2021 City Elections: Increase Time To Collect Nominating Petition Signatures And Public Finance Qualifying Donations; Contested Races Needed, Not Coronations

The 2021 Albuquerque Municipal election for Mayor and City Council has officially started. Election day is Tuesday, November 2, 2021. March 1 is the first day candidates can declare to seek public finance beginning an 8-month election process. The time lines for privately finance candidates are on a later time frame.

The city link listing all deadlines is here:


On the ballot this year will be the office for Mayor and the 5 odd numbered city council districts of the 9 city council seats. The council seats up for election are City Council seats 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9.


Albuquerque’s 2021 Municipal election will be none like the City has ever experienced all because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under normal circumstance, running for Mayor or City Council is a “contact sport”. Normally, running for Mayor and City Council is a rough and tumble process of dealing with voters and the press. Running for Mayor or City Council it requires very personal contact of going “door to door” to ask for voter’s support, asking for donations, attending house parties and events, attending forums and debate of all kinds.

What will hover over the entire municipal election process is to what extent will candidates for office be able to make personal contact with registered voters to collect qualifying donations for public finance and collect nominating petition signatures. Once thing for certain is the time allotted to collect qualifying donations and nominating petitions signatures is severely limited hinder because of the small percentage of citizens who have been vaccinated. Candidates and volunteers will be running a high risk to collect nominating signatures and qualifying donations. The fact is born out with the statistics for the state and county as to vaccination rates.

Following are the most current statistics on the state and county’s vaccination rates


Percent of residents fully vaccinated: 11.7%

Percent partially vaccinated: 19.2% (106,069 residents)

(Based on a Bernalillo County Population of 551,688)

The link to Bernalillo County statistics is here:



As of February 24, the Center For Disease Control Reports as follows for the entire state of New Mexico:

19.8% of New Mexico’s population has received 1 or more doses for covid-19 (414,796 residents)

9.7% of New Mexico residents have received 2 doses (203,441)

New Mexico’s population in 2019 was 2,096,829 million


On Tuesday, January 23, it was report that White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said that he expects most Americans will have access to a Covid-19 vaccine by mid- to late May or early June. That’s a slight delay from previous predictions of late March to early April. The delayed timeline comes after Johnson & Johnson, which has applied for emergency use in the U.S., cut its initial supply estimates.



From April 17 to June 19, 2021, candidates for Mayor must gather 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City.

From April 17 to June 19, 2021, Candidates for Mayor can collect the $5.00 donations and must collect 3,779 donations. Candidates for Mayor are only given 8 weeks to collect the 3,779 qualifying donations of $5.00. In 2017, there were 8 candidates for Mayor with only 1 candidate qualifying.


From May 31 to July 5, 2021, candidates for City Council must gather 500 qualifying signatures from registered voters within the district the candidate wishes to represent.

From May 31 to July 5, 2021, or approximately 4 weeks Candidates for City Council can collect the $5.00 donations only from May 31 to July 5, 2021, or approximately 4 weeks. There are varying number of $5.00 donations for each council district.


From June 8 to August 10, 2021, Privately Finance Candidates for Mayor must gather more than 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City.

From July 6 to August 10, 2021, Privately Financed Candidates for City Council must gather more than 500 signatures from registered voters within the district the candidate wishes to represent.

Privately financed candidates have no fundraising or spending limits. Privately financed candidates can raise and are free to accept campaign contributions from whatever legal source they want including contributions from individuals, businesses and corporations within the city, county, state or out of state and there is no city voter registration required.

There is no limit on what privately financed candidates can spend on their campaigns. However, there are limits on individual contributions privately financed candidates can accept from donors. Specifically, Article XIII, Section 4(e) limits the total contributions from any one person, with the only exception being the candidates themselves, and the private contribution cannot exceed 5% of the salary of the elected official at the time of filing the Declaration of Candidacy.

You can find these timeframes here:


DISCLAIMER: This blog article is not a complete outline of all the mandatory requirements for the 2021 municipal election. Any candidate for municipal office should rely on the candidate guide as the definitive requirements and deadlines, with links provided below.


Over 2 years ago, Progressive Democrat Mayor Tim Keller made it known in a November 5, 2018 election radio election news coverage that he intends to run for a second term. In mid 2019, Conservative Democrat Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales made it known to new sources that he intends to run for Mayor also telling supporters he would run on the platform of bringing down crime, dismissal of the DOJ Federal Lawsuit demanding APD reforms and consolidation of APD and the Sheriff’s office.


Albuquerque City Councilors are paid $30,600 annually and the Council President earns $32,600 annually. They are also eligible to join the Public Employees Retirement Association and earn a pension after they have served 5 full years. Health Insurance is also made available to them.

The City Council incumbents are as follows:

District 1: City Councilor Lan Sena (Democrat) : She represents Albuquerque’s Central West Side. She was appointed to the City Council in March 2020, by Mayor Tim Keller. Sources are saying she is running for a full term.

District 3: City Councilor Klarissa Peña (Democrat): She represents the southwest part of Albuquerque. She was elected to the City Council in October, 2013. Sources are saying she is running for another 4-year term.

District 5: City Councilor Cynthia D. Borrego (Democrat): She represents the Northwest part of Albuquerque. She was elected to City Council in November 2017. Councilor Borrego is the current President of the City Council and sources are saying she is running for a second 4-year term.

District 7: City Councilor Diane Gibson (Democrat): She represents Albuquerque’s mid-heights including uptown and parts of the near northeast heights. She was elected to the City Council in October 2013. Councilor Gibson is the Vice President of the City Council and sources are saying she is NOT running for a second term but that could change if no one emerges to run against her.

District 9: On February 27, City Councilor Don Harris (Republican), first elected to the City Council in 2005, has announced he is not running for another term (as if anyone knows he has been on the council for 14 years). District 9 is the far Southeast Heights and Foothills.



The City of Albuquerque “2021 CANDIDATE GUIDE” provides a detailed candidate calendar of deadlines on pages 6 to 12 of the guide. The Candidate Guide provides the dates and requirements for the filing of campaign finance reports.

The link to the Candidate Guide is here:


DISCLAIMER: This blog article should is not a complete outline of all the mandatory requirements for the 2021 municipal election. Any candidate for municipal office should rely on the candidate guide as the definitive requirements and deadlines


The rational for nominating petition signatures and minimum qualifying donations is to determine the viability of candidates and set a minimum bar to qualify for the ballot and to “cull” the slate of candidates under the philosophy only “serious candidates” need run. City hall politicians and incumbents are essentially deciding who are “viable candidates” with the minimum requirements to get on the ballot which is wrong on so many levels. Unless a candidate has a significant volunteer base of supporters, it is not likely many candidates will be able to get the minimum number of $5 qualifying donations or petition nominating signatures.

In the 2017 race for Mayor, there were 8 candidates for Mayor, 5 candidates attempted to collect the $5.00 qualifying donations with only one candidate qualifying for the public finance. In 2013, there was only 1 candidate for Mayor who qualified for public finance, with 2 others attempting to qualify and the incumbent chose to private finance.

There is no question that the COVID-19 Pandemic will have a dramatic effect on any
candidate running for Mayor or City Council. It is more than likely than not many qualified candidates will not run for Mayor or City Council until they get fully vaccinated or simply not run all. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is still very high. Responsible candidates will likely not be willing to expose their volunteers to gather signatures or donations for that matter.

Only 11.7% of Bernalillo county residents are fully vaccinated against COVID 19 while only 19.2% are partially vaccinated. Most Americans will have access to a Covid-19 vaccine by mid- to late May or early June.

The time frame of mid- to late May or early June for vaccinations availability is very problematic when the time frame to commence collecting donations and petition signatures. Public finance candidates for Mayor can begin on April 17 to collect donations and petition signatures. Public finance candidates for City Council can begin on May 31 to collect qualifying donations and nominating petition signatures.

July 6 is when privately financed candidates can start to collect nominating signatures to get on the ballot and they are allowed to fundraise anytime.

NEWS UPDATE: On March 2, it was reported that City Clerk Ethan Watson “announced [due to COVID-19] new procedures that allow the candidates to collect those signatures online, while also permitting them to still gather them in person. The office is creating a new website, in collaboration with New Mexico Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, that will use the Secretary of State’s voter registration database for verification purposes before allowing a signature. The clerk’s office also is updating a second website that allows voters to make $5 contributions for candidates seeking public financing.”



The City Council has the authority to expand the time frame in which candidates can collect both petition nominating signatures and the $5.00 qualifying donations and they should. Otherwise, you can anticipate fewer candidates making the ballot or securing the necessary qualifying donations.

The city is facing any number of problems that are bringing it to its knees. Those problems include the corona virus pandemic, business closures, high unemployment rates, exceptionally high violent crime and murders rates, continuing mismanagement of the Albuquerque Police Department, failed implementation of the Department of Justice reforms after a full 6 years and millions spent, declining revenues and gross receipts tax, high unemployment rates, persistent and increasing homeless numbers, a lack of mental health and counseling programs and very little economic development, just to mention a few.

The city can go no longer afford to elect a Mayor and City Council based upon promises and nothing but eternal hope for better times and for a better future. What is needed are elected officials that actually know what they are doing and will make the hard decisions without their eye on the next election or to placate their base.

It is hoped that there will be more than just one candidate opposing all incumbents. What is needed is a healthy debate on solutions and new ideas to solve our mutual problems. Such a debate can only happen with contested elections. It is for these reasons the city council should extend the time to collect nominating petitions and qualifying donations.

The very last thing the city needs is the coronation of an unopposed incumbent Mayor and 5 unopposed city councilors.

Related links are here:


The link to the 2021 Candidate Guide is here:


The link to Public Finance General Information is here:


The link to Election Matching Funds information is here:


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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.