Albuquerque Democrats Mayor Tim Keller and Congresswoman Debra Harland released a joint video endorsing Democratic Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac (IKE) Benton and Pat Davis for another term to the Albuquerque City Council and newcomer Ane C. Romero in the District 4 City Council race. The joint endorsement has raised more than a few political eyebrows, especially among Democratic activists. The Debra Haaland endorsement in particular appears to be nothing more than a political payback to Pat Davis who endorsed her when she ran for congress. You can view the full video here:
In the video endorsement, both Mayor Keller and Congresswomen Haaland proclaim that Benton and Davis have been tremendous City Councilors and are in the best positions to move Albuquerque forward and stating “With the right leadership we truly can come together to be the best city we can be.” Keller has been in office for 21 months and Haaland has been in office 7 months, but they both think they know Davis and Benton have done such great jobs for the last 4 years that they need to be reelected.
Democrat Isaac (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, yet he has shown more loyalty and cooperation with Republican causes than Democratic causes on the City Council. Benton ran unopposed in 2015. Democrat Isaac Benton has 4 Democratic opponents: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (D), Zack Quintero, (D). Connie Vigil is also running as an Independent. Nelson and Quintero have been political activists in the Democratic Party.
Democrat City Councilor Pat Davis was elected to the Albuquerque City Council on 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 unsuccessfully for US Congress in the First Congressional District. Davis withdrew from the race when he polled at 3% and could not raise the money to run a viable campaign.
Before Davis withdrew from the congressional race, Davis had no problem accusing the then Democrat front runner former US Attorney for New Mexico Damon Martinez of being a “racist”, which was an absolute lie. Pat Davis endorsed Debra Haaland who went on to become elected to congress. Democrat Pat Davis has only one opponent: Gina Naomi Dennis a progressive Democrat, who is an attorney, a neighborhood activist and was a Bernie Sanders delegate to the Democratic Party National Convention in 2016.
District 4 Race
District 4 has 4 candidates who qualified for the ballot and running to replace Brad Winter. Those candidates are: Brook L. Bassen, Athena Ann Christodoulou, Ane C. Romero, Hailey Josselyn Roy. Winter has endorsed the sole Republican running who is Brook L. Bassen. The endorsement of Ane C. Romero was somewhat muted but none the less was made over other Democrats.
COMMENTARY AND ANAYSIS
“We stand with Ike” proclaimed Keller and Haaland in a joint endorsement of Benton. Hopefully, Keller and Haaland will stumble and fall flat on their faces with their endorsements of Ike Benton and Pat Davis. This is what you call political payback given the support Benton and Davis gave to Keller and Haaland when they were running for office themselves. Too bad. There are 3 very qualified and deserving Democrats running against Ike Benton and one solid progressive Democrat who is running against Pat Davis.
Both Keller and Haaland consider themselves “progressive democrats”. Their endorsements of Benton and Davis are ill advised and should have never been made, but they obviously want to act as “king makers” over the other Democrats. Keller in particular has now alienated two potential Democratic City Councilors whose votes he will need in the long run if his chosen two of Davis and Benton are not reelected.
DYNAMIC DUO VOTING LIKE REPUBLICANS
Isaac Benton and Pat Davis have acted more like Republicans and not the progressives they proclaim to be within the Democratic Party. They both have voting records that are more Republican than Democrat with their support of the disastrous ART Bus project and supporting final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan, now known as the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO).
To be blunt, both Isaac Benton and Pat Davis need to voted out of office and be replaced with true progressive democrats. Davis has never apologized to former US Attorney Democrat Damon Martinez for calling him a racist when he ran for congress. Debra Haaland for her part had no problem with Davis calling Damon Martinez a racist and tolerated it and allowed it on her campaign letter head. Keller now ignores Davis calling Martinez a racist even though he hired Damon Martinez as a policy writer for the Albuquerque Police Department.
Both Davis and Benton proclaim to be “progressive democrats”. However, the Benton and Davis City Council voting records say otherwise. During the past four 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, at least not until now when they want to be elected again.
There are at least 8 egregious specific votes Isaac Benton’s and Pat Davis’s that reveal the true voting record as going against core Democratic principles:
1. Councilors Benton and Davis voted repeatedly for 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 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 have failed to attend a single one of the federal court hearings on the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA).
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 and they have taken full advantage of it.
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.
What people should be sick of are Democrats acting and talking like Republicans especially after they get elected to positions like City Council and Mayor and arguing that they are being “nonpartisan”. Both City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis will say that they have done a great job as City Councilors by acting “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.
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 disappointing is if Davis and Benton are elected again saying they are Progressives Democrats when in fact they vote like conservative Republicans.
Mayor Tim Keller and Congresswoman Debra Haaland should have kept their egos desiring to be “king makers” and their endorsements to themselves. Keller and Haaland have now alienated the other very qualified Democrats running and their supporters they both will need for any reelection bid.