Animal Welfare Department, they are spade or neutered and then released?
3. What would you do to promote dog and cat adoptions or should the city euthanize all animals after a thirty (30) day hold?
4. What is your familiarity with the HEART ordinance and do you feel it is too restrictive and should it be amended or repealed?
1. What is your position on the mandatory sick leave initiative known as the “Healthy Workforce” ordinance mandating private businesses to pay sick leave to employees and that will appear on the October 3, 2017 ballot?
2. Should the City and the City Attorney’s office enforce the increase in the minimum wage enacted by voters?
3. Should the City and the City Attorney’ enforce the mandatory sick leave initiative if it is enacted by city voters?
4. What is your position on the proposed increase in public financing for Mayoral candidates from $360,000 to $640,000 that will appear on the October 3, 2017 ballot?
5. Do you intend to ask for or rely upon a measured finance committee to set up to promote your candidacy for Mayor?
6. Should major capital improvement projects such as the Albuquerque Rapid Transit project (ART), be placed on the ballot for voter approval and should there be a specified amount before a public vote is required?
7. What is your position on the ART Bus project and should it be stopped or scaled back if Congress does not fund the $69 million federal grant?
8. Should Albuquerque become a “sanctuary city”?
9. Should the issue of Albuquerque becoming a “sanctuary city” be placed on the ballot for voter approval?
Voters are entitled to and should expect more from candidates than fake smiles, slick commercials, and no solutions and no ideas.
Our City needs more than promises of better economic times and lower crime rates for Albuquerque.
Voters need to demand answers and find out what candidates really stand for and what they intend to do once elected.