Before You Sign Nominating Petitions Or Donate $5, Ask Questions

The 2021 Albuquerque Municipal election for Mayor and City Council officially started on March 1. It was the first day candidates can declare to seek public finance beginning an 8-month election process. Election day is Tuesday, November 2, 2021. 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.

Thus far, there are 4 candidates for Mayor and 10 candidates for city council in the various council districts. The postscript to this blog contains a listing of those known to be running as well as the time frames to collect $5 qualifying donations and petition nominating signatures from registered Albuquerque voters.

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

QUESTIONS AND ISSUES

Before signing any petitions or donating to candidates, voters should know where candidates stand on the issues they care about and what they will do if elected. A few questions and issues candidates for Mayor need to think about and disclose their positions on include the following:

CITY PERSONNEL AND SERVICES:

1. Should the current Chief Administrative Officer, City Attorney, Chief of Police, Fire Department Chief, Chief of Staff, Chief Operations Officer and all other current department directors be replaced and if so with whom?
2. Are you in favor of a state “right to work statute” that would impact or eliminate city employee unions?
3. Should city unions be prohibited from endorsing candidates for municipal office?
4. Are you in favor of privatizing city services or work such as public safety, the 311 call center operations, the bus system or the maintenance and repair work done at city facilities such as the Bio Park?

APD AND CRIME:

1.What is your position on the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) consent decree and mandated reforms?
2. The city and APD have been working under a federal court approved settlement agreement for 6 years after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and the use of deadly force. The city has spent millions a year on the reforms and the city is no closer to the dismissal of the case. Is it time to have APD placed in receivership of the federal court or should the case just be dismissed?
3. What would you do to enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?
4. Should the APD Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chiefs and APD command staff be replaced with a national search and replaced by “outsiders”?
5. Should a national search be conducted for a new law enforcement management team to assume control of APD and make changes and implement the DOJ consent decree mandated reforms?
6. Should the function of Internal Affairs be removed from APD and civilianized under the city Office of Inspector General, the Internal Audit Department and the City Human Resources Department?
7. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?
8. Since 2010, there have been 41 police officer involved shootings and the city has paid out $50 million to settle deadly force and excessive use of force cases. Should the City return to a “no settlement” policy involving alleged police misconduct cases and require a trial on the merits or a damages jury trial?
9 What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in Albuquerque?
10. Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?
11. Should APD and the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office be abolished and consolidated to form one regional law enforcement agency, combining resources with the appointment of a governing civilian authority and the appointment of a Superintendent of Public Safety?

THE ECONOMY:

1.What strategy would you implement to bring new industries, corporations and jobs to Albuquerque?
2. Albuquerque’s major growth industries include health care, transportation, manufacturing, retail and tourism with an emerging film industry. What programs would you propose to help or enhance these industries?
3. Do you intend to keep the current Director of the City’s Economic Development Department and support staff?
4.The current budget for the Economic Development is $7.5 million out of a $1.2 Billion Budget, would you be in favor of more than tripling the budget to allow for investment grants?
5. To what extent should tax increment districts, industrial revenue bonds and income bonds be used to spur Albuquerque’s economy?
6. What financial incentives do you feel the city can or should offer and provide to the private sector to attract new industry and jobs to Albuquerque, and should that include start-up grants or loans with “claw back” provisions?
7. What sort of private/public partnership agreements or programs should be implemented to spur economic development?
8. What sort of programs or major projects or facilities, if any, should the city partner with the State or County to spur economic development?
9. What programs can the city implement to better coordinate its economic development with the University of New Mexico and the Community College of New Mexico (CNM) to insure an adequately trained workforce for new employers locating to Albuquerque?
10. Are you in favor of the enactment of a gross receipt tax or property tax dedicated strictly to economic development, programs or construction projects to revitalize Albuquerque that would be enacted by the City Council or be voter approved?
11. What programs can Albuquerque implement to insure better cooperation with Sandia Labs and the transfer of technology information for economic development.
12. On September 6, 2019, a $29 million infrastructure bond tax package was approved by the Albuquerque City Council at the Mayor’s request to be financed by the City’s Lodger’s Tax. The lodger tax bond package was labeled as a “Sports – Tourism Lodger Tax ” because it was to be used for a number of projects around the city labeled as “sports tourism opportunities.” The lodger tax is paid by those staying at hotels and vacation rentals in the city and by ordinance is to be used to promote tourism, not athletics facilities for general population use. Do you feel that this was appropriate?

PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT:

1.What is your position on the rewriting of the comprehensive zoning code which was an attempt to bring “clarity and predictability” to the development regulations and to attract more “private sector investment”? Critics say it has essentially “gutted” sector development plans by the development community and it has repeal all sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character.
2. Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibit city annexation of property without county approval?

EDUCATION:

1.Should the City of Albuquerque have representation or be included on the Albuquerque School board, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and the Community College of New Mexico Board?
2. What should the City do to help reduce high school dropout rates?
3. Should the City of Albuquerque advocate to the New Mexico legislature increasing funding for early child care development programs and intervention programs with increased funding from the permanent fund?
4. What education resources should or can the City make available to the Albuquerque school system?

POVERTY AND THE HOMELESS

1.What should be done to reduce the homeless population in Albuquerque?
2. What services should the City provide to the homeless and poor if any?
3. Should the City continue to support the “coming home” program?
4. Should the city be more involved with the county in providing mental health care facilities and programs?
5. The city has purchased the 530,000 square foot Gibson Medical Center for $15 Million. Should the facility be converter to one, single 24/7 homeless shelter facility for 300 or more homeless as a centralized facility or should the city use a “multi-site approach” to the city’s homelessness crisis and have a number of smaller shelters that would only house up to 50 to 75 people?

TAXATION AND PROJECT FINANCING:

1.Are you in favor of increasing the city’s current gross receipts tax or property taxes to pay for essential services and make up for lost gross receipt tax revenues caused in part by the repeal of the “hold harmless” provision and that has mandated budget and personnel cuts during the last 7 years?
2. Do you feel that all increases in gross receipts taxes should be voter approved?
3. The City has borrowed over $63 million dollars over the past two years to build “pickle ball” courts, baseball fields and the ART bus project down central by bypassing voters and using revenue bonds as the financing mechanism to pay for big capital projects. Do you feel revenue bonds is an appropriate funding mechanism for large capital projects?

OTHER ISSUES

1. What is your position on the mandatory sick leave initiative known as the “Healthy Workforce” ordinance mandating private businesses to pay sick leave to employees?
2. Should the City and the City Attorney’s office enforce the increase in the minimum wage and mandatory sick leave initiatives?
4. If you qualify to be a public finance candidate, will you truly be a public finance candidate or do you intend to rely upon measured finance committee’s set up to promote your candidacy?
5. Should major capital improvement projects such as the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project, be placed on the ballot for voter approval?
6. What is your position on the ART Bus project and should the line be dismantled and should historic Route 66 be restored to its original number of lanes and the ART Bus platforms dedicated to new uses ?
7. Should Albuquerque become a “sanctuary city” by City Council resolution or by a public vote or not at all?

CONCLUSION

The city cannot afford a mayor nor city councilors who makes promises and offers only eternal hope for better times that result in broken campaign promises. What is needed are city elected officials who actually know what they are doing, who will make the hard decisions without an eye on their next election, not make decisions only to placate their base and please only those who voted for them. What’s needed is a healthy debate on solutions and new ideas to solve our mutual problems, a debate that can happen only with a contested election. A highly contested races reveal solutions to our problems.

Voters are entitled to and should expect more from candidates than fake smiles, slick commercials, and no solutions and no ideas. Our City needs more than promises of better economic times and lower crime rates for Albuquerque and voters need to demand answers and hold elected officials accountable.
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POSTSCRIPT

CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

DEMOCRAT INCUMBENT MAYOR TIM KELLER
DEMOCRAT SHERIFF MANNY GONZALES
NICHOLAS BEVINS
PATRICK BEN SAIS

From April 17 to June 19, 2021, publicly financed candidates for Mayor must gather both 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City and the $5.00 qualifying donations. Each name and signature on the nominating petition is reviewed and compared to the voter registration rolls. If the person who has signed the petition name is not on the voter registration rolls, it is disqualified. Therefore, far more than 3,000 signatures are needed to take into account disqualified signatures. Consequently, as many signatures above the 3,000 requirement is recommended for a “buffer” in order to ensure the minimum number of nominating signatures are secured.

LATER TIMES FOR PRIVATELY FINANCE CANDIDATES FOR MAYOR

The time for privately financed candidates for Mayor to collect signatures is much later from publicly finance candidates. That time is from June 8 to August 10, 2021. Privately Finance Candidates for Mayor must also gather 3,000 signatures from registered voters within the City.

CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL

On the November ballot this year will be 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. Thus far, the candidates for City Council the November 2, 2021 municipal election are:

DISTRICT 1: Albuquerque’s Central West Side.

Incumbent City Councilor Lan Sena announced announced on April 25, she is seeking a full term after having been appointed by Mayor Keller to fill out the term of the late City Councillot Ken Sanchez.

District 3: Southwest part of Albuquerque.

Incumber City Councilor Klarissa Peña is making it known she will be seeking another term.

DISTRICT 5: Northwest part of Albuquerque

INCUMBENT CITY COUNCILOR CYNTHIA D. BORREGO is making it known she will be seeking another term.
PHILLIP RAMIREZ

DISTRICT 7: Mid-heights including uptown and parts of the near northeast heights.

Tammy Fiebelkorn
Mauro Walden-Montoya

DISTRICT 9: Far Southeast Heights and Foothills.

Andrew Lipman
BYRON K POWDRELL
ROB GILLY, JR.
RENEE GROUT

From May 31 to July 5, 2021, publicly financed 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, publicly finance candidates for City Council can collect the $5.00 donations. There are varying number of $5.00 donations for each council district.

PRIVATELY FINANCED CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL NOMINATING SIGNATURES

The time for privately financed candidates for City Council to collect signatures is from July 6 to August 10, 2021. Privately Financed Candidates for City Council must gather at least 500 signatures from registered voters within the district the candidate wishes to represent.

Saturday, April 17 was the first day that candidates for Mayor and City Council seeking public financing were allowed to start circulating nominating petitions for signatures and allowed to solicit the $5.00 qualifying donations for public financing. The commencement time for privately finance candidates to collect nominating petition signatures for Mayor is June 8 and for City Council it is July 6.

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About

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.