Any one that knows me and that reads this blog 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.
Hell, I even have a number of Republicans who are very good friends and relatives, but that’s another story for later.
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 and the Albuquerque Journal 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 Republicans and Republican elected officials, jumped in full force with a vengeance into the Mayor’s race and helped raise over $910,000 for the incumbent.
The Republican party orchestrated many negative press releases and even feed the Albuquerque Journal negative stories or leads for stories that wound up published in the Journal.
Two questions from a good friend 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?
These are 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 an Albuquerque 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 comprehensive ground water protection policy, passage of the vehicle emissions program and the creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against the Albuquerque Police Department, and the creation of the Internal Audit Department.
Creation of the Independent Council Office to review citizen complaints against the Albuquerque Police and the Quality of Life tax that I sponsored were the most difficult resolutions to get passed and the City Council could not have done it without Republican support.
However, there is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and being downright hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true as your core values and what you stand for as an elected official.
I have been accused recently 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 Democrats who are running for re-election is not tearing someone down as a candidate, but legitimate political commentary to question how that person is acting on the City Council.
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 as they come such as the minimum wage, the mandatory sick leave initiative, public finance of elections, equal pay for woman, sanctuary city and the privatization of city services that is anti-union, all which have been before the city council.
Four years ago, the voter initiative prohibiting late term abortions was on the ballot, which was clearly partisan, but the Mayor and the Republican City council made sure it was on the runoff ballot so as not to have any affect on the Mayors race and to affect voter turn out.
I opposed the late term abortion prohibition initiative while the incumbent supported it.
Marriage equality was also an issue in the Mayor’s race four years ago when the New Mexico Supreme Court recognized gay couples right to marry.
I publicly supported marriage equality while the incumbent insisted that marriage could only be between a man and a woman.
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 including their salaries are 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 before he was pressured to resigned.
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 Albuquerque’s 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 in an editorial 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 a farce 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 candidates or Mayor and City Council talk like progressive Democrat, they need to be asked point blank by Democratic Party voters if once elected will they act or vote like a Republican saying they are non-partisan.
As all those who run for Mayor and City Council, none of the candidate should be afraid to disclose their party affiliation, unless they are afraid to be identified with their own political party and philosophy and what they stand for in order to mislead voters.
Voters sooner or later figure out who are the DINOs (Democrat In Name Only) and who are the RINO’s (Republican In Name Only) in the herd of candidates.