Democrat City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis are seeking to be elected to another term on the Albuquerque city Council with the municipal election to be held on Tuesday, November 5, 2019. The November 5, 2019 election will be the first consolidated elections for the City of Albuquerque, which will include City Council elections and capital improvement bonds, the Villages of Tijeras and Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, the Albuquerque Public School Board, CNM, the Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control District and the Ciudad Soil and Water Conservation Board. Voters will get one ballot for the races that pertain to them when they go to vote based on their voter registration.
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. Benton ran unopposed in 2015. Democrat (D) Isaac Benton has 5 opponents: Steve Baca (D), Joseph Griego (D), Robert Raymond Blanquera Nelson (D), Zack Quintero, (D) and Connie Vigil, an Independent.
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 Damon Martinez of being a “racist”, which was a lie, and Davis endorsed the eventual Democratic nominee who went on to become elected to congress. Democrat (D) 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.
ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY
You always know when it’s an election year when politicians call a press conference to announce new initiative’s and funding to please their constituents and curry favor to get back in the good graces of their constituents. What is pathetic is when those same politicians think that their constituents are so damn stupid or naïve not to realize their actions are to make amends for past positions and votes.
Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton are two such politicians running to be elected again to the Albuquerque City Council. Specific instances this past year alone where both have tried to get back in the good graces of their constituents include the following:
1. On May 3, 2019, Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton and Pat Davis held a press conference to announce their proposal to invest up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for the Nob Hill area affected by the ART Bus project. Included is $500,000 in one-time funding for grants to nonprofit business associations and merchant groups along the Nob Hill area central corridor. Many business owners and residents in Nob Hill along the Central Corridor where the ART Bus project was constructed have complained about repeated vandalism in the area and numerous break-ins resulting in the businesses having to spend money on expensive repairs and security measures. The only reason Benton and Davis supported investing up to $1.5 million in specific Central corridor for “public safety” initiatives and marketing measures for the Nob Hill area affected by the ART Bus project is that they hope their constituents will “forgive and forget” their past support of the ART Bus project and their refusal to place it on the ballot for a public vote.
2. On August 13, 2019 a mere 4 days after the Bernalillo County Commission enacted the county paid sick leave ordinance, Albuquerque City Councilors Pat Davis and Isaac Benton ordered an economic analysis of the paid sick leave legislation enacted by the county to see how it would work in Albuquerque. It was late in 2018 that Davis introduced a “paid sick leave” bill for the city council to consider. The paid sick leave ordinance has yet to have a committee hearing and make it to the full council for a vote. Davis said he knows his bill “lacks enough votes” on the nine-member council to pass it even though the council is controlled by a Democratic majority of 6 to 3 Republicans. Benton and Davis demand for an economic analysis of the paid sick leave should have been done long before Davis introduced his legislation and amounts to nothing more than a publicity stunt in an effort to shore up sagging support within their progressive Democratic districts so they can say all the right things to get media attention and for progressive Democrats to hear.
3. On August 16, Mayor Tim Keller issued an administrative executive order banning guns from city community centers and from the city’s health and social service centers. Not to be out done by Mayor Tim Keller, on Wednesday September 18, Albuquerque City Councilors Isaac Benton, Pat Davis, citing more than a dozen shootings that have occurred at government buildings and public meetings around the country in the past 22 years, introduced legislation to ban guns on city properties. The ordinance bans guns on “any city structure, building, or office space which is owned, leased or otherwise occupied by the City for purposes of hosting the public, or conducting business with the public”. The proposed ordinance would include City Hall, all parks, libraries, and any place the City Council, city commissions or elected officials are holding an open meeting.
Davis on his own also introduced two other gun-related bills:
The first requires gun owners to keep their firearms locked up when outside of their immediate possession and control. The proposed laws would require people in Albuquerque to keep their guns locked in a safe at home or with a secure device in the car when they are not with them.
The second would make it illegal to threaten mass violence in Albuquerque, including over social media, which Davis said would allow police to initiate investigations sooner than they now can.
All 3 of the proposed city ordinances likely violate the New Mexico Constitution prohibiting municipalities from enacting legislation regulating citizens “right to bear arms” under Article II, Section 6 of the Constitution of New Mexico” which states as follows:
“No law shall abridge the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms for security and defense, for lawful hunting and recreational use and for other lawful purposes, but nothing herein shall be held to permit the carrying of concealed weapons. No municipality or county shall regulate, in any way, an incident of the right to keep and bear arms.”
The proposed city ordinances clearly exceed the authority of the Albuquerque City Council which is zero under the New Mexico Constitution. It is well settled case law that gun control measures are within the exclusive authority of the New Mexico legislature which has enacted gun control legislation and will be considering even more in the 2020 legislative session.
For more on New Mexico statutes and case law on gun control see:
TALK LIKE DEMOCRATS VOTE LIKE REPUBLICANS
Both Davis and Benton proclaim to be “progressive democrats”. However, their 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 and 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.
Pat Davis has only one opponent after so many in the Nob Hill business area complained about him not listening to them and voting repeatedly against the area’s best interests. At one time, an effort was undertaken to initiate a recall against Davis, but nothing ever materialized.
What people should be sick of are Democrats acting and talking like Republicans especially after they get elected to positions like City Council 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.
Any of those running against Davis and Benton would better serve voters of District 2 and 6. City Councilors Benton and Davis need to be thanked for their service and voted out of office. If their constituents “forgive and forget” they deserve the representation they get for another 4 years and cease any complaints of two city counselors ignoring what they want and who promote their own personal agendas and political careers.