There are a total of 16 candidates running for city council in the 4 city council seats that will be on the November 5, 2019 ballot. Only 31 days were given to candidates running to collect $5.00 qualifying donations to secure public financing. The time to collect donations expired on May 31, 2019.
The number of $5.00 donations needed in each city council district to qualify for public financing differs based on voter registration. The breakdown is: in District 2: 413 donations, in District 4: 393 donations, in District 6: 323 donations and in District 8: 425 donations.. On June 4, 2019 the City Clerk updated its web page listing those candidates who have submitted enough qualifying donation to secure public finance.
The final day to turn in qualifying nominating petition signatures from registered voters is June 28, 2019.
CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL
District 2 incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton has 6 opponents seeking to replace him. The candidates are: Steve Baca (D), David B. Bearshire, Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (D), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, (I). 6 of 7 candidates in District 2 originally sought public financing and 4 have qualified: Benton, Griego, Nelson and Quintero.
District 4 has 5 candidates running to replace Brad Winter. Those candidates are: Brook L. Bassen, Athena Ann Christodoulou, Mary Sue Flynt, Ane C. Romero (D), Haley Josselyn Roy. Four candidates in District 4 sought public financing with one candidate notifying the City Clerk she abandoned her efforts to seek public finance.
District 6, incumbent City Councilor Pat Davis has one challenger and she is Gina Naomi Dennis (D) who is an attorney, neighborhood activists and who was a Bernie Sanders delegate in 2016 to the Democratic National Convention. Both Davis and Dennis qualified for public finance.
District 8 City Councilor Trudy Jones has one challenger and she is S. Maurreen Skowan who qualified for public financing. Trudy Jones has elected to finance her campaign with private financing and has never sought public financing of her campaigns.
As of May 30, 2019, the Albuquerque City Clerk has verified qualifying donations as follows for each candidate:
DISTRICT 2- 433 Qualifying Donations Needed for Public Finance with 4 candidates qualifying.
A) QUALIFYING CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC FINANCE:
Isaac Benton: 552 Verified, 0 Remaining To Collect, 100% Of Requirement met.
Joseph Griego: 461 Verified , 0 Remaining To Collect, 100% Of Requirement met.
Zachery A. Quintero: 532 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson: 532 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
B)CANDIDATES NOT QUALIFYING FOR PUBLIC FINANCE:
Steve Baca: 8 verified, 425 remaining to collect, 2% of requirement met.
Connie Vigil: 18 verified, 415 remaining to collect, 4% of required met.
DISTRICT 4 – 393 Qualifying Donations Needed For Public Finance. This is City Councillor Brad Winters District and he is not running for another term. All the candidates are seeking public finance:
A) DISTRICT 4 QUALIFYING CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC FINANCE
Brook L. Bassan: 412 verified, 0% remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
Ane C. Romero: 446 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
Haley Josselyn Roy: 428 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
B) DISTRICT 4 CANDIDATES NOT QUALIFYING FOR PUBLIC FINANCE
Athena Ann Christodoulou: 203 verified, 190 remaining to collect, 52 % of requirement met.
NOTE: Mary Sue Flynt notified the City Clerk she abandoned her efforts to seek public finance and will privately finance. Before that she had submitted 3 verified $5.00 donations.
DISTRICT 6 – 323 Qualifying Donations Needed For Public Finance. Both candidates have qualified for public finance.
Pat Davis: 331 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
Gina Naoi Dennis: 348 verified, 0 remaining to be collect, 100% of requirement met.
DISTRICT 8 – 424 Qualifying Donations Needed For Public Finance. Incumbent City Councilor Trudy Jones is not seeking public financing and will be relying on private donation. Her opponent S. Maureen Skowran sought public finance and has qualified:
S. Maureen Skowran – 454 verified, 0 remaining to collect, 100% of requirement met.
NOMINATING PETITION SIGNATURES
For all the City Council candidates, the qualifying period to secure qualifying nominating signatures from registered voters to be placed on the ballot is May 1, 2019 to June 28, 2019. All candidates running for city council must secure 500 nominating signatures from registered voters who live in the district. As of May 30, 2019, the Albuquerque City Clerk has verified qualifying nominating petition signatures as follows for each candidate:
DISTRICT 2 (Incumbent Isaac Benton)
Steve Baca: 61 verified, 439 more needed.
David B. Bearshire: 0 verified, 500 needed.
Isaac Benton: 371 verified, 129 more needed.
Joseph Griego: 574 verified, -0- more needed
Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson: 224 verified, 276 more needed.
Zachery A. Quintero: 104 verified, 396 more needed.
Connie Vigil: 121 verified, 397 more needed.
DISTRICT 4 – (This is Brad Winters district and he is not running for another term.)
Brook L. Bassan: 439 verified, 61 more needed.
Athena Ann Christodoulou: 151 verified, 349 more needed.
Mary Sue Flynt: 6 verified, 494 more needed.
Anne C. Romero: 436 verified, 64 more needed.
Haley Josselyn Roy: 49 verified, 451 more needed.
DISTRICT 6 (Incumbent Pat Davis)
Pat Davis: 173 verified, 327 more needed.
Gina Naoimi Dennis: 48 verified, 452 more needed.
DISTRICT 8 (Incumbent Trudy Jones)
Trudy E. Jones: 0 verified, 500 more needed.
S. Maureen Skowran: 759 verified, 0 more needed.
You can review the full breakdown of verified donations and nominating signatures here:
RANK VOTING SYSTEM TO BE VOTED ON BY CITY COUNCIL
Currently, under Albuquerque’s election code, a candidate for city councilor must receive at least 50% plus 1 of the vote to win an election without a run off outright. If no candidate receives 50% plus one of the vote, the top two finishers face off in a separate runoff election and whoever gets the 50% majority vote wins the election. Democrat City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis, both running for reelection, and Republican City Councilor Brad Winter, who is not running for reelection, introduced and ordinance adopting a rank choice voting system for the upcoming November 5, 2019 election. Ranked-choice voting is also known as “instant runoff”. Rank choice voting is an alternative to the city’s existing runoff election system and it is used in Santa Fe municipal elections.
With rank choice voting, voters rank all candidates in a race by preference. If, after the initial tally, no candidate has at least 50% of the first-place votes, the threshold required to win a City Council races, the candidate with the fewest first-preference votes is eliminated and the ballots are counted again. The process continues until a single candidate emerges with a majority of votes, thus eliminating the need for a separate runoff election. In other words, the ultimate winner of the election is determined with a mathematical calculation of votes listed at once on a single ballot. An elimination process is used and it eliminates the need for a runoff election and all campaigning time and costs associated with a runoff.
On Monday, 5, 2019, on a 5-4 vote, Councilor Isaac Benton successfully moved to have the Rank Voting Ordinance on the Council’s June 17 agenda which is the final opportunity to make the changes effective for the November 5 municipal election. The city must submit the necessary notice to the Secretary of State for ballots.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
CANDIDATES SHOULD SHOW UP ON RANK CHOICE VOTING
Ranked choice voting is a dramatic overhaul of the city election process. If enacted, it will be the first time the city is holding a combined election with other local government agencies. It is likely there will be significant confusion by voters dealing with a ballot mandating a listing of their preferred candidates to decide an election with no run off.
Now that the 2019 municipal election has begun and is in full swing and heating up, both City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton, who will be on the ballot, want to change the rules of the game in the middle of an election knowing full well it will give them an advantage over their opponents who are far less known. Benton and Davis could not care less about the perception and conflict of interest they have running for reelection and having the power to change the rules of the election in the middle of it.
Rank choice voting or instant runoff gives incumbents and unfair advantage because of their name identification. Davis and Benton should recuse themselves from voting on the changes to the election process because they will be on the November 5, 2019 ballot. Because of the dramatic change being advocated in the election process with rank choice voting, the city council should place it on the November 5, 2019 ballot for voters to decide and if it passes, it would be put in place for future elections.
“Rank Choice” voting sponsor District 2 incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton has 6 opponents seeking to replace him. The candidates are: Steve Baca (D), David B. Bearshire, Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (D), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, (I). All 6 of the candidates running against Isaac Benton need to attend the June 17, 2019 meeting and voice their opinion on Rank Choice voting in that it will have the most impact on their race. The meeting begins at 5:00 in the Vince Griego City Council Chambers at city hall. Any member of the general public can sign up to speak before the meeting with the City Clerk, people are placed on a list, and the public is given 2 minutes each to speak. Each of the candidates should consider the June 17 meeting as their first opportunity to participate in their first city council meeting as Benton’s replacement.
PUBLIC FINANCE AND NOMINATING PETITION
Collecting the $5.00 qualifying donations for public finance is a lot easier than it looks and is in fact extremely difficult, unless you are an incumbent. People simply do not like to donate to politicians. 10 out of a total 16 candidates for City Council have qualified for public finance. To each of the 10, congratulations and thank you for your participation.
Technically, only two candidates have qualified to be on the ballot. in District 2 Joseph R. Griego running against incumbent Isaac Benton and in District 8, S. Muareen Skowran running against incumbent Trudy E. Jones are the only 2 out of 16 candidates who have secured both public financing and the required nomination petition signatures to be place on the November 5, 2019 ballot. Collecting the required number of nominating signatures is not that difficult. With 23 days left to gather nominating petition signatures from register voters it is more likely than not that a solid majority, maybe even all, of the 15 candidates will qualify for the ballot by collecting the 500 qualifying signatures.
Once all the candidates secure their positions on the ballot, the races no doubt will heat up and voters can expect knocks on the door from candidates seeking their support. All too often, it is only during election time that voters see and hear personally from their City Councilors. Usually the only time voters see their City Councilors is in news reports or at press conferences to take credit for something they had little to do with.
Voters need to take advantage of the opportunity to ask the candidates where they stand on the issues that are critical to their districts. Hopefully voters will ask Isaac Benton, Pat Davis and Trudy Jones why they were such strong supporters of the disastrous ART Bus project and why they allowed the destruction of one of the finest police departments in the country by failing to exercise their oversight authority and calling into question the previous administration’s management of APD. When its all said and done, voters must understand who they are voting for and if a candidate does indeed represent their best interests and not the candidates own personal agenda.