Eight Announce For 4 City Council Seats; Incumbent City Councilor Brook Bassan So Far Unopposed; Mayor Tim Keller Getting Involved In City Council Races Knowing Democrat 5-4 Majority At Stake 

The regular 2023 municipal election to elect city councilors for City Council Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 will be held on November 7, 2023 along with $200 Million in bonds to be approved by city voters. The City Clerk has posted on its city  web page the election calendar and information for all candidates.


The 2023 Regular Local Election Calendar for candidates began on April 30 with an “exploratory period” to allow candidates to organize and collect “seed money” donations  and  ends on June 4. The petition and qualifying contribution period begins on June 5 and ends on July 10, 2023.


Known candidates listed on the City Clerks web page as of April 5 include the following candidates listed:


  • Joaquin Baca, Democrat, a hydrologist and elected member of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District who intends to seek public financing.
  • Loretta Naranjo Lopez, Democrat, a retired city planner and current member of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association Board who intends to seek public financing.


  • Brook Bassan, Republican, a stay-at-home mom and incumbent councilor who intends to seek public financing


  • Jeff Hoehn, Democrat, a nonprofit executive director who intends to seek public financing
  • Abel Otero, Democrat, a barber who intends to seek public financing
  • Joseph Pitluck Aguirre, Independent, a dentist and software development company owner who intends to run a privately financed campaign


  • Dan Champine, Republican, a retired police officer and current mortgage lender who intends to seek public financing
  • Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Democrat, a consultant and former state representative who intends to seek public financing



As the saying goes “out with the old and in with the new”. The November 7 municipal election will remake the council and perhaps there will be a shift from the current Democrat control to a Republican controlled city council. Three of the four incumbents whose seats are on the ballot are not running for reelection and they are District 2’s Democrat Isaac Benton, District 6’s Democrat  Pat Davis and District 8’s Republican Trudy Jones. The only sitting councilor running this year is District 4’s first term Republican Brook Bassan.  The city  council’s five other seats will not be decided again until 2025 and will include the Mayor’s race.

After the 2021 municipal election, the city council went from a 6 -3 Democrat Majority with the loss of Democrat Cynthia Borrego to Republican Dan Lewis  and it  became a 5-4 Democrat majority, but the ideology split is  5 conservatives to 3 progressives and 1 moderate. The breakdown by name is as follows:


District 1 Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez
District 2 Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton
District 3 Moderate Democrat Klarissa Peña
District 6 Progressive Democrat Pat Davis
District 7 Progressive Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn


District 5 Conservative Republican Dan Lewis
District 4 Conservative Republican Brook Bassan
District 8 Conservative Republican Trudy Jones
District 9 Conservative Republican Renee Grout

Although the City Council is currently split with 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans, Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez has often allied himself with Republicans Dan Lewis, Renee Grout, Trudy Jones and Brook Bassan allowing them to approve or kill measures on a 5-4 vote but being unable to override Mayor Tim Keller’ veto’s with the required 6 votes. Sanchez has voted for the Republican sponsored repeals of Democrat sponsored legislation including the city policy mandating project labor agreements, the emergency powers given to the Mayor to deal with the pandemic and voted to repeal the ban on the use of plastic bags at businesses. Sanchez raised more than a few eyebrows in 2022 when it was reported on March 14, 2022 he had established a political action committee called the Working Together New Mexico PAC that was formed to back “moderate” Democrats in a host of contested Democratic Party primary races.

Although Republican Brook Bassan is running for a second term, she still may have conservative Republican opposition. With progressives Pat Davis and Isaac Benton’s departures at the end of the year, the balance of power could shift further to the right if their replacements are more moderate to conservative Democrats giving Keller more headaches in passing his progressive agenda.

Informed sources have said Mayor Tim Keller has already met or spoken with at least two democrats running and pledging his support to them. This is a clear indication that Keller is fully aware of the stakes in the upcoming 2023 municipal election and that he intends to take an active roll in electing city councilors who will support his agenda over the final 2 years of his second term. Keller himself has said privately he is running again for a third term for Mayor in 2025 despite his 33% approval and 40% disapproval ratings found in a November, 2022 Albuquerque Journal poll.


Anyone interested in running for City Council is encourage to contact the Albuquerque City Clerk’s office.

The links to the city clerk’s web pages are here:








On March 24, it was reported that the  Citizens Independent Salary Commission responsible for making recommendations for compensating city elected officials  voted to recommend increasing the  pay of city councilors by 87%.  If approved, city councilor pay would go from the present $33,600 to $62,843 a year.  The City Council president would get an equivalent increase going from $35,860 to $66,928 a year. The commission also voted to increase the mayor’s salary going from $132,500 to $146,081 a year.

The committee’s decision making process included a series of surveys and questioning Mayor Tim Keller and all 9 current city councilors and the public. The questionnaire sought to gauge workload, expectations and if the current salary reflected the job responsibilities and whether it might present an economic barrier for people who want to run for office.

The commission reported it wanted to ensure “fair and reasonable” pay for the city’s elected officials that accounts for their time and effort and comparing them  to peer cities.  The salary analysis included reviews of El Paso, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Tucson, Arizona.

Not all councilors responded to the survey. The 6 who did respond reported that at least 28 hours a week are needed to “adequately” fulfill their responsibilities but that their position needs full-time attention.

The public was fairly split on what elected officials should be paid. Among 182 survey respondents, 37% answered that the City Council salary should remain $33,660, but 36% thought councilors should make less and 26% said they should earn more. Wirh regards  to the mayor, 48% said the position should earn less, 34% thought it was good as it is now, and 18% felt the job deserved a higher salary.

The commission wanted to establish salaries “likely to attract competent and effective candidates to serve in public office and that enhances the opportunity for every eligible citizen to serve, regardless of their financial circumstance. …  why would someone be Mayor if they could be CAO (chief administrative officer), which pays almost double

One opinion expressed  was that the Albuquerque’s current councilor salary might prevent people from running for a seat, since the position is often too demanding to hold another job but does not pay enough to survive on.

Salary Commission Chair Kent Hickman said this when announcing the recommendations:

“The Commission considered a variety of data, including historical compensation received by the Mayor and City Councilors, comparative pay and forms of government among similar cities, the managerial complexity of elected officials’ labor, as well as changes in the cost of living and median household income.”

The Citizens Independent Salary Commission voted on the salary changes during an early March meeting. The new pay scale if approved by the City Council would take effect only after the 2023 and 2025 municipal elections meaning in 2024 for the candidates who win the council District 2, 4, 6, and 8 elections this fall and in 2026 for those who prevail in the 2025 election for Mayor and the other five council seats.

The link to the quoted news source is here:



The City Clerk has already posted on its city web page the election calendar and information for all candidates. The 2023 Regular Local Election Calendar for candidates begins on April 30 with an “exploratory period” to allow candidates to organize and collect “seed money” donations and  ends on June 4. The petition and qualifying contribution period begins on June 5 and ends on July 10, 2023.


ELIGIBILITY: In order to become a candidate, a person must be registered to vote in, and physically reside in, the district they seek to represent by August 9, 2023. Any changes to voter registration must be effective on August 9, 2023. How a name appears on ballots cannot be changed at the time of candidate filing.

NOMINATING PETTIONS: A candidate for City Council must collect 500 signatures from registered voters within the district the candidate wishes to represent. The City Clerk’s Office encourages candidates to collect more petitions signatures than required. Though signatures collected on the website will be validated as registered voters, signatures collected on paper forms will need to be verified as registered voters in the candidate’s district by the City Clerk’s Office once you submit them. Because individuals don’t always know their registration status, it’s possible that a number of the signatures you collect may not count towards the total required. A Council Candidate may collect petition signatures from 8:00am on June 5 through 5:00pm on July 10.

Candidates for City Council can be either publicly financed or privately financed.

PUBLIC FINANCING: Candidates can qualify city public financing by securing $5 qualifying donations from registered who live in the district. The public finance candidate must agree to a cap and agree that is all they can spend. Candidates are required to collect qualifying contributions from 1% of the registered voters in the district they wish to represent. The number changes based on the district a candidate is running in. City public financing can be between $40,000 to $50,000 depending on the 1% of registered voters in the District. City Council candidates may collect qualifying contributions from 8:00am on June 5 through 5:00pm on July 10.

PRIVATE FINANCING: There is no cap on what a privately finance candidate can spend on their campaigns.  A privately financed candidate may give themselves  an unlimited amount of money to spend on their campaigns. However, another individual may only donate up to a certain amount. For a City Council candidate, an individual may only donate up to $1,683.00.

MEASURE FINANCE COMMITTEE: A Measure Finance Committee is a political committee, person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure within the City of Albuquerque.  Measure Finance Committees must register with the City Clerk, regardless of the group’s registration as a PAC with another governmental entity. Measure Finance Committees must also file financial statements at the same times that candidates report. Measure Finance Committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates. However, a Measure Finance Committee that supports or opposes a measure and receives aggregate contributions in excess of 30% of the Mayor’s salary from one individual or entity, must incorporate the donor’s name into the name of the committee. For 2023 Measure Finance Committees, that threshold number is: $39,750.00.

The links to the city clerk’s web pages are 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.