City Council District 2 Runoff Is Race Between Failed Past City Leadership v. Future City Leadership; Vote Zack Quintero

A runoff election for Albuquerque City Council District 2 is scheduled for November 10. City Council District 2 is the city-center district encompassing Downtown, Old Town, parts of the University of New Mexico and parts of the North Valley. District 2 is heavily Hispanic and considered Democrat. A runoff election is required because no one candidate of 5 candidates secured the required 50% plus one vote on Nov. 5 to avoid a runoff.

The City Council District 2 runoff election is between 14-year incumbent City Councilor Isaac Benton, age 67, and Zack Quintero, age 28, an economist and recent UNM Law school graduate. Both Quintero and Benton qualified for public finance, but both are also receiving assistance from measured finance committees that have attacked them both.


On November 27, the Albuquerque Journal published a font page District 2 profile of candidates Isaac Benton and Zack Quintero. The Albuquerque Journal article is a must read for anyone in City Council District 2 who has not voted yet in the run off . You can review the full article at the below link:


Zack Quintero is a 4th generation working class New Mexican and a graduate of New Mexico’s public-school system. He graduated from the UNM School of law in the spring of 2019 with a Juris Doctorate of Law. He has earned a bachelor’s degree in economics and bachelor’s degree in government from New Mexico State University.

Mr. Quintero is currently employed as a legal analyst with the law firm of Roybal Mack and Cordova. He has been a law clerk with the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty and was employed as a city economist and economic development specialist with the City of Santa Fe. While with Santa Fe city government, he helped manage the contract between the City of Santa Fe and Meow Wolf which helped them to remain in the state. Meow Wolf is a major sponsor of United New Mexico Soccer Team which is based in Albuquerque.

Mr. Quintero lists as major professional accomplishment as building and managing a statewide portal to connect graduates to jobs in New Mexico in order to keep young people talent here and drafted and managed workforce contracts and investments between the city and the creative arts sector. Mr. Quintero also drafted and managed workforce contracts and investments between the city and the creative arts sector.

Zack Quintero is campaigning on a promise of change for City Council District 2. His platform and his positions on issues are very reflective of the needs of District 2 and the city’s needs. His 5-point platform is:

1.Fully fund community policing. Quintero wants to “establish a residential burglary unit team within APD and invest in shot detection systems that help our officers’ triangulate gun related crimes.”

2.Targeted funding to address behavioral health and addiction issues. Quintero supported the bond for a homeless center and wants to provide wrap-around services that connect people to mental health and addiction resources.

3. Work with the Mayor and City Council to create a citywide labor force plan to retain our recent graduates. Quintero has said he wants to “connect 5,000 graduates to jobs in health care, tech, education, government, and the creative arts through a coordinated jobs plan.”

4. Invest in after school and summer opportunities for the city’s youth

5. Provide partial student loan relief to graduates who commit 5 years to Albuquerque

In addition to his platform issues, Quintero has taken positions on major issues affecting District 2 and the city. Those issues include:

Quintero has said the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) enacted two years ago by the city council resulted in many historical neighborhoods losing protections they once had. His opponent was a sponsor of the IDO which was a major priority of the former Republican Mayor and the development community. (See below Benton profile). The IDO calls for the city to review 12 community planning areas over five years, but Quintero wants to invest in planning personal to cut the review to two years.

With respect to the ART Bus project, Quintero questioned how city leaders allowed it to advance, saying the city failed to “do some basic things” like ensure the quality of the electric buses originally purchased and which eventually had to be replaced with diesel buses and the city failing to get adequate public feedback on the entire project.

Quintero supports mandatory paid leave for workers in the city and has said he likes the Bernalillo County ordinance as it was originally passed. A similar ordinance is now pending before the City Council.


The Friday before the November 5 election, a mailer was sent out by a measured finance committee identified as “Progressive Abq” attacking Zack Quintero. “Progressive Abq” was formed to promote the candidacy of Isaac Benton. The Progressive ABQ committee sent a series of mailers questioning Quintero’s resumé. Political observers were saying that there was a poll showing Mr. Quintero was gaining on Benton in the race, hence the attack mailers.

The mailer proclaimed “ZACK QUINTERO DIDN’T INVENT CHRISTMAS ENCHILADAS” an obvious reference to his Hispanic heritage. The mailer had a color photo that was “photo shopped” with the head of a smiling Zack Quintero superimposed on the body of another man of color standing in a kitchen with the person dressed in a short sleeve shirt crossing their arms to reveal an extensive number of tattoos on both arms. Zack Quintero has no tattoos. Candidate Zack Quintero denounced the mailer as racist, as did one of his opponents Robert Blanquera Nelson and other elected officials.


Isaac (Ike) Benton, 68, is the District 2 City Councilor and was first elected to the council in 2005. Benton is a retired architect and avowed urbanist. At debate forums, Benton emphasizes his 14 years of experience on the city council and highlights his legislative efforts to fund affordable housing, promote walkability and ensure preservation of historic properties such as the Rail Yards.

What is interesting is the Albuquerque Journal story on the runoff race says both Benton and Quintero are progressives, which is simply not at all true. The link to the Journal candidate profile article is here:

Benton proclaims he understands the area he represents, but his voting record says otherwise. For a full 8 years when Republican Richard Berry was Mayor, Benton acted, talked and voted more like a Republican than as progressive democrat he proclaims to be to voters. All one has to do is review Benton’s voting record:

Benton voted not once, but twice to cut APD’s budget reducing the amount of financing for police officers and their numbers and using the financing for capital projects.

Benton voted repeatedly for the disastrous ART Bus project that has destroyed the character of Route 66. He refused to place ART on the ballot saying it was the Mayor’s project and he supported it. Benton voted to use $13 million dollars in revenue bonds to pay for the ART Bus project.

Benton 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.

The most egregious votes by Benton when Berry was Mayor is when he voted for the final adoption of the ABC-Z comprehensive plan which will have long term impact on our historical neighborhoods, many which are in his District 2, 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’s support of the ABC-Z plan and his sponsorship was clearly against his own constituents.

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 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, Benton again voted to override Democrat Mayor Keller’s veto of the funding.

Isaac Benton has said he has done a great job as a City Councilor by acting “non-partisan” and that he needed to cooperate with Republicans to get things done.


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”.

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 the best interests of your own constituents.

What would be disappointing is if Isaac Benton is elected again saying he is Progressives Democrat when in fact he has voted so very often like a conservative Republican.


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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.