Election 2019 Results: 2 Incumbents Win; 2 Runoffs; All City Bonds And APS Bonds Pass; Democracy Dollars Fails

For the last 35+ years, New Mexico political blogger Joe Monahan has done election coverage both on his blog and on the radio the day before the election and election day. This election day is no different. On November 6, Mr. Monahan published an excellent summary and analysis of the November 5 results on his blog:


Below is the Monahan election results report followed by the raw vote numbers for City Council and Propositions 1, Election Code Update and Proposition 2, Democracy Dollars with final commentary:

Election ’19: Turnout Is The Surprise Of The Night, Two Council Run-Offs In Store, All Bonds Pass But Voters Send Message On Some And APS Gets A Reprieve

There’s always a surprise or two on any Election Night and last night was no different in Election ’19, except the surprise came with a twist.

The surprise wasn’t what happened on the ballot, it was who cast the ballots. Turnout soared in the off-year election to just over 97,000, 24 percent of the 419,000 registered BernCo voters.

BernCo Clerk Linda Stover said the legislature’s decision to consolidate city elections with smaller elections–like the APS bonds that once were previously held separately–proved a winner. Then there was the clerk’s heavy election advertising and the four contested ABQ city council races that encouraged voting. It was a solid and welcome start to the new system.

As for the election results. . . away we go!

In District 2 Dem ABQ City Councilor Ike Benton easily held off five challengers but because he fell short of 50 percent–coming in at 42–there will be a December 10 run-off for the Valley seat between him and second place finisher Zack Quintero.

That’s the good news for Quintero. The bad news is that he lagged Benton by 21 points, finishing with just 21 percent of the vote. While the run-off offers Quintero a second chance it’s not a bet you would take running to Santa Ana Casino. Still, if Quintero can lasso the support of the other lagging candidates, including onetime Republican turned independent Connie Vigil who scored 11 percent, he has a shot. If outside groups think there’s some Benton blood in the water they could join the fray.

Benton was endorsed by Mayor Keller, Senator Heinrich and Congresswoman Haaland. They will now be called on to help Benton pull out the run-off win.

There was some last hours second-guessing of Benton. In the early voting Benton scored 46 percent but faded to 42 percent when the Election Day vote was tallied. Quintero’s messaging over a controversial mailer from a progressive PAC backing Benton may have made a a difference as well as his last minute barrage of mail attacks over Benton’s support of ART and his record on crime fighting.


In District 4 in the NE Heights Democrat Ane Romero survived to fight another day, but only barely. Republican Brook Bassan scored 48.97 percent, just shy of the needed 50 percent to avoid a Dec. 10 run-off with Romero who received 42 percent. A third Dem candidate scored 9 percent and Romero will work to get those voters in her column for the run-off.

Some Dems said Romero’s campaign missed an opportunity by not hammering Bassan harder over the six party switches Romero said Bassan had made over the years. Romero now has a second shot.

Bassan will be narrowly favored in the rematch because of the Republican lean of the district. GOP voters are seen as more motivated as they work to keep the seat in GOP hands. It has long been held by retiring GOP Councilor Brad Winter.

All in all, it will be a run-off race to watch along with those hot holiday shopping sales.


In District 6 in the SE Heights Dem Councilor Pat Davis had an easy win over challenger Gina Naomi Dennis. Davis won a second four year term 57 to 43. The win was not unexpected as Davis has championed progressive causes favored in the district and Mayor Keller, popular in the district, endorsed Davis. Also, Davis’ support of the controversial ART project and his crime fighting record in a city suffering a crime epidemic did not undergo harsh scrutiny by his foe.


In District 8 in the far NE Heights it was a mild surprise when Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones, who had been hammered by the progressive Working Families Party, trounced Dem Maurreen Skowran. It was Jones 57 to 43. Jones will now begin a fourth four year term.

The Bassan and Jones showings were good news for the beleaguered GOP. By finally cutting their losses after their devastating 2018 defeats in big BernCo the party saw a glimmer of hope of holding on to what’s left of their fort in 2020.

Dem Councilor Ken Sanchez, who analyzed the races on our KANW 89.1 FM Election night coverage and who supported Jones, attributed her win in part to her ability to work across party lines. Others opined that the progressive groups backing Skowran erred when they introduced Trump into the race. They said that hardened GOP support for Jones rather than helping Skowran. Where were Skowran’s attacks on Jones over ART and runaway crime? They asked.


Democracy dollars was a dud with the ABQ electorate, falling to defeat 51 to 49 percent. Sure, it was close but not really. Carla Sonntag, president of the NM Business Coalition, told our KANW audience her group tallied at least a stunning $500,0000 in outside progressive support for the initiative in in kind and cash donations. In that context, it wasn’t close.

The proposal would have given each eligible citizen a $25 voucher to contribute to the publicly financed candidate mayoral or council candidates of their choice. It was a gambit to level the playing field with privately financed candidates. But political consultant Sisto Abeyta said on our air that the message was hard to communicate and understand.

Progressives, mainly financed with out of state money, also managed to get a voter initiative for a sick leave ordinance on the city ballot in 2017. It too was narrowly defeated.

On the other hand the proposition to update the city’s public financing system by awarding more money to publicly financed council and mayor candidates did pass muster with the voters, winning 58 to 42.


All the city bond issues totaling some $128 million handily passed, but there was a bit of reticence over the $21 million bond package that included $14 million for a homeless shelter. It drew 69.63 percent support, stopping short of the over 70 percent margins many other bonds scored.

Citizens were heard complaining that they feared the 300 person capacity shelter would be in their backyards. But Mayor Keller told the KANW-FM audience last night that realistically there are only five possible locations and that all of them need to be near downtown where many homeless services are already located. Keller and the council will now get to work finalizing a location.


We overlooked this one in our hour long special election report, but there was some payback for the hyper-controversial ART project. The public transportation transit bond won, but only received 58 percent support, far short of what the other bonds received. Voters have been up in arms over the rapid transit plan down Central Ave. and many showed it at the voting booths.

The proposal to renew a quarter cent tax for transportation did not encounter rough waters, The tax, first approved in 1999 won renewal with 65 percent of the vote. However, it won’t be up for renewal again. There was no sunset provision on this year’s renewal.


And that’s not all. Voters sent a message to Mayor Keller and other supporters of renovating the historic ABQ Rail Yards. The Metropolitan Redevelopment Bonds, which included $5 million to clean up the Rail Yards, received just 58.09 percent support, the lowest of all the bond issues.

The city bought the Rail Yards in 2007 but planned development has mostly stalled. The ongoing expense of maintaining and renovating the Yards in hopes of private sector interest, appears to be wearing on voters.


ABQ Public Schools was celebrating Election Night, after suffering a blistering defeat earlier in the year. The second trip to the table with a much leaner bond package–$100 million–than the one that was defeated in February was a winner. Voters also approved the mill levy for APS. The bonds passed with 68 percent support and the mill levy won with 63 percent.

CNM won a vote of community support. The bond for the community college garnered 70 percent support.

Thanks for joining us here today and on the radio last night. The voters say we’re not done with Election ’19. We have two council run-off elections on tap for December 10. We’ll keep you posted.”

You can email Joe Monahan at newsguy@yahoo.com and the link to his blog is here http://joemonahansnewmexico.blogspot.com/


Below are the raw numbers for all four of the City Council races. The runoff for Districts 2 and 4 will be held on December 10.


Isaac Benton: 4,836 (42.04%) (Runoff Candidate)
Connie Vigil: 1,267 (11%)
Steven Baca: 674 (5.85%)
Joseph R. Griego: 662 (5.76%)
Robert Blanquerqa Nelson: 1,692 (14.69%)
Zack Quintero: 2,337 (20.66%) (Runoff Candidate)


Brook l. Bassan: 5,095 (48.97%) (Runoff Candidate)
Athena Ann Christodoulou: 907 (8.71%)
Ane C. Romero: 4,403 (42.33%) (Runoff Candidate)

District 6 City Councilor:

Patrick M. Davis: 4,246 (56.78%) (Re elected to Second term)
Gina Naomi Dennis: 3,230 (43.22%)

District 8 City Council

Trudy Jones: 7,305 (56.51%) (Re elected to 3 term)
Maureen Skowan: 5,624 (43.49%)

PROPOSITION 1: Amendments to Open and Ethic Elections Code. This proposition ostensibly deals with updating the city’s public finance ordinance by increasing the amount given to candidates for Mayor. Under Proposition 1, the amount given to qualifying candidates increased from $1.00 to $1.75 per voter, which means public fiancé will go from $380,000 to $665,000 in public finance paid by the city to candidates for Mayor.

YES: 46,468
NO: 38,813

PROPOSITION 2: Democracy Dollars. This proposition would have set up a city funded voucher system to use city general funds to give out $25 vouchers to all residents, not just registered voters nor United States Citizens, who in turn would have given the vouchers to candidates they support. A measured Finance Committee was formed to promote Democracy Dollars and it reported $257,735 in in-kind contributions as of Nov. 1, much of it staff time. Democracy Dollars was endorsed and supported by progressive organizations Common Cause New Mexico, Center for Civic Policy, New Mexico Working Families Party, Equality New Mexico and OLÉ. It was also endorsed by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party.

YES: 39,232 (49%)
NO: 41,249 (51%)


Congratulations to City Councilor incumbents Pat Davis and Trudy Jones for being elected to another term on the City Council.

Best of luck to both Isaac Benton and Zack Quintero in District 2 and to both Brook L. Bassan and Ane Romero in District 4 as they face off in the run off to be held on December 10.

A heartfelt congratulations to all the voters in the November 5, 2019 election for taking time out to exercise their right to vote. City residents and voters can take great pride in making a financial commitment to sustain our City and our public-school system with the enactment of all the bonds.

Given today’s political climate, where so many voters seem to be happy or content just seeing things just burn down, President Abraham Lincoln said it best about the importance of voting:

“Elections belong to the people. It’s their decision. If they decide to turn their back on the fire and burn their behinds, then they will just have to sit on their blisters.”

If you did not vote on November 5, please do not bitch about how bad things are in our community or with your city councilor and you can just sit on your blisters.


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Pete Dinelli was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He is of Italian and Hispanic descent. He is a 1970 graduate of Del Norte High School, a 1974 graduate of Eastern New Mexico University with a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration and a 1977 graduate of St. Mary's School of Law, San Antonio, Texas. Pete has a 40 year history of community involvement and service as an elected and appointed official and as a practicing attorney in Albuquerque. Pete and his wife Betty Case Dinelli have been married since 1984 and they have two adult sons, Mark, who is an attorney and George, who is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). Pete has been a licensed New Mexico attorney since 1978. Pete has over 27 years of municipal and state government service. Pete’s service to Albuquerque has been extensive. He has been an elected Albuquerque City Councilor, serving as Vice President. He has served as a Worker’s Compensation Judge with Statewide jurisdiction. Pete has been a prosecutor for 15 years and has served as a Bernalillo County Chief Deputy District Attorney, as an Assistant Attorney General and Assistant District Attorney and as a Deputy City Attorney. For eight years, Pete was employed with the City of Albuquerque both as a Deputy City Attorney and Chief Public Safety Officer overseeing the city departments of police, fire, 911 emergency call center and the emergency operations center. While with the City of Albuquerque Legal Department, Pete served as Director of the Safe City Strike Force and Interim Director of the 911 Emergency Operations Center. Pete’s community involvement includes being a past President of the Albuquerque Kiwanis Club, past President of the Our Lady of Fatima School Board, and Board of Directors of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation.