On November 3, the Albuquerque Journal released its poll on the job performance of Mayor Tim Keller. The poll was conducted by its long-time polling firm Research & Polling which is considered the gold standard when it comes to political polls because of its accuracy. The poll was part of the highly comprehensive polling the Journal does and reports on every election year. The 2022 general election year poll covered all the major State and Federal elections and included polling on the top issues including abortion, crime, the economy, and education.
The Journal poll asked the singular question “Do you approve or disapprove of the way Tim Keller is handling his job as Mayor?”
The results of the poll were:
MIXED FEELINGS: 21%
WOULD NOT SAY: 5%
The data breakdown of the poll was reported as follows:
32% of males approved of Keller’s job performance
44% of males disapproved of Keller’s job performance
19% of males had “mixed feeling” of Keller’s job performanc
34% of females approved of Keller’s job performance
37% of females disapproved of Keller’s job performance
22% of females had “mixed feeling” of Keller’s job performanc
39% of Hispanics polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
39% of Hispanics polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
21% of Hispanics polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
32% of Anglos polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
40% of Anglos polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
21% of Anglos polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
49% of Democrats polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
20% of Democrats polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
25% of Democrats polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
9% of Republicans polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
70% of Republicans polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
14% of Republicans polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
29% of Independents polled APPROVE of Keller’s job performance
48% of Independents polled DISAPPROVE of Keller’s job performance
20% of Independents polled expressed MIXED FEELINGS
Opinions of Keller did vary by educational levels in the poll. 45% of those with a graduate degree were most likely to approve of Keller, while 57% of those with a high school education or less disapproved of his performance.
FACTOR’S CITED FOR REASON OF DECLINE
Brian Sanderoff, the President of Research & Polling, was interviewed by the Journal and was asked to give his opinion as to the reasons why Keller has had such a sharp decline in his popularity. Sanderoff said voter concern about crime and homelessness are likely the biggest factors in the latest poll results and he said this:
“There are many government agencies and branches of government that play a role in addressing crime; however, the mayor and the city police department are front and center with the public.”
In 2021, the city had a record 114 homicides and the city had the worst per capita homicide rate in city history, surpassing even the 1990’s crime. Albuquerque is on pace to shatter its record, with 110 homicides so far this year.
In 2019, Mayor Tim Keller reacting to the spiking violent crime rates, announced 4 programs in 9 months to deal with and bring down the city’s high violent crime rates . Those APD programs are:
The Shield Unit
Declaring Violent Crime “public health” issue,
The Metro 15 Operation and
The “Violence Intervention Plan” (VIP Program).
Keller’s programs to bring down violent crime have been a failure. During each year of Mayor Tim Keller’s years in office, the city’s murder rates rose, dropped only one year, and then rose to a historical high. Following is the breakdown of homicide by year:
2017: 72 homicides
2018: 69 homicides.
2019: 82 homicides
2020: 76 homicides
2021: 117 homicides (Per capita murder rate of 20.8 per 100,000.)
2022: 110 homicides as of November 3, 2022.
The link to quoted source material is here:
Overall crime in Albuquerque also rose in 2021 for the first time since 2018. It marked the first increase in property crime since the city notched back-to-back 10% drops, pushing decreases in overall crime even as violence steadily rose over the past several years.
Homelessness has remained a persistent and pervasive challenge for Keller while city residents have expressed frustration and even anger with the city’s response to the issue. In June, the city released its government-funded satisfaction poll. 70% of those surveyed felt the City is doing a poor job of addressing homelessness, 9% of residents gave City Government positive marks for addressing the homelessness issue and 20% gave the city mixed or neutral rating. The percentage of residents who give the City positive scores for addressing homelessness had risen from 13% in 2019 to 29% in 2020 but it has now fallen by 20% and is 9% currently. The link to the full survey is here:
Since the citizen satisfaction survey Keller doubled down on his efforts to address the homeless crisis. He increased city funding to the Family and Community Services Department by over $24,353,064 going from $35,145,851 in the 2021 fiscal year to $59,498,915 in the 2022 fiscal year to provide services and housing to the homeless and he made controversial decisions intended to address the city’s homeless crisis. Those decisions included closing Coronado Park, the de facto city sanction homeless encampment Keller had encouraged and he had to close because of crime, illicit drugs and contamination, advocating for city sanctioned tent encampments known as Safe Outdoor Spaces and advocating for “Motel Conversions” where the city will purchase existing motels and convert them into low-income housing.
Safe Outdoor Spaces are organized camp sites where upwards of 50 people who are homeless can legally sleep in tents or cars while accessing showers and other amenities with as many as 18 such campsites will be allowed. The City has already approved one Safe Outdoor Space for “sex-trafficking victims” and other vulnerable populations to be located on vacant land at 1250 Menaul Blvd, NE . The approval is being appealed by at least 7 appellants.
The city is already on track to purchase the Sure Stay Hotel on Hotel Circle in the North East Heights for a motel conversion for low income housing by using Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding of $3,059,662.12 in Community Development Block Grants, $2,443,724.00 from Public Facilities monies and $615,938.12 from Foreclosure Prevention for a total property purchase of $6,119,324.24.
CONFLICTS WITH THE CITY COUNCIL
During his first term, most of Keller’s initiatives sailed through the City Council which had a 6 – 4 Democrat majority. After being elected to his second term, Keller has been at increasing odds with the city council which after the 2021 municipal election is now decidedly leans more conservative with a 5-4 Democrat majority. Less than a year into his second term, Keller has issued 8 vetoes compared to just 5 in his first four-year term.
CHRONOLOGY OF DECLINE
It was just one year ago during his campaign for a second term that Keller registered a 50% approval rating in the Journal Poll. Other Journal Polls found a majority in Albuquerque approved of Keller during his first term, including 60% in 2020 and 61% in 2018.
In 2017 then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller was elected Mayor coming in first by beating all 7 of his opponents to get into a runoff. He went on to win in 2017 by a decisive landslide against Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis who secured 37.8% with Keller winning with 62.2% of the vote.
Mayor Keller won his 2021 election to a second 4 year term with 56% of the final vote and beating Sheriff Manny Gonzales who secured 26% of the vote and Der Führer Trump Radio Shock Jock Eddy Aragon secured 18% of the vote.
MAYOR TIM KELLERS REACTION TO POLL
Mayor Keller said the results were no surprise to him given the outcome of the city’s citizen survey from earlier this year. That poll found that 52% of Albuquerque residents are concerned about the city’s direction. Keller told the Journal he, too, is frustrated with some of the city’s challenges and what he called the current “hard times.” Keller also proclaimed the city survey validated some of his major initiatives, including the forthcoming Gateway Center homeless shelter and services center.
Mayor Keller had this to say:
“At the end of the day, mayors take the heat for all of America’s problems, so that’s just part of the job. … It shows our city needs continued help from every level of government.”
Keller noted that those who approve and those who reported mixed feelings together make up 54% of those polled. He noted that the 54% is nearly equal to his performance in last year’s election and that he sees opportunity to turn those on-the-fence respondents into believers. Keller told the Journal this:
“I think there is certainly plenty of runway left.”
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
When then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller was running for Mayor in 2017, he was asked in a private conversation why he wanted to be Mayor? His answer was swift and sure and he said “Because I think it would be really neat to be Mayor of my hometown and I have done good at all the jobs I have ever held!”
Keller the eternal optimist with a smile on his face and a grin in his voice at all times no doubt believes he has done a good job as Mayor for the last 5 years. Keller can blame all the circumstances he wants for his 33% approval rating, but the blunt truth he has been a dramatic failure in dealing with the very problems he promised to solve.