County Commissioner Steven Michael Quesada Guest Column: “The Bad Politics Plaguing Bernalillo County Commission”

Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada is a life-long resident of New Mexico. Commissioner Quezada is a screen actors guild award-winning actor, producer and comedian with a long record of public service for Bernalillo County children and families.  He pursued his love of performing by studying theatre arts at Eastern New Mexico University, and has earned the distinction as one of the most charitable celebrities in New Mexico.

Commissioner Quezada has raised money for organizations such as Youth Development Incorporated and countless others. Quezada  has also worked with the gang intervention, Mi Voz and Elev8 programs through YDI, taught acting to local kids, and educated future filmmakers at the Digital Arts and Technology Academy.  He is married to Cherise Quezada, has four children, and plays golf in his spare time.

EDITOR’S DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this guest column written by Bernalillo County Commissioner Steven Michael Quezada are those of  Commissioner  Quezada and do not necessarily reflect those of the blog. Commissioner Quezada has not been paid any compensation to publish the guest column and has given his consent to publish on

“With roughly a year and a half left in my tenure as a Bernalillo County Commissioner, I feel the need to speak out, once again, against the “bad politics” plaguing the Bernalillo County Commission.  More specifically, the inclusion of Commissioner Adriann Barboa in the hiring process for the newly created position of Deputy County Manager for Behavioral Health.

During my years on the county commission, I have seen the good and the bad; appropriate decisions and those that have failed and divided this great county.  But this latest power move by Commissioner Barboa is out of line, out of touch and smacks of political patronage, a practice in which a political party, after winning an election, gives government jobs to its supporters, friends (cronyism), and relatives (nepotism).  This is not an accusation, merely an observation that is not solely my own.

 It seems that since 2016, politics has degraded into the practice of politicians forcing their political views under the guise of leadership while double-talking to save their political careers and push their misguided values.

Commissioner Barboa appears no different.  She says her knowledge and work in the behavioral health field will allow her to share institutional knowledge in the hiring process for the new Deputy County Manager.  And while she states that the final decision is not hers, the mere fact that she urged friends and acquaintances to apply and that she is privy to the selection process and applicants, gives her undue, unfair, unethical, and possibly illegal influence on the process, putting Bernalillo County in a vulnerable legal position.

The county commission hired Julie Morgas Baca as County Manager in 2015 with the simple understanding that she works for the commission, but the employees work for her.

 Commissioner’s don’t hire and fire, they develop policy to guide county government.  Among other duties, the commissioners have final authority on budget, affirm proper tax rates, issue general obligation bonds, pass ordinances and resolutions, make appointments to boards and commissions, create fire districts, and establish zoning and business regulations.

Nowhere does it state that commissioners should be involved in hiring county staff.

It’s no secret that the county commission is divided.  In the past few years the votes have been a standard 4 – 1 based on party affiliation.  More recently, the votes have digressed to a common 3 – 2 margin with commissioners Adriann Barboa, Barbara Baca, and Eric Olivas forming a majority. As for the vote to allow commissioner Barboa to sit on the selecetion committee for the new Deputy Manager, I was the only dissenting vote.

Please don’t confuse my explanation with an apology.  I am never sorry for the way I vote and always work, and vote, with the best interest of the county and all residents as my guide.

 As I serve out my final months on the commission, I will continue to vote my conscience for all who live, work, and plan their futures in this great county.  But I do encourage you to speak up against this feeble attempt at a power grab, rise up against government intrusion, and vote your conscience in the next election.

At Bernalillo County I don’t know if you can count on us but you can definitely county on me!

The link to a relevant Dinelli blog article is here:

Bernalillo County Commission To Appoint House District 25 Replacement On August 11; Democratic Party Candidate Forum On August 2 To Make Non-Binding Recommendations To County Commission; Candidate Biographies; County Commission Party Infighting Reason For Forum

New Mexico Film Industry Direct Spending Down; Writers Guild of America And SAG-AFTRA Strike Could  Be Death Blow To New Mexico’s Film Industry

On April 7, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 547 passed during the 2023 legislative that progressively increases the annual cap on film industry tax credits from $110 million to $160 million over the next 5  fiscal years. The law took effect on July 1. The law promises to stimulate further growth and employment in New Mexico’s film industry throughout the next decade, with estimates projecting the creation of thousands of jobs. New Mexico Film Office Director Amber Dodson said that the increase will prevent a backlog of rebates and that it will  foster the continued growth of film and television productions in the state.

House Bill 547 introduced adjustments that exempt resident principal performers from a $5 million credit cap per production. The ultimate goal is to incentivize the casting of local talent for leading roles. The above-the-line credit cap for New Mexico Film Partners, including Netflix, NBCUniversal, and 828 Productions, was  increased from $5 million to $15 million per production. The legislation further introduces a maximum total credit cap of $40 million per fiscal year.

Rural New Mexico will greatly benefit from the new legislation. House Bill 547 increases the rural uplift incentive from 5% to 10% and redefines the zoning to at least 60 miles from the city hall of each county. This will prove a major boon for rural communities including Doña Ana County, McKinley County, and the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

The legislation also ushers in more restrictive terms for the Nonresident Crew Exception Program (NRCE). However, New Mexico Film Partners will see added benefits. NRCE offers productions the ability to hire nonresident below-the-line crew at a reduced credit, with restrictions differing depending on the production company’s partnership with the state.


On July 18, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that New Mexico’s  film industry spent more than $794 million in the state from July 1, 2022, through June 30, 2023. The $794 million in direct spending is down from fiscal year 2022, which had a record high of $855.4 million. Over the last 3 fiscal years, film industry spending in the state was over $2.2 billion.

Though in fiscal year 2023, the direct spending for productions receiving the credit is $16.5 million, which is down from the $50 million in fiscal year 2022.

The rural uplift credit, which gives a production an extra 5% in rebates for filming at least 60 miles outside the Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor, continued to bring productions to every corner of the state.

Despite the decline in direct spending, Governor Lujan Grisham said this in a statement:

“The investments in New Mexico by the film and media industry are delivering higher wages and creating cascading positive economic impacts in communities large and small across the state. … Our continued efforts to create a thriving and robust film industry means more money in the pockets of New Mexico families and businesses.”


According to the New Mexico Film Office, the state hosted 85 productions in fiscal year 2023, down from 109 total productions in fiscal year 2022. The data released by the film office shows that median hourly wages for industry workers was $35.51 in fiscal year 2023, up from $29.36 the prior year.

New Mexico-based productions include Nickelodeon’s “The Loud House” franchise, Walt Disney Pictures’ untitled reimagining of “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day,” the upcoming Netflix series “American Primeval” and the feature “Rez Ball,” as well as second seasons of Amazon Studio’s “Outer Range” and AMC’s “Dark Winds.”

The state also saw “Better Call Saul” end its six-season run. Production for the AMC series had been steady from 2014 through 2022.  State-filmed series ABC’s “Big Sky: Deadly Trails” and The CW’s “Walker: Independence” premiered last fall, but were both canceled in their third and first season, respectively.


The New Mexico Media Academy, located in the Albuquerque Rail Yards, is scheduled to open in 2025. The academy will have a satellite campus in Las Cruces. Students at the academy will enter a competitive and growing film and television industry workforce.

Amber Dodson, New Mexico Film Office director, in statement said this:

“We are building our film, television and digital media ecosystem from the ground up, with a particular focus on staying competitive and not just being relevant but leading the way into the next frontier of how content is made. … Our best-in-class incentive, workforce, training programs, and soon, the film academy, are all essential to generating opportunity, access, and prosperity for New Mexican residents and businesses, which are the foundation of our sustainable, thriving industry.”

The link to news source reference material is here:


Prior to and despite the ongoing Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA strike, New Mexico remains a hotspot for filming as Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces were named to Movie Maker’s list of best places to live and work as a filmmaker. Currently, the industry is being impacted globally by the ongoing Writers Guild of America and  the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) strike and New Mexico is no different.

There is very little doubt that New Mexico film industry production crews, vendors and local businesses are dramatically beginning  to feel the crunch of lost revenues as film production in the state has come to a screeching halt. From all appearances, the end of the strike is nowhere in sight with the actors union SAG-AFTRA joining Writers Guild of America.


The last time the actors guild went on strike was in 1960 and  Ronald Regan was president of SAG-AFTRA. SAG’s strike ended on April 18, 1960, when the guild agreed to forego residual payments on films made prior to 1960 in exchange for receiving residuals on all films made from 1960 on as well as a one-time payment of $2.25 million from producers to form a SAG pension and health plan.

The writers’ strike, on the other hand, continued until June 12, 1960, when the WGA agreed to a groundbreaking new deal. Gains for the guild included the first residuals for theatrical motion pictures (payments of 1.2% of the license fee when features were licensed to television), an independent pension fund and industry health insurance plan, and 4% residuals for both domestic and foreign television reruns.

The link to quoted news source material is here


The issues being dealt with in the current strike are far more complicated than what happened in 1960. The entire film and production industry is now completely shut down, not only in New Mexico, but globally.  Thousands of unionized New Mexico film workers and writers are standing down in support.

The current strike will not likely be resolved any time soon and may drag on for months if not at least a full year or more. At the core of the dispute is the use of artificial intelligence and how it is used and who benefits from it. What is being fought over are words, images and creation of  original productions that can be created without consent.

Ostensibly, what is happening is that the major studios including NETFLEX and NBC which do business in New Mexico are hellbent on starving out writers and actors. Only time will tell if the strike will be a major death blow to New Mexico’s film industry.

$50 Million In Federal And City Funding For Expanding Uptown Bus Transit Center; Project To Include 400 Apartments With 200 Units Dedicated Low Income Housing; Very Bad Fit For Low Income Housing; City Should Seek Better Alternatives  

On July 6 Democratic U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Luján and President Biden’s senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu along with Mayor Tim Keller held a news news conference to announce $25 million in new federal funding that will be used in part to expand the Uptown Transit Center. The total cost of the entire development project will be at least $50 Million. The federal funding is from the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity program (RAISE) which was expanded under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.


The project has been dubbed “Uptown Connect”.  It is a public-private partnership project to reconstruct the existing bus platform on America’s Parkway, between Uptown Boulevard NE and Indian School Road NE.  The transit station is the end of the line for the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART).  According to the city, the bus route is one of the most frequent bus services used.

Senator Martin Heinrich for his part had this to say:

“This is an investment in infrastructure that we have not seen in the United States of America since the interstate highway system was created … this is what’s going to make us competitive in this very competitive world for years to come.”

Heinrich also announced  Albuquerque will also be getting $18 million from the Infrastructure Act to purchase 20 new electric buses to be added to the city’s bus fleet.

Mayor Tim Keller for his part said the total estimated price tag for the new Uptown Transit Center is about $50 million. Half of that money is from RAISE. Keller says the projects receiving these grants are supposed to be public-private partnerships. The city owns the land and the two private developers on the grant application are Family Housing Development Corp. and Palindrome Communities, the company behind the El Vado Motel redevelopment and other projects around the city.

Mayor Keller said the project is something the city has been pursuing for a while.  According to Keller, the facility being built will include transit security and staff 24/7. Keller said this:

“This is about connecting housing to public transit. It’s where you can live and access public transit all over the city. This will be literally the first example of this in New Mexico. … So right now, we do have a lot of challenges with safety because the parking lot that serves as the ART stop is just a parking lot. It’s not secure at all.”

The overall development project will have entertainment, affordable housing and retail uses.  Project developer Palindrome said it will be building 400 apartments above the transit center, as well as restaurants and retail sites. Half of the apartments will be dedicated to affordable housing and the other half will be at the fair market rental rates. The existing Nusenda Credit Union south of the bus transfer station will shift locations so that it remains next to the transit station.

As envisioned, the project is designed to make it easier for people to get to Uptown and to live in the area  by adding more housing and expanding the Uptown Transit Center. Lawrence Kline, principal project planner for the project said this:

“We work in a half-mile radius. … That’s about the average distance we think people will walk to get transit. So, within a half a mile of here, there are 13,000 jobs and only 100 people who both live and work within Uptown. So that means every day, 13,000 people are coming in from everywhere else. Why not let them live here, work here, ride the bus to UNM  or to Presbyterian?”

Construction is expected to begin in April 2025 and may be complete in 2027, according to transit department staff.  Carrie Barkhurst, a senior planner with the city’s Transit Department said this:

“Bringing people to the project and bringing retail and commercial is just going to make this area so vibrant and make it the urban center that we always wanted …  We can say we want these things, but if the market doesn’t respond, we don’t usually have that much leverage.  …  In this case, because of the federal grant to buy the property and we said we want to do this joint development, that’s what got us in the door to ask for more federal funds for this project.”,34600


On July 26, it was reported that Two Park Central Tower, 300 San Mateo NE, is being marketed as a redevelopment project for up to 115 apartment units, according to the listing. Much of the interior of what has historically been an office building has been gutted, said Todd Clarke, the broker on the sale.  Standing 10-stories tall and 101,000-square feet, the building is six miles east of Albuquerque’s Downtown and is one of Albuquerque’s tallest buildings outside of Downtown. The building  is currently at auction with a starting bid of $600,000. The listing states:

“300 San Mateo Blvd NE offers the rare and profitable redevelopment option for savvy investment, with a major income generating prospective. …This multifaceted, (income-generating) project is in the prime northeast region of the city, currently a strong demand area of the city that needs 16,268 additional multi-family rental units and is experiencing phenomenal rent growth.” 

The building is being brought to market by Ten-X. Todd Clarke, a broker said much of the interior of what has historically been an office building has been gutted. Clarke said this:

“I think that’s really its highest and best use. … We’ve got a housing shortage of about 13,000 rental units and we’re seeing rents go through the roof.”

The link to quoted news source material is here:


In the Albuquerque metro area, new permits for apartment building and actual construction has spiked dramatically. Building permits for a total of 4,021 new housing units were issued in the metro area in 2021, 35.1% of which are for units in buildings with five units or more.  In Albuquerque, about 2,000 units across 12 properties are  under construction, with an additional 2,485 units planned across 16 properties and 5,143 prospective units.

Five years ago only 20.3% of all permits for new housing units were for buildings with at least five units. The 14.8% point change for new apartment construction from 2016 to 2021 ranks as the 10th largest increase among all U.S. metro areas.

Alan LeSeck, Apartment Association of New Mexico executive director, told the Albuquerque Journal the market is “very hot,” due partially to the lack of apartment development dating back to before the pandemic.  Since 2013, and prior to 2020, LaSeck said Albuquerque was averaging about 500 new units a year, below what the city needed to accommodate new residents.  LaSeck said that, for every 10,000 new residents, there needs to be about 3,400 apartments since about 34% of people typically rent.  According to RentCafe, in Albuquerque, the average apartment is rented for $1,170 per month.

According to the February Greater Albuquerque Association of Realtors report, home prices in Albuquerque continue to reach record highs, with the current median home value sitting at $315,000, up by 18.9% compared to a year prior. This has resulted in prospective homeowners being pushed out of the housing market, resulting in a demand for more rental and apartment unit construction. The increase in home prices has meant that some purchasers are simply priced out of the market.  There are those who have sold their homes only to be unable to purchase another home due to increasing costs or a lack of availability. These former and would-be home-owners are then pushed into the rental market, increasing the occupancy rate and affecting rents.

Titan Development is among the leaders of multi-family development. Titan is currently working on 3 multi-family developments totaling more than 500 units. It is also working on the largest multi-family development in construction with the 281-unit Allaso High Desert apartments at San Antonio and Tennyson Street. Some of Titan’s new developments, such as the Allaso Vineyards at Holly and Ventura, target an aging demographic that may be looking for a new place to live with less maintenance than a single family home.

Among the larger developments is Overture Andalucia, a new multi-family complex on Albuquerque’s West Side aimed at adults 55 and older. The 171-unit complex, owned by the property investment, development and management company Greystar,  was  set to have units ready by  fall.

Uptown has become one of the economic and entertainment centers of the city. It has grown from 2 modest malls of Coronado and Windrock shopping centers  into a financial district  with the highest concentration of retail establishments in the state. An abundance of shopping and dining venues characterize the area as  nucleus of commerce. In response to  people looking for an urban experience without transportation headaches, two major apartment projects are fully underway in the uptown area.

Goodman Realty is  moving forward with construction on multi-family housing  for the first time since the ’80s.  Goodman Realty is planning to build Lofts at Winrock in Albuquerque’s Uptown area. Although referred to as the “Lofts” project, renderings show developers are  planning to call the apartment development “The Pine Needle.” Three buildings comprise the entire development, one of which will be used for townhomes. Plans show the apartment complex will have four floors of upscale apartments. At least one of the buildings will have a large courtyard.

The increased demand for apartments has led Goodman Realty  to look at other areas to pursue multi-family development, such as near the Journal Center. Scott Goodman said multi-family housing could be particularly attractive to developers since it is seen as a less risky investment and it is also easier to finance. More development, he said, could also lead to lower rental costs and help with the affordability problem. Goodman put it this way:

“We’re looking at doing more apartments.  … Apartment rents have really skyrocketed, apartment construction costs have really skyrocketed, and I think that the supply of apartments is really going down, and that’s part of the reason you’re seeing what we’re seeing … and the city needs more apartments. … The more apartments we have, the more supply we have, the more affordable it should be.”

The 243 unit, six story Markana apartment complex is under construction and is  scheduled to be completed in  2023. It is located at 6500 Americas Pky, NE, South of Coronado shopping center, West of the Marriott and immediately North of the Hilton Garden Inn and West of the  Bucca De Beppo restaurant. It will have studio apartments and 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments ranging from 589 square feet to 1,226 square feet.

Construction of the Element by Weston in the uptown area  merits mentioning.  It is a 120-room, 86,335-square-foot hotel  that is currently under construction located at 2430 Louisiana Blvd. NE, directly East of Coronado Shopping Center.

The links to quoted news sources are here:


 The uptown area  where Uptown Connect will be developed already has a number of apartment complexes.

 The Uptown Park apartments, formerly known as the Landmark Apartments, are studio and 1 and two-bedroom apartments located at 6200 Indian School Rd NE that were built around 1965.

The Warren Park Apartments located at 6230 Indian School and directly East of the Uptown Park Apartment were also built around 1965.

Around the year 2000, the 4 story Woodmark Assisted Living complex located at 7201 Prospect Place  NE was opened and provides extensive home care facilities.

ABQ Uptown Apartments were built in 2008 and located at 2222 Uptown Loop, NE, North of Indian School and East of Louisiana. It has rental units of studio apartments and 1,2, 3-bedroom apartments ranging from 603-1,671 square feet. The ABQ Uptown Apartment Complex consists of a number of separate 3 story buildings.


The Uptown Connect with the development of 400 apartment units in the uptown area is coming at a time when there is a construction boom of apartments in the Uptown area. It will complement the 243 unit, six story Markana apartment complex as well as Goodman Realty construction of the Lofts at Winrock  in Albuquerque’s Uptown area which will consist of apartments and upscale condominiums.

Home builders serving the Albuquerque area estimate the cost to build residents in Albuquerque is between $175 to $275 per square foot. In other words, to build a small 1,000 square foot home will cost between $175,000 (1,000 square feet X $175)  $275,000 and (1,000 X $275), not including land acquistion, depending on custom design and materials used.  It’s a cost that equally applies to apartment complexes. City officials have said it would cost between $20 and $25 million dollars to build a new 100-unit apartment complex  which is the reason for the city relying on acquiring existing motels and  remodeling them for affordable housing.

Many developers and investors will no doubt believe that dedicating 200 of the 400 apartments of the Uptown Connect project to low-income housing is filled with good intentions but  not based in market reality. The blunt truth is that the final cost of building a 400-apartment complex on some of the most expensive commercial property in the city will be upwards of $75 Million if not more in construction costs, even though it is city owned property.

Like it or not the apartment developers and managers are in the business of making money.  High end developments such as the Markana developers and the Lofts at Winrock developers will likely frown on the city’s efforts for low-income housing essentially adjacent to their own multimillion projects.  Dedicating half of Uptown Connect to low-income housing is not the highest and best use of city resources given the other residential developments in the area. The market forces will likely have a major impact and sooner rather than later developers and investors will want the entire project to consist of fair market housing as profits become a major factor.

The city would be wise to look elsewhere to build low-income housing on city owned property.  The Keller Administration should seek with acquisitions of existing vacant commercial property for conversion into low income housing such as the acquisition of the  10-story “Two Park Central Tower.”

Bernalillo County Commission To Appoint House District 25 Replacement On August 11; Democratic Party Candidate Forum On August 2 To Make Non-Binding Recommendations To County Commission; Candidate Biographies; County Commission Party Infighting Reason For Forum

On June 7, New Mexico State Representative Christine Trujillo announced her  resignation from the New Mexico House of Representatives effective July 1. She said she decided to resign because of health issues, citing accelerating problems with Type-2 diabetes.  Trujillo was first elected in 2012 to serve District 25 which covers the mid heights and some of Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights area. Her term expires on December 31, 2024.  It is now the responsibility of the Bernalillo County Commission to appoint her replacement to complete the 1 year and 6 months remainder of her term. Whoever is appointed will have to stand for election to a full 2 year term in 2024.


On June 30, 2023 the Bernalillo County Commission announced it is accepting applications from individuals interested in filling the vacant New Mexico House of Representatives District 25 seat.   According to the announcement applications will be accepted until Friday, July 28, 2023, at noon.

Applicants must submit a letter of interest and résumé to the Bernalillo County Manager’s Office, Attention: Julie Morgas Baca, County Manager, 415 Silver Ave, SW, 8th Floor, Albuquerque, NM, 87102 via in-person, mail-in, or email to:  Interested persons must be at least 21 years old and live within the boundaries of House District 25.  The district straddles central I-40, mainly in the Northeast Heights, including neighborhoods between Carlisle and Louisiana in Bernalillo County.

The Bernalillo County  Commission  will appoint a replacement from a list of applied candidates at their Friday, August 11 meeting at 10 am. The meeting will take place in the Ken Sanchez Commission Chambers at BernCo @ Alvarado Square, 415 Silver Ave SW.  The replacement will serve the rest of the term ending on December 31, 2024. The winner of the November 2024 election will then serve a full term starting January 1, 2024.


Sources have confirmed that there are 3 applicants for the vacancy and they are:

  • Cristina Parajón
  • Robert Padilla
  • Sofia Sanchez

EDITORS’ NOTE: The postscript to this blog article provides the biographies of all 3 identified candidates.


On July 25  it was reported that the House District 25 Ward and Precinct leadership of Wards 25A, 25B, 25C, and 25D  will hold a moderated, in-person candidate forum on August 2 where all 3 of the  Democratic candidates will be allowed to participate in a candidate forum.  Only Democrats in House District 25 can register for the event and to vote in a non-binding election that establishes a preferred candidate. Democrat voters will rank the candidates according to their preferences. The Democratic Party of Bernalillo County (DPBC)  will then deliver the full voting results to the Bernalillo County Commissioners.  The final results are strictly a recommendation and in no way is binding upon the Bernalillo County Commission.

The Candidate Forum will be held at AFT New Mexico (530 Jefferson St. NE) on Wednesday, August 2, 2023, at 6:00 pm. Only Democrats in House District 25 can register to attend and vote. While attendance is not required to vote, it is highly encouraged.  DPBC will tally the votes on Monday, August 2, and deliver the results to the Board of Commissioners the next day.


Sources have confirmed that the  reason why there will be a candidate forum on August 2 held by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party  is because of just how messy and divisive the last appointment was. As a result of that  conflict, many Democratic party officials’ believe there is a need for the party to be involved with the selection process  and to at least voice their opinions and not give exclusive authority to appoint to  3 elected officials who hold the majority on the County Commission.

It was on November 16 that longtime Westside Albuquerque Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas was appointed by the County Commission to serve the remaining 2 years in the New Mexico Senate caused by the resignation of Senator Jacob Candelaria on October 19.  Maestas, who represented a Westside seat for 16 years, immediately announced his interest in Candelaria’s seat, and Candelaria threw his support behind him.  Two commissioners immediately raised concerns about Maestas and whether Candelaria’s seat should  be filled before others had a chance to apply for the seat.

Another commissioner countered that delaying the vote would deprive the area of a representative for too long. Candelaria, in posts on Twitter, also said extending the timeline was a “Mitch McConnell-style tactic” aimed at stalling the appointment until a new commission is seated in early January, one that might be less favorable to Maestas.

Commissioner Debbie O’Malley, who pushed for postponing the  Maestas appointment raised concerns  about Maestas’ wife, lobbyist Vanessa Alarid, and a $5,000 donation she gave to a commissioner who ultimately voted for Maestas, Charlene Pyskoty. O’Malley said the donation was a way to buy Pyskoty’s vote, and O’Malley unsuccessfully tried to get Pyskoty to recuse herself and also to pause the appointment vote until after an ethics complaint regarding the matter was  heard on Dec. 3.

Pyskoty denied any wrongdoing and said she wasn’t giving Maestas any special treatment. She also said that his spouse’s position as a lobbyist should have no bearing on the appointment before them.

Pyskoty and O’Malley disagreed sharply on the matter before. The last time the topic came up at the commission’s Oct. 25 meeting, O’Malley called Pyskoty a slur.  O’Malley apologized to Pyskoty for use of the slur, but she also proceeded to make the unsavory accusation that there  was a “scheme” a year in the making to get Maestas a Senate seat.

O’Malley said during the commission meeting that Maestas had tried to use redistricting at the county and state level to ensure he had an easy path to Candelaria’s seat, and she accused him of depriving constituents the chance to weigh in on their next senator.

Maestas for his part denied that he’d “schemed” to get the appointment. He said he learned along with the rest of the public that Candelaria was going to resign. Maestas said O’Malley was  accusing him of the same tactics she’s employed in her political career as a commissioner and Albuquerque city councilor.

Maestas and 7 other applicants sought to be appointed senator. They included Julie Radoslovich, director of the South Valley Academy, along with retired county commissioner and former Albuquerque City Councilor Steve Gallegos, and Em Ward, a doctor.

Radoslovich got two votes in favor of her appointment, the most of any other applicant. O’Malley and Chairperson Adriann Barboa voted for her.  About a dozen supporters stood up to speak in her favor, including former students and colleagues.

County Commissioner Quezada, who attended the meeting remotely, nominated Maestas for the seat.  Before Quezada voted, he accused O’Malley of throwing out a “half-baked” theory about Maestas without evidence.  Quezada said this:

“To put conspiracy theories forward sounds a lot like MAGA [Make America Great Again] to me. But at the end of the day – yeah, you can roll your eyes,  (apparently seeing O’Malley’s reaction on the video stream).  That’s okay. The whole world saw that. But that’s the truth. You have no facts to base your conspiracy theories. I think this wasn’t a place to have that conversation.”

Minutes earlier, Quezada  suggested that Barboa, herself a registered lobbyist, might be conspiring to appoint a state lawmaker that she could lobby when the legislative session begins in January. Quezada said this:

“If there’s a commissioner that’s a registered lobbyist that is herself or himself, appointing legislators or appointed officials, perhaps maybe that also could be looked at as a conflict of interest. … And I’m hoping that the news media will also look into that.”

Barboa for her part defended her lobbying as being on behalf of reproductive rights and affordable health care. She has lobbied for Forward Together since 2013, according to the Openness Project.

Ultimately,  3 commissioners  voted for Maestas. They were Democrats  Charlene Pyskoty, and Steven Michael Quezada and Republican Walt Benson.

County Commissioners Debbie O’Malley and Charlene Pyskoty are no longer on the Bernalillo County Commission and were replaced by County Commissioners Barbara Baca and Eric Olivas.

As a direct result of the extreme hostility and very public outburst involving the appointment of  Senator Moe Maestas,  the new  County Commission voted to clean up the appointment process to  avoid the  acrimony. Now, the commission chair is required to set a special meeting to name an appointment within 3 weeks of receiving a resignation letter from a lawmaker leaving a seat.


The current makeup of the current Bernalillo County Commission is as follows:

District 1: Progressive Democrat Barbara Baca, Commission Chair

District 2:  Moderate Democrat Steven Michael Quezada

District 3: Progressive Democrat Adriann Barboa

Disrtrict 4:  Conservative Republican Walt Benson 

District 5: Progressive Democrat  Eric Olivas

The legal and constitutional process of filling vacancies in the New Mexico legislature caused by early the departure of a legislator has always rested with the county commission where the legislators district is located.  On paper, it is pretty straight forward process.  There are 5 county commissioners and the  applicant who  secures a 3 vote majority wins, period, end of discussion.

EDITOR’S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, Pete Dinelli considered applying for the vacancy but decided against it preferring to continue with retirement and publication of as a Democrat activist and having other priorities in life without political drama.

In practice, the process of filling a legislative vacancy is always a very messy process, especially when there are philosophical rifts within the same party that has the majority of the votes on the commission. Such is the current makeup of the Bernalillo County Commission which is comprised of 4 Democrats and 1 Republican.

The current politcal conflict an rift  is that the 3 Progressive Democrats of Barbara Baca, Adriane Barboa and Eric Olivas have the majority over Moderate Democrat Stephen Michael Quesada and Conservative Republican Walt Benson.  It will be the progressive majority of Commissioners Baca, Barboa and Olivas who will decide to fill the vacancy giving very little or no consideration to what is said by the other two commissioners. Such is the reality of politics.

It has been confirmed by sources that the desires of the county commissioners whose district the vacancy falls within, which in this case is both Baroboa and Olivas, will be given greater consideration and relied upon. It’s called politics with a touch of retaliation thrown in for good measure sending the message as to who is in charge now that Commissioners Debbie O’malley and Charlene Pyskoty are gone and that the  3 like minded progressives have majority control of the commission.


The blunt truth is that the August 2 forum to be  held by the Bernalillo County Democratic Party is strictly advisory.  The individual County Commissioners can and will vote for whoever they want regardless of recommendation made by the party.

All 5 county commissioners are strictly prohibited by law from attending the August 2 Democrat forum all at once because it would constitute a quorum. Notwithstanding, sources are confirming that at least 2 County Commissioners are planning on attending the meeting which will allow only Democrats to attend.  There is the appearance of impropriety  if they do attend and their  presence means that they will be lobbied by the candidates themselves or the Democrat attending who will want to know how they intend to vote. How they say they will vote should be a matter of public record of  conducting business at a commission meeting, It’s more likely than not all 5 commissioners will have already made up their minds who they intend to vote for before their August 11 meeting.

The August 2 meeting is closed to the public and only Democrats will be allowed to vote which is totally appropriate for a Democratic Party function.  However what is disappointing is that the Bernalillo County Democratic Party is making  no accommodations for neighborhood association participation nor other private citizens to attend who may want to merely listen to the candidates and not vote.

The bottom line is that not one Bernalillo County Commissioner should attend the August 2 Democratic Party forum.  The Bernalillo County Commission should hold a special meeting of the county commission, all day if needed, where all applicants are given an equal opportunity to speak and be  interviewed and questioned in public by all 5 county commissioners during  a public meeting with a record of the proceedings and what is said. The county commission should also allow testimony from the public, including from Democrats, Republicans and Independents and make public all communications and lobbying efforts on behalf of individual candidates. It’s called transparency in the public interest to avoid back room politics of pre selection of appointments.




On July 25, the Bernalillo County Democratic Party published and distributed on its “BLUE REVIEW” news letter the following candidate biographies in their own words:


¡Buenos días! My name is Cristina Parajón and I am applying to serve as representative of House District 25. I am Gen-Z, Latina and Asian, and a member of the LGBTQ community.Born in Albuquerque, I attended Harvard University on full scholarship to study Sociology and I completed my Masters in Business and Economics as a fellowship recipient. Afterwards, I worked at one of the top financial management consulting firms in the world advising CEOs of fortune 500 companies. My deep-rooted commitment to my family and my community led me back to Albuquerque.

As the oldest daughter of public health doctors, I was raised with a strong sense of civic duty –to build policy not “for” or “on” but WITH community. I lead with the values of my family, listening first and acting with conviction. I have been entrusted with our City’s biggest projects and have direct experience working on our toughest issues.

 I was Deputy Incident Commander of the largest COVID Isolation Hotel in the state, became project lead for the Gateway Center (the City’s multi-million dollar investment in new pathways out of homelessness), and was recognized by Albuquerque Business First 40 under 40 for my work. Today, I am the Director of Strategy for the New Mexico Human Services Department.

 Having grown up in the area, I know the challenges we face in our neighborhoods. However, I also have seen the power of our community in creating solutions. We can make sure every family can be strong and healthy; we can ensure hard-working New Mexicans have a place to call home; and we can make smart infrastructure investments that improve community safety and support economic opportunities for our young people.

Si se puede and it is the role of the legislature to provide the resources and policies for our dedicated community leaders on the ground. I know this first-hand and I am committed to listening with humility and acting with conviction. Let me bring my boots on the ground experience to the legislature and work WITH you in the House!


I am writing to express my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to submit my application for the open position in the New Mexico State Legislature representing District 25. As a lifelong resident of Albuquerque, Bernalillo County, and the State of New Mexico, I am deeply committed to the betterment of our community that I raised my family in.

Enclosed with this letter, you will find my resume, showcasing my extensive experience as an executive-level manager in the New Mexico State Court System and my educational background from the University of New Mexico. This combination of professional expertise and educational qualifications has allowed me to work closely with educational institutions throughout the state, providing me with a unique and valuable skill set.

 I hold a profound appreciation for the rich historical nature of our state and firmly believe that our best days are still ahead of us. I have an unwavering belief in the potential of our community, and if appointed to the open state representative position, I will be dedicated to advocating policies that strengthen New Mexico, a state we can all be proud of.

 One of my key priorities will be ensuring the effective use of the citizens’ tax dollars, fostering a robust local and regional economy that benefits all New Mexicans. I will strongly advocate for investments in education, public safety, and healthcare, laying the foundation for a successful and sustainable future. Additionally, I believe in nurturing and enhancing the values of character, respect, and commitment, as they are essential in creating the kind of thriving community we desire.

 I firmly believe that by working together in a mutually respectful business, political, and social environment, we can provide the greatest gift of leadership to the citizens of our state. It would be an immense honor for me to be given the opportunity to serve as one of those leaders. Thank you once again for considering my application. I am available at your convenience for any further discussions or to provide any additional information you may require. I look forward to the possibility of serving our community as a state representative.


Sofia Sanchez is a 13th-generation New Mexican and seasoned public servant, born and raised in HD 25 by a family of labor workers and public servants. She currently resides in the district in the house she bought from her grandparents with her family and 4 dogs.

 With a rich background in public service and a deep commitment to her community, Sofia has dedicated her career to working on behalf of the people of New Mexico. From her early years in the City of Albuquerque Mayor’s Office, Sofia gained invaluable experience in coordinating volunteer efforts and supporting community engagement.

 Sofia then transitioned to the legislative branch to have a greater impact on policy making as Deputy District Director in Rep. Deb Haaland’s office. Currently, Sofia serves as the Deputy Chief of Staff & District Director for Rep. Melanie Stansbury, working tirelessly to craft legislation that addresses the pressing issues of our time.

Her platform centers around supporting working people, investing in our educational system, environmental stewardship, and social justice. She plans to incorporate her professional experiences to build on the existing work to strengthen our behavioral health infrastructure and create stronger gun safety laws. She remains a steadfast advocate for women and their right to make their own healthcare decisions, and will stand with the LGBTQIA community and their priorities. Sofia seeks to amplify the voices of her community and champion policies that uplift every resident of District 25.

 She has the endorsement of outgoing State Representative for House District 25 Christine Trujillo.

City And APD Union Announce New 2 Year Contract; 5% And 4% Hourly Pay Raises Over 2 years; Follows 13% Pay Raises Over Previous Two Years; 22% Pay Raises Over 4 Years; $34,380 Yearly Incentive Pay And Longevity Pay Added; APD Performance Measures Decline

On July, 14 2023, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration City announced that it has negotiated a new, two-year contract with the Albuquerque Police Officers Association.  Under the new 2 year contract, APD police officers are being paid a 5% pay increase for the budget year that started on July 1 and goes through June 31, 2024. Hourly pay will again increase 4% for the next budget year that starts on July 1, 2024 and ends June 31, 2025. The contract will now be sent to the City Council for approval.

The Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office had surpassed the Albuquerque Police Department’s pay scale in June, giving first class deputies a 17% raise, or $35.72 an hour.  With the new contract, when APD first class officers get their second raise they will be making $35.91 an hour.

In addition to announcing the negotiated 2 year contract with the police union, the Keller Administration announced pay increases for Police Service Aids and APD Academy Cadets.


The next Public Service Aide (PSA) class starts July 31. APD currently has 47 Police Service Aides, the highest the department has ever employed. According to department officials, more PSA’s are taking on roles like taking reports for minor traffic crashes and blocking streets during investigations so sworn officers can respond to higher-priority incidents. The PSA program also serves as a pipeline of future officers to join the the department. PSA’s  hourly pay will go up from $15.43 to $16.20 an hour.


The APD police cadet class that started the Police Academy on July 17 are being paid $28.84 an hour or $60,000 annually, a 37% pay increase.


Under the signed 2023 negotiated police union contract approved by union members, the negotiated yearly and hourly pay increases are as follows:

Patrolmen 2nd Class who have been on the force one full year will be paid $30.28 an hour or $63,000 a year, a 31% pay increase.


In the 2023 fiscal year that began July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024,   2 to 4 year service pay goes from  $68,411.20 yearly pay, or $32.89 hourly,  to $71,831.55  yearly pay, or $34.53 an hour. (5% total yearly pay raise of $3,420.56 + $68,411 yearly base pay = $71,831 ÷ 2,080 yearly working hours = $34.53 hourly).

In the 2024 fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2024 and ends June 30, 2025,  2 to 4 year service pay will go from $71,831 yearly pay, or $34.53 an  hour to  $74,704.24 or $35.91 an hour (4% total yearly pay raise of $2,873.24 + $71,831 yearly pay ÷ 2,080 yearly working hours = $35.91 hourly.)


In the 2023 fiscal year that began July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024,   5 to 14 year service pay goes  from  $70,761 pay a year or $34.02 hourly to $74,299 or $35.72  an hour. (5% total yearly pay raise of 3,538 + $70,761 yearly pay = 74,299.05 yearly pay ÷  2,080 yearly working hours = $35.72 hourly pay)

In the 2024 fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2024 and ends June 30, 2025,  5 to 14 year service pay goes  from  $74,299.05  pay a year  or $35.72 hourly pay  to  $77,271.01  pay a year or $37.14 an hour (4% total yearly pay raise of  $2, 971.96  +  $74,299.05 yearly pay  = $77,271.01 yearly pay or $37.18  hourly.)


In the 2023 fiscal year that began July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024, 15 or more years of service  pay goes from $74, 297 pay a year or $35.72 an hour  to $78,011.85 pay a year or $37.50 an hour. (5% total pay raise of  $3,714.85 +  $74,297 yearly pay = $78,011.85 yearly pay  ÷ 2,080 yearly working hours = $37.50 hourly pay.)

In the 2024 fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2024 and ends June 30, 2025,  15 or more years’ service  pay  goes from  $78,011.85 a year pay or $37.50 an hour to $81,132 a year pay or $39.00 an hour.  (4% yearly pay raise of 3,120.47 +  $78,011.85 pay a year = $81,132 pay a year ÷ 2,080 yearly working hours or  $39.00  hourly pay.)

EDITOR’S NOTEAlthough APD Sergeants and Lieutenants are management, they are still allowed to be in the police union which is a likely violation of State law that prohibits management from joining unions but the city allows the practice.. Approximately 20 years ago, APD Captains, now classified as Commanders, were allow to be in the police union, but were removed from the collective bargaining unit.


In the 2023 fiscal year that began July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024, Sergeant pay goes from $82,533 a year, or $39.69 hourly pay to $86,659.65 a year or $41.66 an hour. (5% total pay raise of $4,126,55 + 82,533 a year = $86,659.65 ÷ 2,080 yearly working hours = $41.66 hourly pay.)

In the 2024 fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2024 and ends June 30, 2025,  Sergeant pay goes from$86,659.65  a year or $41.66 an hour to $90,126.04 a year or $43.33 an hour. (4% total pay raise of  $3,466.38 +  $86,659.65 = $90,126.04 ÷ 2080 = $43.33 hourly pay.)


In the 2023 fiscal year that began July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024,  Lieutenant pay goes from  $94,348 yearly or $45.36 hourly to  $99,065.40 or $47.63 an hour. (5% total pay raise of + $4,717.40 + $94,348 = $99,065 ÷ 2, 080 yearly working hours = $47.63 hourly pay.)

In the 2024 fiscal year that will begin on July 1, 2024 and ends June 30, 2025, Lieutenant pay  goes from $99,065 yearly pay or $47.63 an hour to  $103,027 a year pay or $49.53 an hour. (4% total pay raise of $3,962.60 = $99,065 yearly pay = $103,027 a year pay ÷ 2, 080 yearly working hours = $49.53 hourly pay. )


APD’s Lateral Class that started May 22 has 14 officers who have experience with other police agencies. The class is the largest in four years when APD experienced a boost of transfers due to higher salaries. Laterals with 2 years of experience will receive a pay increase from $63,065.60 a year or $30.32 an hour to $66,331.20 a year or $31.89 an hour.


Mayor Tim Keller had this to say about the new contract:

“Fighting crime continues to be our top priority. That means we have to support the officers we have and work to expand the department.  Our investments are paying off with more people signing up to join the force and more officers choosing stay with APD.”

APD Chief Harold Medina had this to say in a statement about the pay increases:

“Mayor Keller’s investment in our police officers puts us in a great position as we work to recruit new officers and keep the hard-working officers who are putting in the hard work every day to keep Albuquerque safe. … This 5% raise with another 4% next year sends a strong message that we support our officers. They deserve all the support we can give them.”

Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque police union, said this:

“[Officers were] overwhelmingly in favor. … Only five, out of hundreds, voting against it. … I think that we’ve made some major strides. I think we have a lot of work ahead of us to do but the rank and file are happy about the contract and we’re waiting for it to go through the process so it can start to reflect in their paycheck.”

Links to quoted news sources are here:

13% PAY RAISES FROM 2022 to 2023

On February 4, 2022 it was reported that the Keller’s administration had negotiated a new police union contract making APD the best paid law enforcement agency in the region by increasing hourly wages and longevity pay and creating a whole new category of “incentive pay”. All of APD sworn police officers are members of the police union, including patrol officers, sergeants and lieutenants. All of APD sworn police were given combined pay increases of 13% under a two-year contract.

Under the 2022 signed union contract, APD’s starting wages were well above cities and law enforcement agencies of comparable size including Tucson, Arizona, $54,517, and El Paso, Texas, $47,011. Under the 2022 contract terms, longevity pay increased by 5% starting at $2,730 per year with those who have 5 years of service and with incremental service years up to 17 years or more who will be paid $16,380.

Under the union contract, sworn police are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half of their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek. Time worked over 40 hours per week is compensated at time and a half of the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of “compensatory time.” There is no contract provision placing a cap on the amount of overtime any officer can be paid.

The 2022-2023 proposed budget also  included $13 million for a city-wide 2% cost-of-living increase. Buried in the 2022-2023 budget is the fact that the city hall workforce excluding APD sworn police, is approximately 5,916 (6,916 total workforce – 1,100 sworn) who will be given a mere 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) but subject to union negotiations.


In addition to their hourly pay,  APD sworn police officers are paid “longevity pay”.  APD sworn qualify for longevity pay in their fifth year of service. Under the police union contract terms, longevity pay starts at $2,730 per year and increases topping of at $16,380 annually for those who have served 17 or more years. The  longevity pay scale bi-weekly annual amounts are as follows:

Beginning Year 5 through 5, $105 paid bi weekly, $2,730 annually
Beginning Year 6 through 6, $131 paid bi weekly, $3,406 annually
Beginning Year 7 through 9, $236 paid bi weekly, $6,136 annually
Beginning Year 10 through 12, $315 paid bi weekly, $8,190 annually
Beginning Year 13 through 15, $368 paid bi weekly, $9,568 annually
Beginning Year 16 through 17, $473 paid bi weekly, $12,298 annually
Beginning Year 18 and above, $630 paid bi weekly, $16,380 annually


APD started a new retention package in October 2022 that provided incentives for experienced officers who might otherwise consider retiring. As a result, there have been only  18 retirements during the subsequent  8-month period. APD matched national trends in retirements prior to this year. In 2021, 97 officers retired and in 2022, 50 officers retired. The retention package provides officers who meet qualifications with an additional $1,500 dollars at the end of each month, and 10% of their medical is paid for by the city.

It was on October 7, 2022  APD Chief Harold Medina  announced retention  pay  bonuses for  police officers who have been on the force 19 years or more,  and who are eligible for retirement.  They are  paid as  much as $18,000 more per year, or $1,500 more a month.   In addition, the department pays 100% of the officers’ medical benefits.  In addition to $18,000 more a year in incentive pay to 19  year  veterans, police officers with 18 years or more of police service are paid  $16,380 annual longevity pay resulting in a combined  $34,380 of incentive pay and longevity pay in one year


Under the union contract, sworn police are entitled to overtime compensation at the rate of time-and-one-half of their regular straight-time rate when they perform work in excess of forty (40) hours in any one workweek. Time worked over 40 hours per week is compensated at time and a half of the officer’s regular rate of pay, or in the form of “compensatory time.” There is no contract provision placing a cap on the amount of overtime any officer can be paid. Compensatory time is the award of hours as already worked to be paid and is calculated at the rate of 1-1/2 times the hours actually worked. The maximum accrual of comp time for any officer is 150 hours.

During the last 11 years, the Albuquerque Police Department has consistently gone over its overtime budgets by millions. As examples, in fiscal year 2016, APD was funded for $9 million for over time but APD actually spent $13 million. A March, 2017 city internal audit of APD’s overtime spending found police officers “gaming the system” that allows them to accumulate excessive overtime at the expense of other city departments. A city internal audit report released in March, 2017 revealed that the Albuquerque Police Department spent over $3.9 million over its $9 million “overtime” budget.


At the end of each calendar year, City Hall releases the top 250 wage earners based on hourly wages paid. The list of 250 top city hall wages earners is what is paid for the full calendar year of January 1, to December 31 of any given year.  The City of Albuquerque has 26 separate departments and it employs upwards of 6,000 full time employees.  In 2022, APD averaged employing 856 full time

In 2022, the breakdown of the 250 top paid city hall employees reveals they were paid between $124,540.80 to  $235,992.53.   Of the top 250 top paid city hall employees, 143 of the top paid 250 wage earners employed included Patrol Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers, Master Police Officers, Sergeants and Lui tenants. Lieutenants, although management, are allowed to be members of the Police Union and are entitled to be paid time and a half for overtime.  The excessive wages of the 143 police officers in the top 250 city hall employee is directly attributed to overtime pay.

During 2022, APD averaged about 856 sworn officers and of that number 143 of those officers were in the top 250 paid employees.

In 2022, APD Lieutenants were paid a base pay $94,348 yearly or $45.36 hourly. There are 31 APD Lieutenants listed in the top 250 paid city hall employees who were paid between $125, 945  to $217,646  in 2022  because of overtime.

In 2022, APD Sergeant were  paid a base pay $82,533 a year, or $39.69 hourly. There are 35 APD Sergeants who were paid between $124,902.87 to $211,910  because of overtime.

In 2022, the  average yearly base pay  paid to Police Officers First Class, Senior Police Officers 1st Class, Master Police Officers First Class,  depending on their total number of years of experience was  $71,156.  There are 6 police officer 1st class,  19 Senior Police Officers 1st class and  2 Master Police Officers 1st class in the top 250 paid city hall employees that were paid between $124,902 and $165,330  because of overtime.

The link to review the entire list of 250 top city hall paid employees for 2022 is here:


The City of Albuquerque budget is a “performance based” budget.  All 27 city department, including APD are required to submit statistics reflecting job performance measures to justify increases or decreases in their budgets. Review of APD’s performance measures taken from  the city council approved budgets for  the past 3 full fiscal  years (July 1 to June 31)  reveals the following major highlights:


2020: 10,945

2021: 6,621

2022:  6,122


2020:  19,440

2021: 16,520

2022:  9,799


2020: 1,780

2021: 1,230

2022: 1,287

CLEARANCE RATE OF CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS (e.g., murder, rape, assault)

2020: 56%

2021: 56%

2022: 44%

CLEARANCE RATE OF CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY (e.g., robbery, bribery, burglary)

2020: 11%

2021: 12%

2022: 9%

CLEARANCE RATE OF CRIMES AGAINST SOCIETY (e.g., gambling, prostitution, drug violations)

2020: 79%

2021: 77%

2022: 57%

HOMICIDE CLEARANCE RATE (Uniform Crime Reporting definable)

2020: 57%

2021: 53%

2022: 71%

The link to 2024 fiscal year budget, page 150 for APD approved budget and  performance measures:

Click to access fy24-proposed-web-version.pdf

The link to 2023 fiscal year budget, page 242 for APD approved budget and performance measures:

The link to 2022 fiscal year budget, page  229  for APD approved budget and performance measures:

Click to access fy22-approved-budget-numbered-w-hyperlinks-final.pdf


On December 15, 2022, APD released the Traffic Units 2022 statistics. It was reported that the traffic unit had an 82% increase in overall traffic citations and a 29% decrease in traffic fatalities.

As of December 15, 2022 the Motors Unit issued 34,108 traffic citations, up from 18,661 in 2021. The Traffic Unit also investigated 61 fatal crashes year to date, down from 80 in 2021.

The unit issued 675 freeway citations,1,010 citations during Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS) operations, and 7,529 citations along the Central corridor.

A full presentation of the unit’s overall numbers can be found here.

On April 24, it was reported that APD had about 22,000 citations issued so far this year and  that’s from the combined efforts of several operations.


On May 26, Mayor Tim Keller signed off on the Albuquerque City Council approved $1.37 billion budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1, 2023 and ends June 30, 2024. The overall approved budget is for $1.37 billion with $827.1 million in general fund appropriations marking a 3% decrease from the current year. The combined operating and capital budget of $1,367,695,000 and it is $53.6 million lower than the fiscal year 2023 budget. The approved budget includes a 3.5% pay raise for city employees but not when it comes to APD police who will now be getting 9% pay increases combined over the next 2 years, not to mention APD officers receiving 13% pay raises combined in the previous 2 years.  The Albuquerque Police Department (APD) continues to be the largest city budget out of 27 departments. The fiscal year 2024 approved  General Fund budget is $257 million, a 1% increase from last year or 31% of the general fund. Last year’s 2023 APD’s budget was $255.4 million, which represented a 14.7% increase or $32.8 million above the fiscal year 2022 level.


In August 2017, then New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller, candidate for Albuquerque Mayor, had this to say about the city’s high crime rates:

“It’s unfortunate, but crime is absolutely out of control. It’s the mayor’s job to actually address crime in Albuquerque, and that’s what I want to do as the next mayor.”

Tim Keller ran on the platform promising to reduce the city’s spiking  crime rates, increase the number of sworn police to 1,200 and return to community-based policing. For 5 years, Keller has failed to  deliver on his promises  in that the city’s crime rates and murder rates are at historical highs, the number of sworn police has never even reached 1,000 let alone 1,200 under Keller and community base policing is nowhere to be found.

Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina always and emphatically proclaim that fighting crime is their number one priority. What directly contradicts this is that APD performance rates for the past 3 years have been going down dramatically in total felony arrests, misdemeanor arrests, and DWI arrests. Further, APD performance rates have also gone done with clearance rates down in crimes against persons (e.g. murder, rape, assault), down in  crimes against property (e.g. robbery, bribery, burglary)  and down in crimes against society (e.g. gambling, prostitution, drug violations.)

Almost every year Keller has been Mayor, he has increased APD’s budget as well as given significant hourly pay increases to APD’s officers. With newly negotiated union contract, combined hourly APD hourly pay increases over the last 4 years Keller has been in office is upwards of a whopping 22%. The 22% amount does not even include incentive pay, longevity pay and overtime pay added on top of the pay raises. While APD sworn have benefited with significant pay increases from  Tim Keller being Mayor, the other 5,000 remaining city hall employees have had to endure with mediocre pay rases as low as 2% to 3%, if any, a year.

Throughout Keller’s five years in office, APD has consistently failed to recruit and fill sworn police vacancies and has failed to keep up with yearly retirements. During the last 4 years, funding has been for 1,100 sworn police each year.  Today, APD has 856 sworn officers.  APD’s budget line item proposed budget list 1,847 full time positions with funding for 1,040 full-time, sworn police positions and 804 civilian support personnel for the 1,847 full time positions.

APD’s performance measures over the last 3 fiscal years have been on the decline and should be considered mediocre at best. Notwithstanding, the city continues to fund the department at ever increasing millions a year. The Keller Administration always agrees to union demands to increase hourly pay and  that are not at all tied to overall performance measures of the department.

If Mayor Tim Keller and APD Chief Harold Medina indeed believe that crime is the number one priority, they need to concentrate more on requiring far more and expect far more from APD’s  personnel when it comes to performance measures and arrests and clearance rates rather than caving into police union demands for more pay. Otherwise, all they are doing is throwing money at salaries hoping that more arrests will be made and  crime will go down as Mayor Tm Keller seeks a third term in 2025.

The link to a related blog article is here


Republican “False Forms Over Substance”; Publicity Stunt To Interfere With The Classroom; Form Merits An “F” By Educators

On Monday, July 11, New Mexico House Republican Caucus released a form they intend to send to all New Mexico parents with children in school.  The Republican caucus is  asking parents to send the form to the schools  to affirm their rights as  parents to have a say in  medical services, including abortion and gender-affirming care, and what instructional materials their children can receive while at school.

The form, which parents can sign and send to their students’ schools, offers an opportunity to lay out the types of information and health care services they want school personnel to tell them about before providing it to their children.  The Republican House caucus said the form comes in response to bills passed during the 2023 legislative session  year and they argue the legislation limits  parents’ involvement in such decisions.

Silver City area Republican Rep. Luis Terrazas said  hehopes school districts will honor parents requests. Terrazas said this:

“These bills cut at the very fabric of the family unit, and undermine [parental]  rights  when it comes to their children.”


The two bills passed this year that the Republican Caucus are upset about are House Bill 7  and Senate Bill 397.  Both bills  were hotly contested measures during the 2023 legislative session.

House Bill 7 is The Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act.  This law Prohibits public bodies, including local municipalities, from denying, restricting, or discriminating against an individual’s right to use or refuse reproductive health care or health care related to gender.

Senate Bill 397  bill enshrines school-based health centers in state law.

House Bill 7  and Senate Bill 397 are among six total bills being targeted in a repeal effort by a coalition of Republican-leaning groups.


The letter sent to parents of school age children reads as follows:

Dear Parent,

New Mexico laws passed during the 2023 session (HB 7 and SB 397) could restrict both parental involvement regarding certain types of medical services and instructional materials provided to minors during the school day, regardless of age. Medical services include “gender affirming care,” psychiatric care, and abortion services.

The following form is designed to help parents and guardians explicitly exercise their right to be fully informed prior to their child accessing medical and behavioral health services, including some instructional materials. HB7 and SB397 can be found by clicking the links below.

Parents and guardians are responsible for making educational and health care decisions for their children until the child reaches the age of majority. A minor child cannot consent to his/her own educational decisions or medical treatment. It is important for parents/guardians to remain engaged and informed with school district staff to ensure their children are receiving the appropriate education and health care.

 Parent/guardian engagement ensures the highest standard of care.


1.  Carefully read and mark each check box for which you are requiring notification before your child participates in activities that might be occurring on the school campus.   

2. Sign the notification form.

3.  Make two copies of the signed form.

4.  Keep one copy for your personal records.

5.  Email one copy to your child’s school admin office, requesting that a copy be placed in your child’s permanent record with the school district.

Please note that current New Mexico law, NMSA 32A-6A-15, provides for a child 14 years of age or older to consent to certain behavioral and family therapy and counseling programs. 32A-6A-15(C) also states that “A clinician or other mental health and developmental disabilities professional shall promote the healthy involvement of a child’s legal custodians and family members in developing the child’s treatment plan, including appropriate treatment for children fourteen years of age or older.


NM House Republican Leadership


Below is the Parental/Guardian Notification and Consent School Form prepared by the Republican Caucus and sent to parents:


 I/We, __________________________________ the legal parent(s)/guardian(s) of,

__________________________________________________________: (Check all that apply.)

 [ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning transgender ideology, gender affirming care or gender identity.

 [ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity,assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning abortion.

 [ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, class, lesson, instruction, curriculum, assembly, guest speaker, activity, assignment, library material, online material, club, group, or association concerning contraception and other family planning.

 [ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, or association concerning primary health care.

[ ] Require prior notification before my child participates in, or is given access to, any health care services, referral for services, or association concerning mental or psychiatric care.

 If I am not given prior notification and the opportunity to make an informed decision concerning the wellbeing of my child, I withhold consent for the items checked above.

 ___________________________ ___________________________ ____________________

Printed Name Signature Date

 ___________________________ ___________________________ ____________________

 Printed Name Signature Date

 Please also note that any parental notification does not prevent the mandatory disclosure of certain circumstances to law enforcement or the Children, Youth, and Families Department as required by law.

The form is available on the New Mexico House Republican Campaign Committee website:

Click to access v2-Parental-Notification-Form-House-GOP-23-07-10.pdf


Republican State Representative Luis Terrazas, who represents Catron, Grant and Hidalgo counties, confirmed that the main target of the letter and the form is House Bill 7 which is the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act.  Terrazas  pointed out that  House Bill 7  states:

“A public body or agent of a public body shall not discriminate against a person based on that person’s use of or refusal to use reproductive health care services or gender-affirming health care.”

According to Republican House members, House Bill 7  is unclear when it comes to parental notification and  the law never mentions parents or parental rights when it comes to knowing what is taught in schools. The letter says parents need to be notified when certain topics are discussed in class, such as abortion, gender identity, mental health care, or contraception.

Terrazas said this:

“This simple form …  is a parental notification and consent form that is free for you to download and print. … It asks school districts to keep parents informed on the curriculum, class discussions, and decisions that impact their child’s health care. … I recognize that there are some schools and districts that have policies that do not require notification … This letter and form released today makes it clear that those who wish to participate that parents’ rights are paramount and need to be respected, even if local policy says otherwise.”

During the press conference announcing the form letter, Republican Representative Terrazas was asked where he sees an effort to conceal medical services or instructional materials provided to students from their parents in the language of the bills.  Terrazas was not able to point to any specific language, saying the form mainly seeks to let parents be explicit about their wishes. He said this:

“There hasn’t been any clarity. And so this form, that’s exactly what it does … It just gives a parent the right look over the form, decide what they want to participate or not participate and submit it … so that we get a clear directive of what they’re comfortable or not comfortable with. … Even if these issues weren’t ambiguous in the law, why is it a problem for parents to ask to be notified about what their children are being presented in the classroom?”


HB 7 sponsor Democrat Rep. Linda Serrato of Santa Fe  said neither bill mentions any sort of confidentiality from guardians nor makes a specific provision allowing school personnel to speak with children about things such as abortion services or gender-affirming care without parental approval.

“HB 7  doesn’t touch on that at all, to be quite frank. … It simply says that you can get gender-affirming and reproductive health care and that they can’t persecute you or prosecute you.”

According to Serrato, the closest either bill comes to confidentiality from parents or guardians is in HB 7, which states that public bodies or people working on their behalf cannot deny, restrict or interfere with someone’s access to such services.  She noted that  even that language  “doesn’t broach” interfering with parents’ involvement and she said this:

“It feels to me … like more of what you’d see out of Florida than out of New Mexico, because it just feels like a way to get attention that could actually really hurt people. … It definitely misleads individuals on what this bill does.”

Rep. Linda Serrato issued the following statement:

“This is nothing more than a political stunt. At best, these letters will create confusion for parents about what their kids are learning and concern for teachers about what they are allowed to teach. At worst, these letters have the potential to pit parents and teachers against each other, when we all should be working together in the interest of our kids – not standing in the way of their ability to get healthcare.

It’s also important to note, that HB 7 has absolutely nothing to do with school curriculum. It simply ensures that no matter where you are in New Mexico, you will not be discriminated against, prosecuted or persecuted for receiving the healthcare you need, including reproductive, abortion, or gender-affirming care.”


Albuquerque Public Schools do not provide heath care to their students, and leave all health care decisions up to parents. APS spokeswoman Monica Armenta told the Albuquerque Journal that APS does not provide the medical care or education the House Republicans are targeting in their letter. Armenta said it’s too soon to tell how the forms would be treated by APS but she did point to a district policy calling for provisions to be made “for review of student or parent objections to presentations or to print or multimedia instructional materials” about controversial or sensitive issues.

Links to quoted news sources are here:


The New Mexico Republican Party is working with three  conservative organizations and a petition drive and referendum process to repeal the legislation. Those 3 organizations are the  New Mexico Family Action Movement, the  “Better Together New Mexico”  and the “New Mexico Business Coaltion”. 

The 6  laws targeted for repeal took effect on June 16, including the bill barring discrimination against individuals seeking abortion services and a separate bill shielding nurses and doctors who provide abortions from criminal investigation. The 6 bills targeted for repeal by petition drive referendum are:

House Bill 7: Prohibit public bodies from blocking access to abortion services and gender-affirming care.

Senate Bill 13: Shield doctors and nurses who provide abortion services and gender-affirming care from civil or criminal legal liability.

Senate Bill 397: Enshrine school-based health centers in state law.

House Bill 207: Expand scope of state’s Human Rights Act to cover gender identity.

House Bill 4: Change voting laws by expanding automatic voter registration and establishing permanent absentee voter list.

Senate Bill 180: Update state’s election laws by establishing mandatory training for poll watchers and clarifying process for updating voter rolls.

Governor  Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the six bills in question into law. She also defended the six bills, saying they were passed by duly elected lawmakers to benefit state residents.  The Governor’s spokeswoman Caroline Sweeney said this:

“Gov. Lujan Grisham signed these six bills because she knows, unequivocally, they will do good for thousands of New Mexicans so they can have healthy, productive lives, and participate fully in their communities as their true selves.”


The action of the New Mexico House Republican Caucus in sending out their letter and form is a clear case of “False Forms Over Substance”.  Both should be treated as nothing more than a publicity stunt that should be ignored by all the school districts in the state.  The letter and the so called  Parental Consent Form is yet another example of the extreme lengths the  Republican Party and extreme right wing organizations  will go to oppose Democrat initiatives and interfere with the legislative process.

It is painfully obvious that when Republicans are not successful at the ballot box, are not successful in the legislative process, they revert to the courts, petition drives and publicity stunts such sending letters and forms to parents of school age children to make false claims and gin up animosity. The problem with this latest Republican publicity stunt is that it is an attempt to interfere with public education by creating animosity between parents and the school systems.  The Republican Caucus Parental/Guardian Notification and Consent School Form needs to be given an “F” by all educators.