On December 2, incumbents Democrats Lan Sena and Cynthia Borrego lost their reelection bids to Moderate Democrat Louis Sanchez and Republican Dan Lewis respectively. Incumbents Democrat Diane Gibson, District 7 and Republican Don Harris, District 9, decided not to seek another term. The 4 city councilors terms end on December 31 and their successors take office on January 1, 2022.
After the November 2 election, there are 4 Democrats on the new city council:
District 1 Louis Sanchez (Elected on November 2 defeating Lan Sena.)
District 2 Isaac Benton
District 3 Klarissa Peña (Ran unopposed on November 2 .)
District 6 Pat Davis
After the November 2 election, the 3 Republicans on the new city council are:
District 5 Dan Lewis (Newly elected on November 2)
District 4 Brook Bassan
District 8 Trudy Jones
The December 7 runoff elections will decide what party will have control of the city council. It will elect a new City Council President at its first meeting in January who will appoint all committee chairs. The December 7 run off in City Council District 7 is between Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn running against Republican Lori Robertson. District 7 is the Mid-heights, north of the state fairgrounds, includes Coronado Shopping Center and Uptown and surrounding areas and parts of the near northeast heights. In the District 9 City Council race, Democrat Rob Grilley is running against Republican Renee Grout. District 9 is the far SE district, bounded by Eubank on the west, Menaul on the north, Sandia Moutain foothills open space on the east and KAFB on the south and the Four Hills Country Club area.
The Republican party is making a serious attempt to secure a majority of 5-4 on the City Council, but that will require winning of the District 7 and District 9 city council races in the runoff. On November 10, the Republican Party of New Mexico and the Republican Party of Bernalillo County issued a press release announcing they are joining forces and sharing resources to win the two key runoff elections on December 7 that will decide who will control the city council. Republicans are aggressively canvassing both City Council Districts in a get out the vote effort and raising money for mailers and phone banking.
LEWIS DISRUPTIVE TO RUN FOR MAYOR EVEN BEFORE BEING SWORN IN
City Councilor elect Dan Lewis previously served two terms on the City Council from 2009 to 2017. Lewis ran unsuccessfully for Mayor against Tim Keller in 2017. Keller won the 2017 runoff by a decisive landslide by securing 60,219 votes or 62.20% against Dan Lewis who secured 36,594 or 37.8% of the vote.
Lewis told www.PeteDinelli.com after he was elected “you better believe that this mayor will be accountable now” essentially saying he intends to be as disruptive as possible over the next four years. On November 23 New Mexico Politics with Joe Monahan also reported that backers of Lewis who have spoken with him said he “will demand accountability” from the administration and shake up the council which they say “has been a joke.” Lewis has said once he becomes City Council President he will end all Zoom meetings started at the beginning of the pandemic and that he intends to aggressively question Keller’s department directors, including APD management and Mayor Keller’s representatives in person.
With a little less than 2 weeks before the December 7 runoff elections, Republicans are saying they are confident they will win the December 7 run off elections and control the city council with early voting favoring the Republican candidates. If that happens Dan Lewis is saying he will be elected the new President of the City Council. Confidential sources are also confirming that Lewis is telling supporters he is running for Mayor in 2025 and intends to do whatever he can to disrupt progressive policies put in place by Democrat Mayor Tim Keller.
Republican political operatives are also saying even if the City Council remains a 5-4 Democratic controlled council, it will be moderate Democratic City Councilor elect Louis Sanchez who will be the swing vote on the council with the most influence. Republicans believe Councilor Louis Sanchez will be more of an ally of Dan Lewis than of his Democratic colleagues on the council. Councilor elect Sanchez defeated progressive Democrat Incumbent Lan Sena who was appointed by Mayor Tim Keller to the city council and she was a reliable progressive vote for Keller.
CITY COUNCIL $110 BOND PROPOSAL
On November 2, voters approved $140 million in general obligation bonds to pay for a range of other city projects. However, voters also rejected a Gross Receipt Tax Bond (GRT) bond initiative of $50 million for the construction of a new soccer stadium. The $50 million gross receipt tax bond for the new soccer stadium had 35% who voted for it and had 65% who voted against it. City officials are now saying the funding that would have gone toward a new stadium can now be directed toward reducing crime and help address the homeless crisis.
On November 15, a $110 million bond proposal resolution was formally introduced. The resolution is scheduled to be voted on by the full city council at the next city council meeting scheduled for December 6.
The GRT City Council Bond resolution is co-sponsored by Democrat City Councilor Klarissa Peña, District 3, South West Albuquerque, and Republican Councilor Brook Bassan, District 4, North East Albuquerque. It has been reported that City Councilor Bassan consulted with Mayor Tim Keller’s administration to develop the bill and come up with final project list. It is Republican Bassan’s consultation with the Democratic Mayor that has upset Lewis and the New Mexico Republican Trump party. Sound familiar? Republicans who vote for Democratic President Joe Biden’s infra structure plan are being accused of being traitors by Der Führer Trump.
The bonds, backed by the city’s gross receipts tax revenue, are being proposed by the city council and it will not require voter approval. A “super majority” of 7 of votes on the City Council is required. Such authority is given to the city council as is the authority to enact gross receipt tax increases, property taxes and lodger tax allocations.
The Gross Receipts Tax (GRT) General Obligation bonds resolution seeks to borrow $110 million to build a upwards of 16 major infrastructure projects around the city. The project list includes more than $45 million for improving parks, open spaces, recreational facilities, a new multi-generstion center across from Cibola High School. Another $40 million will be dedicated to public safety projects, including updating the Albuquerque Police Department downtown headquarters north of city hall, the APD academy building, and other public safety facilities.
Chief Financial Officer Sanjay Bhakta said the bond debt will take upwards of 20 years to pay off starting at $5.7 million annually and eventually rising to $10 million annually until paid off.
According to the city council resolution, the $110 million GRT bond proposal includes the following projects:
Public housing, including sobering center : $25.6 million
Remodeling of the APD main building: $12.5 million
North Domingo Baca Aquatic Center: $12 million
Cibola Loop Multigenerational Center: $10 million
West Side public safety facility: $10 million
San Mateo/Kathryn public safety center: $7 million
Police department academy: $5 million
City buildings: $5 million
Southeast Area Command second phase: $4.4
Westgate Community Center: $4 million
Loma Linda Community Center: $4 million
Los Altos pump track: $3 million
West Side recreation fields: $3 million
Civic Plaza awning: $2 million
Phil Chacon Park: $1.5 million
Westside Indoor Recreation Complex: $1 million
Mayor Tim Keller voiced support for the bonding plan after his administration worked closely with City Council sponsors Pena and Basaan and said in a statement:
“This investment plan puts $110 million into addressing our city’s most pressing challenges, while continuing to lift up the civic spaces that people will enjoy for generations to come. ”
DAN LEWIS DEMANDS DELAY TO GO ALONG WITH HIS POWER PLAY
The $110 million dollar bond resolution is scheduled for a final vote on December 6 which will be the very last meeting of the year for the city council and the day before the city council December 7 runoff. The legislation will be among the final legislative actions for 4 of 9 city councilors.
Republican City Councilor Brook Bassan said the December 6 vote the day before the runoff election is intentional and explained it this way:
“I think right now is a really good time to be able to recognize the continued priorities that were in the council before we have a new turnover of the council, at which point priorities could change.”
Councilor elect and two term former City Councilor Republican Dan Lewis, who defeated current Democrat Council President Cynthia Borrego in the November 2 election said this:
“Four city councilors who would make a decision on this won’t even be here in January. … For that reason alone we need to deal with this with a new council in January.”
Republican city councilor Brook Basaan balked at the suggestion that the council vote be delayed until the new City Council is sworn in and said:
“If that were the case, terms … would end November 3 but they don’t.”
Republican Lewis is predicting that the bond package will lose on December 6 before he joins the city council, likely because he has made contact with conservative Republican City Councilors Trudy Jones and Don Harris to vote no on the bond package while Progressive’s Pat Davis and Isaac Benton are expressing reservations about the vote and a few of the projects still very much in the planning phase. Benton went so far as saying the vote “does not pass the smell test.” The 4 can block the initiative resulting in a a 5-4 vote when it needs a 7-2 vote.
The links to quoted source material are here:
NOT THE FIRST TIME FOR LEWIS
On November 3, the Albuquerque City Council passed a 5 page “memorial” on a unanimous bi partisan 9-0 vote that reestablishes the Albuquerque City Council’s commitment to bringing down the city’s spiking violent crime rates.
City Councilor Elect and former City Councilor Dan was asked to comment about the city council memorial. Lewis condemned it and said fixing our crime issues will all come down to “leadership” and he had this to say:
“We have more money than we’ve ever had before so it’s not about revenue. … It’s about good leadership and making good choices. We need to support our police officers.”
Simply put, it’s never been about the money. It’s not about supporting our police. It has everything to do with holding APD sworn police accountable for failing to do their jobs to keep the city safe and its citizens safe.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Republican operatives are rationalizing that moderate democrat City Councilor Louis Sanchez will identify more with conservative Republicans, has very little in common with progressive democrats who did not support him and that he owes Mayor Tim Keller absolutely nothing.
If the City Council remains a 5-4 Democratic Majority, the biggest test for Democrat City Councilor Louis Sanchez will be if he votes for Republican Dan Lewis to become the new Council President when the council convenes for the first time in January, 2022. Progressive Democratic City Councilor’s Isaac Benton and Pat Davis and moderate Democrat Klarissa Pena will likely all express an interested in becoming City Council President, in which case newly elect City Councilor Louis Sanchez will be casting a vote that will likely set the entire tone for his 4 years on the city council.
BACK AT IT AGAIN WITH FAILED LEADERSHIP AND NOW REVENGE
It’s down right pathetic that Dan Lewis is already believing he is the next city council president and that he intends to aggressively question Democrat Tim Keller’s department directors, including APD management and Mayor Keller’s representatives in person to hold them “accountable”. Republican Dan Lewis is the same former city councilor and former Council President who for a full 8 years looked the other way and did absolutely nothing to hold Republican Mayor Richard Berry accountable for destroying one of the finest police departments in the country and destroying historic Route 66 with the ART Bus project. Republican Lewis never once broke rank when he voted with fellow Republican Mayor, nver voted to override a Berry veto, and now decides he needs to carry out his petty political revenge on a Democrat Mayor who has been elected twice with a landslide, including 4 years ago against Dan Lewis himslef.
Simply put, Lewis is a hypocrite. Lewis takes issue with outgoing city councilors voting for a $110 million bond package a few weeks before they leave office on January 1, 2022. Lewis did something even worse as he left the city council in 2017. Just a few weeks before leaving the City Council, Lewis voted for the ABC-Z comprehensive plan pushed by Republican Mayor Berry who was know to be the darling of the construction industry and real estate development industry and who made it a top priority before he left office on January 1, 2018. The ABC-Z comprehensive plan repealed a number of historical sector development plans making it far easier for real estate developers. The ABC-Z project rewrite was nothing more than making “gentrification” official city policy and “gutted” long standing sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character for the sake of development. The number of sector development plans went from from 250 to fewer than 20.
WHAT’S AT STAKE AND THE TARGETS OF LEWIS REVENGE
The Republican party, state and county, and Albuquerque City Councilor retread extraordinaire are no doubt champing at the bit to make progressive Democrat Mayor Tim Keller life’s miserable during his second term in an effort to end his political career and restart the political career of Dan Lewis. They know full well Keller could run for higher office which will likely be Governor. Dan Lewis is returning to the city council and no matter if the council retains a Democrat majority it will be far more hostile to Keller than in 2017 when Lewis lost to Keller in a landslide. It is now apparent that Dan Lewis will be running for Mayor in 2025 which makes him the “obstructer in chief.”
Should there be a Republican takeover of the Albuquerque City Council, you can expect any number of setbacks of progressive programs and policies promoted by Keller and see advocacy of Republican policies and programs. It is likely Dan Lewis will spear head the following once sworn in for his third term:
1. Repeal of the city’s immigration friendly policy that Republicans falsely label as sanctuary city.
2. Opposition to or perhaps repeal of the city’s minimum wage ordinance.
3. Opposition to any mandatory sick leave ordinances for the private sector.
4. Oppose enforcement by Mayor Keller of emergency health care orders for the Corona Virus Pandemic, including opposing any and all-mask mandates and opposing mandatory covid vaccinations of city employees.
5. Reduction in social service programs to help the homeless and the poor, including a scaling back of the Gateway Homeless shelter operations.
6. Advocacy of late term abortion prohibitions as was placed on the 2013 municipal ballot and which failed then.
7. Opposition to the Department of Justice mandated police reforms.
8. Oppose any and all increases in the gross receipts taxes or property taxes to fund city essential services even when deficits occur.
9. Advocate the reduction in the size of city government and eliminate new departments and programs created by Mayor Keller by denying funding for such Departments as the “Office of Equity and Inclusion” that deals with immigrant relations.
10. Advocacy of increased criminal penalties as part of the city’s legislative package and bail bond reform measures.
Should there be a Republican takeover of the city council, Democrats will have only themselves to blame given that District 7 and 9 have Democrat majorities.