The November 7 municipal election will remake the Albuquerque City 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. 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 who is a public finance candidate while her opponent is Progressive Democrat Abby Foster who is a privately financed candidate. The city council’s 5 other seats will not be decided again until 2025 and will include the Mayor’s race. There are no term limits for city councilor nor for Mayor.
The candidates who have qualified for the ballot and public financing are the following:
DISTRICT 2 (DOWNTOWN, OLD TOWN, PARTS OF THE NORTH VALLEY AND WEST SIDE)
- Joaquin Baca, Democrat: Water rights program manager at the U.S. Forest Service, member of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District, President of the ABQCore neighborhood association. (Qualified for $40,000 public financing.)
- Loretta Naranjo Lopez, Democrat: Retired city planner and member of NM Public Employees Retirement Association Board. (Qualified for $40,000 public financing.)
- Moises A. Gonzalez (Undetermined): Documentary filmmaker, former teacher and community activist. (Privately financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
- Brook Bassan, Republican: Incumbent City Councilor and a stay-at-home mom. and incumbent councilor. (Qualified for $40,262 in public financing.)
- Abby Foster, Democrat: Small business owner, attorney and mediator who practices adult guardianship law. (Privately financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
- Jeff Hoehn, Democrat: Executive director of Cuidando Los Niños. (Privately financed candidate.)
- Abel Otero, Democrat: Owner and operator of Fonzy’s barbershop. (Qualified for $40,000.00 public financing.)
- Kristin Greene, Democrat: Tattoo artist and Burlesque dancer. (Qualified for $40,000.00 public financing.)
- Nichole Rogers, Democrat: Office manager and independent contractor for Primerica Financial Services. (Qualified for $40,000.00 public financing.)
DISTRICT 8 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS AND FOOTHILLS)
- Dan Champine, Republican: A retired police officer and current mortgage lender. (Qualified for $44,577.00 public financing.)
- Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Democrat: Vice president of Meals on Wheels of New Mexico former NM House representative for District 21. (Qualified for $44,577.00 public financing.)
The link to the City clerk’s website listing candidates is here:
ISSUE BACGROUND AND CANDIDATE QUESTIONS
All too often, city council races are ignored by many voters and the campaigns do not really heat up until the very last month or two weeks of the campaign. Most city council races are won with direct voter contact and candidates going “door to door” looking for support and votes.
Voters should know where candidates stand on the major issues they care about and what they will do if elected. Major issues and questions candidates for City Council and voters need to think about and discuss include the following:
Two New Mexico County Commissions and 3 municipalities have passed ordinances restricting a woman’s right to choose by prohibiting the operation of abortion clinics. The ordinances are based on the Comstock Act which is federal legislation from the 1870s that prohibits the mailing of “obscene material,” including medication or equipment used in abortions. The Attorney General has filed a New Mexico Supreme Court action to set aside the ordinances and declare such ordinances as unconstitutional with the litigation still pending.
1.Are you in favor of the City Council enacting similar legislation in the form of prohibiting the city from issuing licenses to do business in Albuquerque to any health care provider that provides abortion services?
2, During the last fiscal year, the city council funded Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion services, $150,000. Do you feel the City should continue providing funding to Planned Parenthood?
B. GUN CONTROL
The exclusive authority on gun control is given to the New Mexico legislature and municipalities are barred by the New Mexico constitutions from enacting such legislation. The 2023 New Mexico 60-day legislative began on January 17 and came to an end on March 18. Upwards of 40-gun control measures were introduced, but only 10 were seriously considered and of those 10, only 2 made it through the session to become law. Among the laws that failed were banning the sale of AR-15-style rifles and prohibiting the sales magazines with more than 10 rounds.
- Do you feel the City should seek home rule authority to allow it to prohibit the city from issuing a yearly license to do business in Albuquerque to any retail business that sells AR-15-style rifles and prohibiting the sales magazines with more than 10 rounds?
- What gun control measures do you support and feel the city should support in its annual legislative priorities presented to the legislature?
C. THE HOMELESS
Each year the “Point in Time” (PIT) survey is conducted to determine how many people experience homelessness on a given night in Albuquerque, and to learn more about their specific needs. The PIT count is the official number of homeless reported by communities to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to help understand the extent of homelessness at the city, state, regional and national levels.
In August, the 2022 the Point In Time (PIT) homeless survey reported that the number total homeless in Albuquerque was 1,311 with 940 in emergency shelters, 197 unsheltered and 174 in transitional housing. On May 22, the New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) released a report on the state’s homeless and the affordable housing shortage. The LFC report included the preliminary estimates yet to be finalized 2023 Point In Time (PIT) annual homeless count.
The 2023 PIT preliminary data revealed a significant 48% uptick in the state’s homeless population going from upwards of 2,600 people to nearly 4,000 people. The increase was reportedly driven primarily by an increase in the unsheltered count with 780 more people in Albuquerque and 232 more in the rest of the state. According to the LFC report, the 2023 Albuquerque unsheltered count increase by 780 more people. In otherwards Albuquerque homeless went from 1,311 in 2022 as reported by PIT to 2,091 as reported by the LFC.
Over the past two fiscal years, the City Council has approved and budgeted $33,854,536 for homeless emergency shelters, support, mental health and substance abuse programs and $60,790,321 for affordable housing programs for the low-income, near homeless. It has also approved funding for two 24/7 homeless shelters, including purchasing the Gibson Medical Center for $15 million to convert it into a homeless shelter. The Family and Community Services approved 2023-2024 budget lists forty five (45) separate affordable housing contracts totaling $39,580,738, fifteen (15) separate emergency shelter contracts totaling $5,575,690, and twenty seven (27) separate homeless support service contracts totaling $5,104,938 for a total of $50,261,366
- Do you feel that the city homeless numbers have reached a crisis level and do you feel the Keller Administration has been effective in handling or managing the crisis?
- Should the City continue to fund city services to the homeless or near homeless at the current levels?
- Do you feel more or less should be spent on dealing with the homeless?
- What more do you feel can and should be done to reduce the homeless population in Albuquerque?
- What services should the City provide to the homeless and poor if any?
- Should the city be more involved with the county in providing mental health care facilities and programs?
- Would you be in favor of the City Attorney’s office participation in a mental health “civil commitment” program of the homeless suffering from mental illness and drug addiction where they would not be criminally charged nor prosecuted and jailed but committed to a behavioral health and drug addiction facility or hospital after a court of law finds that they represent a danger to themselves and/or the general public?
C. SANCTUARY CITY VERSUS IMMIGRANT FRIENDLY CITY
On May 9, 2023 Title 10 referred to as the Covid-era restrictions that allowed immigration officials to quickly turn away migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border expired at ushering in tougher policies for asylum-seekers. Republican controlled state governors such as Florida and Texas are busing migrants seeking asylum to major cities such as New York and Washington DC.
In 2001, the Albuquerque City Council enacted a resolution that declared Albuquerque an “immigrant-friendly” city and 10 years later the city council voted to affirm the policy. An “immigrant-friendly” city implements “welcoming city” policies and does not provide for city enforcement of federal immigration laws, and addresses only city services, including licensing and housing. The City of Albuquerque has never been a “sanctuary city” where law enforcement is prohibited from enforcing federal laws and local government provides services to migrants seeking asylum. Albuquerque’s “immigrant-friendly” designation welcomes immigrants to the city and is mainly symbolic.
1.Should the city of Albuquerque provide housing or services to migrants seeking asylum and to what extent?
2.Should the city council repeal the 2001 resolution that declared Albuquerque an immigrant friendly city?
3. Should the city remain an immigrant friendly city as defined by city ordinance or should the council go further and declare the city a sanctuary city?
D. CITY GOVERNMENT AND SERVICES
- Do you feel the position of an elected City Councilor should be a part time paid position or a full-time paid position that should prohibit outside employment as is the case with Mayor?
- On March 24, 2023 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. Are you in favor of the pay increase or should city councilor pay remain the same?
- Are you in favor of a state “right to work statute” that would impact or eliminate city employee unions?
- Should city unions be prohibited from endorsing candidates for municipal office?
- As a candidate for city council will you seek and will you accept the endorsement of any city of Albuquerque union, including the endorsement of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association and the Fire Fighters local union?
- Are you in favor of privatizing city services or work such as public safety, the 311 call center operations, the bus system or the maintenance and repair work done at city facilities such as the Bio Park?
- Are you in favor of the city bus transit be free of charge to the general public?
- City Councilors each fiscal year are given upwards of $2 million in discretionary spending for capital improvement projects in their individual districts. What projects your district would you identify to spend such money on?
E. CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
On October 18, 2022, Mayor Tim Keller announced his “Housing Forward ABQ Plan”. It is a “multifaceted initiative” where Keller set the goal of adding 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what the private sector normally creates each year. According to Keller, the city is in a major “housing crisis” and the city needs between 13,000 and 28,000 new housing units.
Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” was embodied in amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) which is the city’s zoning laws. To add the 5,000 new housing units, Keller proposed that the City of Albuquerque fund and be involved with the construction of new low-income housing. The strategy includes “motel conversions” where the city buys existing motels or commercial office space and converts them into low-income housing. It includes “casitas” on existing residential properties as permissive uses and not as conditional uses.
On July 6, Mayor Tim Keller signed into law the zoning amendments that embody his “Housing Forward ABQ Plan”. It will allow casita construction on 68% of all built out residential lots in the city. Casita construction is now a “permissive use” on all single-family R–1 zones giving the Planning Department exclusive authority to approve casitas over objections of adjoining property owners. Mayor Keller announced his administration’s goal is to review and approve 1,000 new casitas all over the city by 2025. Keller announced the Planning Department will also “lower the bar” for property owners to build casitas and provide pre-approved casita designs. The city also wants to provide loans for building costs to homeowners that agree to rent their casita to those who use Section 8 housing vouchers.
1.Are you in favor of motel conversions and if so to what extent should the city council be involved with approving the acquisitions?
2. Should “casita” additions be a “conditional use” requiring an application process with the City Planning Department, notice to surrounding property owners and affected neighborhood associations and provide for appeal rights? Should casitas be a “permissive use” that would give the Planning Department exclusive authority to issue permits for construction without notices and hearings and with no appeal process?
3. Should the City Planning department provide pre-approved casita designs to developers?
4. Should the city provide loans for building costs to homeowners that agree to rent their casita to those who use Section 8 housing vouchers?
Amendments to the Integrated Development Ordinance, which is the city’s zoning laws, allows for the land use known as “Safe Outdoor Spaces” to deal with the homeless crisis. “Safe Outdoor Spaces” are city sanctioned homeless encampments located in open space areas that will allow upwards of 50 homeless people to camp, require hand washing stations, toilets and showers, require a management plan, 6-foot fencing and provide for social services. The city council has voted to allow 18 Safe Outdoor Spaces, 2 in each city council district. The City Council has attempted 3 times to repeal allowing Safe Outdoor Spaces and funding with Mayor Keller vetoing the attempts.
- What is your position on city sanction and funded Safe Outdoor Spaces and should they be allowed at all and if so to what extent?
- The Integrated Development Ordinance enacted by the City Council in 2017 essentially repealed all sector development plans designed to protect neighborhoods and their character to favor the development community. Are you in favor of repealing the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) and reverting back to the comprehensive zoning code and enacted sector development plans?
- To what extent should adjoining property owners and neighborhood associations have the right to contest and appeal changes in zoning permissive and conditional uses?
- What do you feel the Albuquerque City Council can do to promote “infill development” and would it include the City acquiring property to be sold to developers and the formation of public/private partnerships?
- What do you feel the City Council can do to address vacant residential and commercial properties that have been declared “substandard” by city zoning and unfit for occupancy?
- Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibit city annexation of property without county approval?
UPTOWN TRANSIT CENTER EXPANSION
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 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 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 overall development project will have underground parking, 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. 200 of the 400 of the apartments will be dedicated to affordable housing and the other half will be at the fair market rental rates.
1.Are you in favor of the Uptown Transit Center expansion?
2.Do you feel it is appropriate to mandate 200 of the 400 apartments to be dedicated to affordable Housing?
3. The city owns the land upon which the Uptown Transit Center expansion and apartments will be built and it is some of the most expensive real estate in the city. Do you believe that there is a higher and better use for the property, such as a park or a community center?
RAIL TRAIL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT
On July 22, Mayor Tim Keller announced plans for the Albuquerque Rail Trail project. The Rail Trail project is an $80 Million dollar a 7- to 8-mile multi-use pedestrian and bike trail circling downtown that will connect key destinations in the downtown area. The Rail Trail will consist of 11 major sections all in the Downtown area from the Rail Yards to the Sawmill District, Old Town, Tingley Beach, the Barela’s neighborhood, and back around in a 8-mile loop. The total projected cost is $80 Million. The project is roughly half funded. Funding for the Rail Trail Loop includes $15 Million from the City, $10 million from the State of New Mexico, and $11.5 million from the Federal RAISE Grant, totaling $36.5M for the full loop. Money from bonds that voters are expected to vote on in November’s city election could also be used for the project. A 25-foot neon tumbleweed at the intersection of Route 66 and the railroad is being proposed.
1.Are you in favor of the Rail Trail project as proposed by Mayor Keller?
2. Do you feel the city council should have any input on the plans and designs for the Rail Trail?
3. Are you in favor of spending $80 Million dollars on the project?
4. Should the Rail Trail project be placed on the ballot for voter approval?
5, Do you feel that State and Federal funding should be used for the project?
6. To what extent should the city provide law enforcement to patrol the 8 mile rail trail and do you have any public safety concerns for the project?
7. Do you have an opinion on the appropriateness of spending money on a 25 foot neon sculpture of a “tumbleweed” at Central and the railroad tracks?
F. ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT AND CRIME:
The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including approving its budget. Since 2014, the city and the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) have been working under a federal court approved settlement agreement after the Department of Justice found a “culture of aggression” and excessive use of force and deadly force. Under the terms of the settlement, APD is required to implement 271 reforms with oversight by a court approved Federal Independent Monitor. When APD reaches 95% compliance in 3 compliance levels and maintains that compliance for 2 years, the case can be dismissed.
On May 10, 2023 Federal Court Appointed Independent Monitor James Ginger filed his 17th Report on the Compliance Levels of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) and the City of Albuquerque with Requirements of the Court-Approved Settlement Agreement. The Federal Monitor IMR-17 report which covers August 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023, reported APD’s compliance levels were as follows:
Primary Compliance 100%
Secondary Compliance 100%
Operational Compliance 92% (95% needed to be achieved and sustained for 2 years)
- Do you feel the city should seek immediate dismissal of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement or wait and additional 2 years after APD comes into complete compliance in all 3 of the compliance levels?
2. What oversight role do you believe the Albuquerque City Council should play when it come to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)?
- Should the City seek to renegotiate or set aside the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and if so why?
- What would you do to enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?
- Should the APD Chief, Assistant Chief, Deputy Chiefs and APD command staff be replaced with a national search and replaced by “outsiders” to make changes at APD with new leadership and management?
- Should the function of Internal Affairs be removed from APD and civilianized under the city Office of Inspector General, the Internal Audit Department and the City Human Resources Department?
- APD currently has 980 sworn police. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?
- What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in Albuquerque or your district?
- Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?
- Should the City Council by ordinance create a Department of Public Safety with the appointment of a Chief Public Safety Officer to assume management and control of the Albuquerque Police Department, the Albuquerque Fire Department, the Emergency Operations Center and the 911 emergency operations call center?
- Should APD and the Bernalillo County Sherriff’s Office be abolished and consolidated to form one regional law enforcement agency, combining resources with the appointment of a governing civilian authority and the appointment of a Superintendent of Public Safety?
APD POLICE PAY
The City Council must approve contracts negotiated by the Mayor’s Administration with all unions including the Albuquerque Police Department Union (APOA). Although state law is clear that management is strictly prohibited from joining government employee unions, APD Sergeants and Luitenants, who are management, are allowed to be members of the police union.
On July, 14 2023, the Mayor Tim Keller Administration City announced that it 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. Under the new contract APD Police Officers will be paid between $63,000 per year and as much as $81,000 per year depending upon their total years of service. Sergeants will be paid between $86,659.65 to $90,126.04 a year under the new contract. Lieutenants will be paid between $99,065.40 to $103,027 a year under the new contract.
The union negotiated hourly yearly pay amounts do not include bonus pay, overtime pay or longevity pay which can add thousands each year to base pay and can result in police officers doubling or tripling police officer annual pay. In addition to their hourly pay, APD sworn police officers are paid “longevity pay” with longevity pay starting at $2,730 per year and increases topping of at $16,380 annually for those who have served 17 or more years. Retention pay bonuses for police officers who have been on the force 19 years or more, and who are eligible for retirement are paid as much as $18,000 more per year, or $1,500 more a month. A combined total of $34,380 yearly incentive pay and longevity pay is paid to a police officer with 18 to 19 years of experience.
1. State law prohibits government management from joining government unions, Should APD Sergeants and Lieutenants, even though they are management, be allowed to be members of the police union allowing the union to negotiate pay and benefits for them?
- Should the city abolish APD hourly pay and implement a salary structure with a step increase system based on year experience and performance measures and abolish overtime pay and longevity pay?
- The City of Albuquerque Budget is referred to as a performance based budget where all city departments must submit detailed statistics and data referred to as “performance measures” to justify their budgets. Should negotiated APD pay raises be tied to department overall performance measures such as crime rates, total arrests and clearance rates?
- The city of Albuquerque employs upwards of 6,000 full time employees. APD is currently budgeted for 1,000 sworn police and 780 firefighters and only they are paid longevity pay and bonus pay. Do you feel that all city employees and not just police officers and firefighters should be eligible to be paid longevity pay and bonus pay?
- Should the city continue to fund and provide full time APD police officers, known as school resource officers, to the Albuquerque Public School system or should the Albuquerque Public Schools expand and provide more funding to its own APS School Police and reassign APD Officers to patrol the city?
G. THE CITY ECONOMY
It is often said that the City of Albuquerque is the economic engine for the state and as goes Albuquerque’s economy so goes New Mexico’s economy. The city’s Economic Development Department provides services intended to bring long term economic vitality to the City. Included in the department are the economic development division, the film and music offices, the international trade division, the management of contracts for tourism and the program for economic development investments. The mission of the department is to develop a more diversified and equitable economy that works for everyone by growing and retaining local businesses and jobs; eliminating barriers to success in underserved communities; recruiting businesses in key industries; increasing Albuquerque’s competitiveness in the global market; and fostering a healthful built environment. The FY/24 General Fund budget for the Economic Development Department is $3.8 million, a decrease of 62.1% or $6.2 million below the FY/23 original budget.
1.What strategy would you implement to bring new industries, corporations and jobs to Albuquerque?
2. Albuquerque’s major growth industries include health care, transportation, manufacturing, retail and tourism with an emerging film industry. What programs would you propose to help or enhance these industries?
3. To what extent should tax increment districts, industrial revenue bonds and income bonds be used to spur Albuquerque’s economy?
4. What financial incentives do you feel the city can or should offer and provide to the private sector to attract new industry and jobs to Albuquerque, and should that include start-up grants or loans with “claw back” provisions?
5. What sort of private/public partnership agreements or programs should be implemented to spur economic development?
6. What sort of programs or major projects or facilities, if any, should the city partner with the State or County to spur economic development?
7. What programs can the city implement to better coordinate its economic development with the University of New Mexico and the Community College of New Mexico (CNM) to insure an adequately trained workforce for new employers locating to Albuquerque?
8. Are you in favor of the enactment of a gross receipt tax or property tax dedicated strictly to economic development, programs or construction projects to revitalize Albuquerque that would be enacted by the City Council or be voter approved?
9. What programs can Albuquerque implement to insure better cooperation with Sandia Labs and the transfer of technology information for economic development.
10, Do you feel City Economic Development Department is adequately funded and if not what funding levels and personnel staff do you feel is needed?
- Should the City of Albuquerque have representation or be included on the Albuquerque School board, the University of New Mexico Board of Regents and the Community College of New Mexico Board?
- What do you think the City can do to help reduce high school dropout rates?
- What education resources should or can the City make available to the Albuquerque school system?
- To what extent should the city make available before and after school programs?
- Should the city offer as a paid benefit to its employees child care at a city facility?
I. TAXATION AND PROJECT FINANCING:
1.Do you feel that all increases in gross receipts taxes should be voter approved or should tax increases be the exclusive prerogative of the city council as it is now?
2 Are you in favor of constructing an outdoor soccer stadium at the Balloon Fiesta Park?
3. Are you in favor of constructing a multipurpose arena funded by use of voter approved bonding and if so where should it be built?
J. MISCELLANIOUS ISSUES
- Do you feel Mayor Tim Keller has done a good job, do you support his agenda as Mayor and has he endorsed your candidacy?
- If you have qualified to be a public finance candidate, will you truly be a public finance candidate or do you intend to rely upon measured finance committee’s set up to promote your candidacy?
- Should major capital improvement projects such as the Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART) project or the building of a soccer stadium be placed on the ballot for voter approval or should major capital improvement projects be up to the city council?
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
What is downright pathetic is that more than a few well-known political gossip types and city hall observers have already begun to declare who the winners will be in all the city council races even before the campaigns are fully engaged and covered by the media. One political gossip columnist and his sources began predicting the final outcomes of all 4-city council races the very day after candidates qualified to be on the ballot. It is the real slimy side of politics from those who have never run for office themselves and who simply want to try and be king makers, who are already supporting a candidate and who are actually working on campaigns. It is so very discouraging to those who are now running for city council, who are going do to door campaigning and who are forced to listen to their political drivel. Predictions of front runners now does a real disservice to the candidates and the election process they are going through.
There have also been more than a few endorsements of candidates by outgoing city councilors. Endorsements of elected officials leaving office of those seeking to replace them amount to nothing more than attempting to preserve their own legacy. They are trying to influence public opinion, discourage the other candidates and to tip public perception in favor of their preferred candidates. The outgoing city councilors do not realize they are not as well liked as they think they are which is likely one of the reasons they are not running for another term.
The city is facing any number of problems that are bringing it to its knees. Those problems include exceptionally high violent crime and murder rates, the city’s increasing homeless numbers, lack of mental health care programs and little economic development.
The city cannot afford city councilors who makes promises and offers only eternal hope for better times that result in broken campaign promises. What is needed are city elected officials who actually know what they are doing, who will make the hard decisions without an eye on their next election, not make decisions only to placate their base and please only those who voted for them. What’s needed is a healthy debate on solutions and new ideas to solve our mutual problems, a debate that can happen only with a contested election. A highly contested races reveal solutions to our problems.
Voters are entitled to and should expect more from candidates than fake smiles, slick commercials, and no solutions and no ideas. Our city needs more than promises of better economic times and lower crime rates for Albuquerque and voters need to demand answers and hold elected officials accountable.
Let the debate begin and good luck to the candidates!