Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac (Ike) Benton are two politicians who are so much alike as to be almost indistinguishable when it comes to their voting records they could be called Tweedledum Pat Davis and Tweedledee Ike Benton.
Both Benton and Davis are saying they intend to run for re-election to the Albuquerque City Council this year in the October, 2019 municipal election.
Issac (Ike) Benton is the District 2 City Councilor and was first elected to the council in 2005.
Benton is a retired architect and avowed urbanist.
Benton’s city council district includes a large area of downtown Central and the North Valley which leans left and is heavily hispanic.
Benton ran unopposed in 2015.
Benton, 67, disclosed to a political blogger he thought about not seeking re-election and said he looked around to see if a younger, qualified person was “waiting in the wings”, but he said he could not find anyone to run.
The “wing” Benton was probably referring to is the pediatric wing of Presbyterian Hospital where he yelled out “Does anyone of you live in my district who wants to be city councilor?”
Truth is, no one is going to disclose to a sitting city counselor they intend to run unless they are absolutely sure the incumbent is not running, and that is just how it works in politics.
City Councilor Pat Davis was elected to the Albuquerque City Council in October 6, 2015 to represent District 6.
District 6 encompasses the International District, Mesa Del Sol, Nob Hill, Southeast Heights, and the University of New Mexico.
Last year, Davis ran for congress in the First Congressional District but withdrew from the race and he polled at 3% and could not raise the money to run a viable campaign.
Davis endorsed another Democrat who he felt was the most “progressive” out of a field of 7 who were all progressive Democrats but only one was to his liking. (See below blog article.)
City Hall insiders are saying that Pat Davis and Mayor Tim Keller are on the outs and that Keller is looking for an opponent to run against Davis.
Still other political observers say Davis is trying to secure a decent job within the new administration of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham.
THEIR VOTING RECORDS SAY IT ALL
Both Davis and Benton proclaim to be “progressive democrats”, however their City Council voting records say otherwise.
The past three years Albuquerque has suffered from record breaking high crime rates and the ART bus project without either Benton nor Davis even trying doing much to improve things.
There are at least 8 egregious specific votes Issac Benton’s and Pat Davis’s that reveal the true voting record on the Albuquerque City Council and go against the core Democratic principles:
1. City Councilors Benton and Davis voted repeatedly for and supported the disastrous ART Bus project that has destroyed the character of Route 66. Both refused to advocate to put the ART Bus project on the ballot for public approval. Benton and Davis voted to spend federal grant money that had yet to be appropriated by congress. The ART Bus project has been a total disaster resulting the destruction of the character of Route 66. ART has a negative impact on Central resulting in several businesses going out of business. Many central businesses and Nob Hill businesses, no longer exist because of the ART Bus Project.
2.Both Benton and Davis voted to use $13 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the ART Bus project. The revenue bonds were not voted upon by the public. It was reported that the Albuquerque City Council borrowed over $63 million dollars over a two-year period to build pickle ball courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing the voters. The $65 million dollars was borrowed with the Albuquerque City Councilors voting to use revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects.
3. The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including controlling its budget. Benton and Davis did nothing when it comes to Albuquerque Police Department (APD) reforms and has never challenged the previous Administration and the former APD command staff in any meaningful way demanding compliance with the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree reforms. Each time the Federal Court appointed Monitor presented his critical reports of APD to the City Council, Benton and Davis remained silent. Both declined to demand accountability from the Mayor and hold the APD command staff responsible for dragging their feet on the reforms. Both Benton and Davis failed to attend any one of the federal court hearings on the consent decree.
4. Both Benton and Davis voted for the city ordinance amendments requiring equal pay for woman but failed to demand more. The amendments to the equal pay for woman ordinance sounded good and look good on paper but accomplished very little. The truth is that the equal pay for woman ordinance only applies to city contracts and those who do business with the city. The ordinance is voluntary and gives preferential treatment on city contracts to those who voluntarily comply. The equal pay for woman ordinance should apply to all businesses licensed to do business in Albuquerque, it should be mandatory for all businesses and enforced by city planning that issues business licenses and could be made so by the city council.
5. When he served on a task force to overhaul Albuquerque’s public fiancé laws, Pat Davis declined to advocate meaningful changes to our public finance laws making it easier for candidates to qualify for public finance. The only change both Davis and Benton agreed to was increasing the amount of money candidates get and not the process of collecting the donations to qualify and not expanding the time to collect qualifying donations. The lack of changes to the public finance laws favors incumbents like Davis and Benton.
6. Davis advocated for enactment of the Healthy Workforce ordinance by voters which would have mandate the pay of sick leave by employers and was always there for a photo op with those organizations who pushed to get it on the ballot. However, both Benton and Davis never demanded the City Attorney’s office enforce the existing Albuquerque minimum wage ordinance, even when workers were forced to sue their employers. Davis and Benton claim to be in favor of increasing the minimum wage, but they have never demanded the Mayor nor the City Attorney to enforce the current city ordinance enacted by voters with a 2 to 1 margin.
7. On July 2, 2018 Democrat Mayor Tim Keller vetoed the $2.6 million economic development package that would help Topgolf to construct a $39 million entertainment complex at the site of the former Beach Waterpark. Benton and Davis went along with the City Council voting 8-1 to give the incentives after a 9-0 veto override Keller’s veto of a resolution expressing the city councils support. A few weeks later, Both Benton and Davis again voted to override Democrat Mayor Keller’s veto of the funding. Rather than give the new Democrat Mayor the benefit of the doubt, Benton and Davis voted to overturn the veto, but never once voted to overturn a veto of the previous Republican Mayor.
8. The most egregious votes by Benton and Davis was that they voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our neighborhoods and favors developers. The enactment of the comprehensive plan was a major priority of Republican Mayor Berry and the development community pushed hard for its enactment before Berry left office. The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” an official city policy and the “gutting” of long-standing sector development plans by the development community to repeal those sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character. Benton, a retired architect knew better but refused to intervene on behalf of neighborhood interests.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It will be during the first few weeks of March, 2019 that petitions will be made available to collect qualifying signatures to get on the 2019 municipal ballot for city council.
Most assuredly, Benton and Davis will not only get necessary qualifying signatures, but will also secure public financing because they have done it before.
In 2017, Democrat City Councilors Ken Sanchez and Dianne Gibson were reelected to the Albuquerque City despite being staunch ART supporters and having an almost identical voting record to City Councilors Benton and Davis.
What people should be sick of are Democrats acting and talking like Republicans especially after they get elected to positions like Mayor and City Council and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan”.
No doubt both City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis will say that the City Council is “non-partisan” and they needed to cooperate with Republicans to get things done, even though Democrats now hold a majority of 6-3 on the City Council and even though the Mayor is a Democrat.
However, there is a significant difference between cooperating and working with other elected officials from the opposite party and then being hypocritical and going against your own basic political philosophy of what you believe to be true and then turning around and acting and voting against that what you claim to believe in.
What would be another disappointing election is if Davis and Benton are re elected saying they are Progressives Democrats when in fact they vote like conservative Republicans.
Hope springs eternal that both Benton and Davis will have strong opposition so their constituents can thank them for their service and they can move off the City Council.