On July 28, the online news agency New Mexico Sun published the below Dinelli opinion guest column on the 2023 races for city council.
Headline: “2023 ABQ elections will be a referendum on the job performance of Mayor Keller”
By Pete Dinelli
The regular 2023 municipal election to elect City Councilors for City Council Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 will be held on November 7, 2023 along with $200 Million in bonds to be approved by city voters.
The November 7 municipal election could shift city council majority control from the current 5 Democrats to a Republican control or perhaps a conservative shift to challenge Mayor Keller’s progressive agenda. After the 2021 municipal election, the city council went from a 6-3 Democrat Majority with the loss of a west side Democrat incumbent to a Republican and it became a 5-4 Democrat majority, but the ideology split is 5 conservatives to 3 progressives and 1 moderate.
Like it or not, the 2023 municipal election will be a referendum on the job performance of Mayor Tim Keller only because he himself and his supporters are inserting themselves into the races for city council when they should keep their noses out of the races. It’s no accident that Mayor Keller’s 2021 campaign manager is being paid to manage the campaigns of two city council candidates. Keller is fully aware the stakes are high in the 2023 municipal election. Keller intends to take an active roll in electing city councilors who support his progressive agenda over the final 2 years of his second term to set himself up to run for a third term in 2025. The question is if Tim Keller will publicly endorse candidates?
What is downright pathetic is that more than a few well-known political pundits and city hall observers began to declare who the front runners are and predicting the final outcomes of all 4 city council races the very day after candidates qualified to be on the ballot. Predictions of winners even now does a real disservice to the candidates and the election process. What political pundits are really trying to do is to act like king makers. They are trying to influence the public opinion, discourage candidates and to tip public perception in favor of their preferred candidates. It is the real slimy side of politics from those who have never run for office themselves and it is so very discouraging to those who run for office forced to listen to their political drivel.
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 affordable housing, lack of mental health care programs and very little next to nothing in 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. Below in the postscript is a link to a blog article that provides back ground information issues and questions.
What is needed are city councilors who actually know what they are doing, who are independent and will make the hard decisions without an eye on their next election nor who placate and appease the Mayor or 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.
The candidates who have been verified by the city clerk to be on the ballot are:
DISTRICT 2 (DOWNTOWN, OLD TOWN, NORTH VALLEY)
Joaquin Baca, Democrat, a hydrologist. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Loretta Naranjo Lopez, Democrat, a retired city planner. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Moises A. Gonzalez, Democrat, community activist. (Privately financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
Brook Bassan, Republican Incumbent, a stay-at-home mom. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Abby Foster, Progressive Democrat, and private attorney. (Privately financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
Abel Otero, a Democrat, a barber and community activist. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Kristin Green, progressive Democrat and community activist. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Jeff Hoehn, Democrat, a nonprofit executive director. (Privately financed candidate.)
Nichole Rogers, Democrat, business consultant with background in health care, education and government. (Publicly financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 8 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS AND FOOTHILLS)
Dan Champine, Republican, a retired police officer and current mortgage lender. (Publicly financed candidate.)
Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Democrat, a consultant and former state representative, (Publicly financed candidate.)
Pete Dinelli is a native of Albuquerque. He is a licensed New Mexico attorney with 27 years of municipal and state government service including as an assistant attorney general, assistant district attorney prosecuting violent crimes, city of Albuquerque deputy city attorney and chief public safety officer, Albuquerque city councilor, and several years in private practice. Dinelli publishes a blog covering politics in New Mexico: www.PeteDinelli.com.
2023 City Council Candidates, Issues Background And Questions; Competitive Races Will Result In Healthy Debate And Solutions To City’s Problems; Voters And Candidates Should Ignore Politcal Gossip Drivel