Ever since Mayor Tim Keller assumed office on December 1, 2017, he has taken photo ops and press conferences to an all new level by attending protest rallies to speak at, attending marches, attending heavy metal concerts to introduce the band, running in track meets and participating in exhibition football games as the quarterback and enjoying reliving his high school glory days, and posting pictures and videos on his FACEBOOK page. He even posts his press conferences on FACEBOOK. People can take great pride with the young, positive image Mayor Keller and his wife and young family are portraying for Albuquerque and it is refreshing on many levels.
On January 11, 2020, Mayor Keller did not disappoint the public nor all the news media with public relations when he gave his 3rd State of the City Address held at the Albuquerque Convention Center Kiva Auditorium. It was open to the general public and widely advertised as a community event. About 1,000 people attended and the Mayor spoke for 45 minutes with City and County elected Officials sitting behind him on the stage as he spoke from a podium to the audience. The “Heavy Metal Mayor” as he likes to be called was introduced as heavy metal played as he stepped unto the stage with his two very young children with First Lady Kisten Keller also attending. Keller’s 3rd state of the city address was a far cry from his first that was held in 2018 at a luncheon before the contractor and developer organization NAIOP and the second held in 20219 at the Hispanic Cultural Center that took on the feel of a campaign speech including the waiving of placards.
CONTENTS OF 2020 STATE OF THE CITY ADDRESS
In his State of the City address, Mayor Keller outlined and summarized what he felt were his administration’s biggest accomplishments during his first two years in office.
Public safety continues to be Mayor Keller’s primary focus. The city continues to grapple with high violent and murder crime rates as it recorded 82 homicides in 2019, the largest number in the city’s history in one year. Mayor Keller came under fire late last year when APD acknowledged it had been inadvertently providing inaccurate crime statistics that significantly overstated improvements as he held press conferences announcing double digit reductions in crime statistics. APD subsequently released statistics that showed far more lower reductions in property crime and little change in the city’s violent crime rates.
Mayor Keller repeated his goal of adding 100 new officers each year and noted when he came into office, APD had 850 sworn police. As of January 1, 2020, APD has 949 police down from 980 reported in August. The reduction can be attributed to retirements. According to Keller, APD will hit 1,000 officers in 2020. Keller also said said the city also intends to clear the rape kit backlog this year.
Mayor Keller announced that the City has filed a Motion with the Federal Court in the of a five-year-old agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, citing APD’s consistent progress toward the mandated police reforms. According to Keller about 25% of the 276 requirements outlined in the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) have been implemented and he said:
“It is one giant step closer to freeing up additional officers and tax payer funding to focus back on crime. … This is going to be the largest step forward the city has taken to address these challenges since it all started in 2014”
Keller also praised the addition of 100 new officers to the ranks of APD during 2019 by saying:
“In 2020, for the first time in years, our department is going to be one thousand officers strong. ”
Mayor Keller also said he would work to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, starting with constructing a solar power plant that will power half of the city’s government buildings and said:
“In addition to that, we’ve put $25 million in solar panels on just about every building we can find that the city owns. ”
In his address, Keller talked about the increase homelessness in the city and how to combat drug addiction . The city recently announced they would keep their winter homeless shelter open year-round until a the new centrally located shelter is built. On November 5, 2019, voters approved for $14 million in general obligation bond funding to build a 24 hour, 7 day centralized homeless shelter that will accommodate an estimated 300 people and help guide them to social services and permanent housing. The city is also requesting an additional $14 million from the 2020 New Mexico Legislature to build the shelter. The city is in the process of identifying a location and is expected to break ground on the new shelter next winter.
The mayor also said he would work to reduce the city’s carbon footprint, starting with constructing a solar power plant that will power half of the city’s government buildings and said:
“In addition to that, we’ve put $25 million in solar panels on just about every building we can find that the city owns” .
Mayor Keller discussed the state of the local economy. According to Keller, the city added 3,100 jobs in 2019 citing the state Department of Workforce Solutions most recent labor market review. The city made great strides last year in economic development with the announcement of Netflix locating production facilities, TopGolf golf complex, NBC Universal purchasing Albuquerque Production studeos, Kairos Power and more. The industries making the biggest gains were “professional and business services” and the leisure/hospitality sector. Mayor Keller said:
“For the first time, total employment is officially higher than it was before the recession”
News coverage can be found here:
CONCLUSION AND ANALYSIS
Mayor Tim Keller made it know on election night November 5, 2019 in a radio interview he intends to run for a second 4-year term as Mayor. Two years ago, Candidate Tim Keller campaigned to be elected mayor on the platform of implementing the U.S. Department of Justice-mandated reforms, increasing the size of the Albuquerque Police Department to 1,200 sworn police, returning to community-based policing and promising to bring down skyrocketing crime rates and promising not to raise taxes without a public vote even for public safety. Keller broke his promise when he signed a gross receipts tax increase enacted by the City Council in May, 2018. Based upon the contents of his 2020 State of the City Address, it is apparent that the issues have not changed much and they will be the same issues in the 2020 election. The difference is, voters will be deciding if in fact Mayor Tim Keller has kept his promises and done a good job. It easier to run for office making promises with no record as opposed to defending a record.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzalez has made it known that he intends to run for Mayor in 2021 on a law and order platform saying Keller has made things worse when it comes to crime and the management of APD, a theme that just may resonate with voters. It is anticipated that the Republican party will be seeking a candidate of their own that could win the election with the Democrat vote split between Keller and Gonzalez. Keller and Gonzales could easily split the Democratic Vote as was the case in 2009 when incumbent Mayor Marty Chavez lost his bid for a 4th term to Republican Richard Berry.