The November 7,2023 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. Early voting is already underway at County Clerks’ offices and expanded to more locations on Saturday, October 21. This blog article is an in depth review of all 4 city council races with candidate backgrounds, the issues identified with candidate positions and with Commentary and Analysis on the politcal dynamics of the races.
Three of the four incumbents whose seats are on the ballot are not running for reelection. Progressive Democrats Issac Benton of Downtown’s District 2 and Council President Pat Davis of District 6, spanning Nob Hill and the International District, are stepping aside, as is Conservative Republic Trudy Jones of District 8, in the Northeast foothills. The only sitting councilor running this year for a second term is District 4’s first term Conservative 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, Progressive 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, Moderate Democrat: Retired city planner and current President of the Santa Barbara and Martineztweon neighborhood Association Neighborhood Assocaitation and former Board of Directors member of NM Public Employees Retirement Association. (Qualified for $40,000 public financing.)
- Moises A. Gonzalez (Independent): Documentary filmmaker, former teacher and community activist. (Privately financed candidate.)
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
- Brook Bassan, Conservative Republican: Incumbent City Councilor and a stay-at-home mom. and incumbent councilor. (Qualified for $40,262in public financing.)
- Abby Foster,Progressive Democrat: Small business owner, attorney and mediator who practices adult guardianship law. (Privately financed candidate and according to most recent finance report has raised $77,900.)
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
- Jeff Hoehn,Progressive Democrat: Executive director of Cuidando Los Niños. (Privately financed candidate.)
- Abel Otero,Progressive Democrat: Owner and operator of Fonzy’s barbershop. (Qualified for $40,000.00 public financing.)
- Kristin Greene,Progressive Democrat: Tattoo artist and Burlesque dancer. (Qualified for $40,000.00 public financing.)
- Nichole Rogers,Progressive 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,Conservative Republican: A retired police officer and current mortgage lender. (Qualified for $44,577.00 public financing.)
- Idalia Lechuga-Tena,Moderate 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:
DISTRICT 2 (DOWNTOWN, OLD TOWN, PARTS OF THE NORTH VALLEY AND WEST SIDE)
The District 2 City Council seat has been held by Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton since 2005 and it could shift politically. Though no Republican is running for city council, an Independent is in the race. Benton told the Journal that he’s ready to move on from holding public office. In March when he announced he was stepping aside, Benton said this:
“(It’s) time to turn it on over to someone else who has the appetite to get it done.”
Moderate Democrat Loretta Naranjo Lopez and Progressive Democrat Joaquin Baca are up against Independent Moises Gonzalez for Benton’s seat that covers Downtown Albuquerque. All three identified housing and homelessness as their top priority, with Naranjo Lopez and Baca adding crime as a top issue. Both Democrats want to see the city better address behavioral health to free up law enforcement to focus on violent crime.
MODERATE DEMOCRATE LORETTA NARANJO LOPEZ
Loretta Naranjo Lopez is a retired city employee and a 15-year veteran of Albuquerque’s City Planning Department involved housing code enforcement. She is also a former member of the Public Employees Retirement Association Board of Directors. She is the current President of the Martinez Town Santa Barbara Neighborhood Association. She has lived in her district 63 years, she is Albuquerque native, and a 6th generation Martinez from Martineztown.
Naranjo Lopez opposed much of Mayor Tim Keller’s “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” which was a “multifaceted initiative” where Keller called for drastic changes to the city’s zoning laws known as the Integrated Development Ordinance to favor developers in order to add 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what private industry normally creates and she believes it will cause gentrification. The “Housing Forward ABQ Plan” included the city council agreeing to allow city sanctioned “Safe Outdoor Spaces” for the homeless, with 2 encampments of 50 allowed in each council district, and allowing the construction of casitas and duplexes as a permissive use on a all existing housing in the city. Naranjo Lopez successfully spearheaded opposition to a Safe Outdoor Space that was to be allowed on city owned property.
Naranjo Lopez says the 3 biggest issue facing District 2 are public safety, homelessness, and quality health care. To address public safety, she proposes a policy mandating increased police hiring and comprehensive training in de-escalation and community policing. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis, she proposes implementing affordable housing initiatives, increasing funding for homeless shelters, and collaborating with community organizations to provide support services. Additionally, she advocates for funding affordable housing and a new facility on the West Side to house and provide essential services to the homeless.
Naranjo Lopez believes that access to quality health care is a fundamental right, and it is imperative that we prioritize this issue. If elected she is committed to advocating for increased funding for health care facilities and programs, particularly in underserved areas of District 2. By ensuring equitable access to health care services, she believes we can improve the overall well-being of residents and reduce the burden on emergency services.
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT JOAQUIN BACA
Progressive Democrat Joaquin Baca is a hydrologist and military veteran. He is the father of twin boys he has raised and he has lived in District 6 off and on since 1996 with breaks when serving in the Army and attending graduate school. He is the President of the ABQ Core Neighborhood Association and an elected member of the Rio Grande Conservancy District.
His campaign manager is paid politcal consultant Neri Holguin who was Mayor Tim Keller’s campaign manager when Keller ran for State Senator, assisted Keller in running for State Auditor and was Keller’s campaign manager when he ran for Mayor. Holguin was also the campaign manager for former Progressive Democrat State Senator Richard Romero who ran against then Democrat Mayor Marty Chavez in 2009 thereby splitting the Democratic vote and ensuring the election of Conservative Republican Mayor Richard Berry.
Since the 2009 Mayor’s race, Holguin has become the “go to” campaign consultant for Progressive Democratic Candidates and she exerts great influence over the candidates she elects even after they assume office. Confidential sources have confirmed that Joaquin Baca is Keller’s anointed candidate to replace Progressive Democrat Isaac Benton who is a reliable vote for Mayor Tim Keller’s progressive agenda.
Joaquin Baca says crime and homelessness are the two biggest issues facing the district. He who wants to see more mixed-income housing in the district which he says can be paid for through pursuing public/private partnerships. To reduce homelessness, Baca says the city needs more mixed-income housing in every district, including District 2. To build more housing, he says the city needs more public/private partnerships that leverages federal, local and private dollars for homes, parking and transit.
Joaquin Baca says the city in order to combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, it needs an “all of the above approach”, which directly quotes what Mayor Tim Keller has said is the solution to the city’s homeless crisis. Baca wants to start with fully funding mental health and addiction support services and the immediate scaling up of the Gateway Center, which is identical to what Mayor Keller has said he wants. He says making significant improvements to the Westside Emergency Shelter is a priority.
INDEPENDANT MOISES GONZALEZ
Independent Moises Gonzalez has an English degree from the University of Texas, secondary education degree from the College of Santa Fe specializing in bilingual education, ESL, English and Spanish); He has a film degree from the College of Santa Fe. He lists his occupation as a Documentary Filmmaker and President of MarAbí Productions Inc. He has lived in the District 30 years, he is married to Karla Thornton and the couple have 3 children. Moises Gonzalez is the only non-Democrat on the District 2 ballot is who identifies as an Independent. He has said on his campaign site that the election is “meant to be nonpartisan,” and encouraged collaboration. ”As the saying goes, there are no Republican or Democratic potholes.”
Gonzalez says the lack of permanent, affordable housing is the biggest issue facing the district and he advocates the Housing First model used effectively in several cities around the country as he proclaims every person deserves decent housing. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, he wants to incentivize builders to build affordable housing with the use of city-owned land through MRAs, streamlined permitting, tax break or by greatly increase percentage of affordable housing for market-rate projects and/or higher in-lieu-of payments to go into a municipal building fund.
Although Gonzalez wants to increase housing options in the district, he emphasized permanent housing as being the most crucial. “The city continues to pursue a continuum of care model that attempts to stitch together services and provides emergency shelter but fails to provide adequate permanent housing.” The documentary filmmaker and former teacher suggests following “housing first” models, where people are stabilized in permanent housing before addressing other critical needs like income or substance use treatment, to get that done.
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
Conservative Republican Brook Bassan of District 4 in the Northeast Heights is the only incumbent running for reelection. She has qualified for public financing and was given $40,262 in public financing to run her campaign. Progressive Democrat Abby Foster is looking to unseat the first-term councilor and restore the Democratic Party’s supermajority. Foster is a privately finance candidate. Foster has gone so far as to boast about all her endorsements at debates from Democratic Party elected officials even though the district is considered a Republican stronghold by politcal observers.
Foster’s campaign is also being managed by Neri Holguin who was Mayor Keller’s campaign manager for State Senate, she headed up the Measured Finance Committee that raised upwards of $1 million to get Keller elected the first time he ran and she managed Keller’s successful 2021 reelection campaign for Mayor against Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales. Confidential sources have confirmed that Abby Foster is indeed Keller’s anointed candidate to replace Republican Brook Bassan.
Both candidates told the League of Women Voters of Central New Mexico that their top priority is reducing crime. While both property and most violent crime in the city fell last year, according to Albuquerque Police Department statistics, homicides increased to an all-time high.
CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN BROOK BASSAN
Republican Brook Bassan has an Associate’s Degree although she initially made the mistake saying she had a bachelors degree, a mistake she apologized for and corrected. Bassan attended the University of New Mexico for one semester but did not graduate. However, she did graduate from ITT Technical Institute in 2007 with an Associate’s Degree. Her husband is Uri Bassan and the couple have 4 children and she lists her occupation as a stay-at-home mom.
Bassan has said that her tough-on-crime approach includes supporting law enforcement and increasing arrests. Bassan wrote in the League’s candidate questionnaire. :
“I will support the end of catch and release, the return of pre-trial detention, strengthening three strikes laws, continuing warrant roundups, and revisiting the details of being an immigrant-friendly city,”
Bassan is endorsed by the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Association.
Bassan has said to combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, the city needs to lean on experts currently assisting the homeless community and give them the resources and tools to expand their services instead of always trying new, unproven ideas. She also says the city needs to provide true behavioral health and drug addiction services, something she believes is currently, significantly lacking in Albuquerque.
As to what, if anything, the City Council can do legislatively to reduce crime, Bassan said APD is struggling and the city needs to focus on enforcing existing laws before adding any new laws. Bassan claims there is a need to getting back to basics, strengthening the city’s enforcement efforts and presence, ending catch and release, and eliminating the culture that crime is acceptable.
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT ABBY FOSTER
Progressive Democrat Abby Foster is a private attorney having earned a Juris Doctor from Penn State Dickinson School of Law in 2008. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in chemistry from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County in 2003 and a Certificate in facilitative mediation at the UNM Law School in 2014. She is married to David David Pardo and they have 2 minor children. She has lived in the District since 2017.
Progressive Democrat Foster has expressed support for increasing the number of cops on the streets in order to make more arrests. She told the League of Women Voters:
“We know that more officers in the community have a deterrent effect on crime. Reducing gun violence is key—as is making sure criminals face swift and certain punishment.”
Studies over the years have not shown that the size or budget of a police force reliably predicts local crime rates. A 2016 review of 62 studies between 1971 and 2013 concluded, “the overall effect size for police force size on crime is negative, small, and not statistically significant.”
Democrat Foster spoke to alternative approaches to reducing crime. She says that the Albuquerque Community Safety Department, which was created two years ago by Mayor Tim Keller and is now the city’s crisis response department, is succeeding by reducing the number of calls to APD. She also advocates for addressing issues that impact crime rates, like making drug treatment more accessible. Increasing housing and reducing gun violence are also issues Foster is campaigning on according to her campaign website.
ABBY FOSTER ALLEGES BROOK BASSAN ENGAGED IN VOTER FRAUD
Abby Foster in the last 9 days of the campaign is alleging that Brook Bassan has engaged in “voter fraud” when Basaans’ city policy analyst Dawn Marie Emilio changed her voter registration to Bassan’s home address in order to support her re-election campaign. According to an ethics complaint that will be filed by a District 4 resident on October 30, Emilio changed her voter registration in April and on June 6, 2023, city records show she signed Councilor Bussan’s District 4 nominating petition for her reelection campaign and contributed $5 towards her public financing effort.
Bassan has denied all wrong doing. Emilio for her part has said she has lived in District 4 on and off for years, even before working for City Councilor Brook Bassan. Emilio previously worked for Councilor Brad Winter who was replaced by Bassan. According to Emilio, Bassan opened her home to her for personal reasons she did not care to disclose and she moved in for a significant period of time.
It’s unknown if the ethics complaint is being generated by a pollical operative and supporter of Foster at the direction of the Foster campaign as a last ditch effort to derail the candidacy of Bassan. From all accounts, there was no wide spread voter fraud as implied by Foster and its likely the accusation is much ado about nothing and will not likely have much impact on the race. Ultimately, it’s the registered voters intent of residency that will be dispositive of the issue and not intent to commit fraud by the candidate. However, it will be weeks until after the election when the ethics complaint will be resolved.
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
Progressive Democrat Pat Davis told the Albuquerque Journal that he’s not running for a third term because he has “a lot of other things going on.” He runs a cannabis consulting firm and also owns several local newspapers.
District 6 has the most crowded race with four candidates with all 4 being progressive Democrats vying to replace Davis. The result is the race will not have any impact the council’s partisan balance.
Progressive Democrats Abel Otero, Jeff Hoehn, Nichole Rogers, Kristin Ravin Greene will all be on the ballot, but only 3 are actually running. Originally, there were 5 candidates who qualified for the ballot, but 2 have now dropped out of the race.
On August 29, dentist Dr. Joseph Potluck Aguirre announced his withdrawal from the race saying he and his family were relocating to another state to carry on with his dental practice.
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT ABEL OTERO
On October 24, Abel Otero announced he would be ending his campaign announcing he would stop “actively campaigning”, but would still be voting for himself. His announcement followed a damaging October 20 front page news story published by the Albuquerque Journal that reported he had no record of prison time he claimed he had served. His personal narrative and claims of struggles with the law, poverty, homelessness, mental illness and drug addiction were central to his campaign for city council.
Links to quoted news sources are here:
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT JEFF HOEHN
Progressive Democrat Jeff Hoehn has a Master of Public Administration from the University of New Mexico, he is married to Charlotte Itoh and the couple have one child. He has lived in the district 21 years. He is the executive director of Cuidando Los Niños, a shelter and school for homeless children. He has identified crime and homelessness as his top concerns for District 6.
Hoehn’s approach to the homeless would differ significantly from Mayor Keller’s large shelters at the Gateway Center and Westside Emergency Housing Center. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, he would fund smaller, population-specific shelters that are attractive and safe for those who want help. He agrees that the Albuquerque Community Safety Department should be a proactive force that is on the streets every day, all day actively encountering individuals who are homeless so that they accept help or choose to relocate.
Hoehn advocates short-term mobile APD command units in high crime areas. He advocates for a dedicated team of police officers that can embed with the community, build trust and make the area unfriendly to criminal activity. His crime proposals lean heavily on police and policing technology to get that done. Hoehn told the League of Woman Voters this:
“I advocate instituting short-term APD mobile command units in high crime areas. … We must be strategic so that officers can spend their time preventing and addressing crime. Technology such as speed cameras has a role to play also.”
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT NICHOLE ROGERS
Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (Basic) and has an Associate of Arts and Sciences in Integrated studies from Central NM Community College (2012). She lists her occupation as a business consultant and financial adviser, She has 2 children, aged 15 and 6 years old and had lived in District 6 for six years.
Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers identifies herself as a Black and Hispanic single mother and survivor of abuse. She has worked for the Mayor Tim Keller Administration as a policy advocate and community organizer and for that reason is considered Mayor Keller’s preferred candidate in the race. Confidential sources have confirmed that Rogers received significant help in collecting nominating petitions signatures and qualifying donations from at least 2 city hall employees who work directly for Mayor Tim Keller. Sources have also confirmed Democrat Progressive County Commissioner Adriann Barboa help collect nominating petitions and qualifying donations for Rogers using voter registration lists. Rogers has gone so far as to tell Democrats privately in the District that she is Mayor Keller’s candidate to replace Progressive Democrat Pat Davis who is a Keller ally.
Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers cited poverty as her top priority if she is elected seeing it as an underlying cause of crime and homelessness. Rogers says too many families do not have what they need to survive much less thrive. Rogers says short-term solutions include getting the Gateway Homeless shelter open and functioning and the long-term solution is addressing poverty. She vows to work to implement a Universal Income pilot that will provide families with the financial boost they need. To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, Rogers wants to increase the number of shelter beds as a short-term solution and from there increase “wrap-around services” to get the unhoused in permanent supportive services that will help them stay housed.
Rogers said this:
“Too many families don’t have what they need to survive, much less thrive. “I know what it takes to make ends meet, to struggle for a safe home for your family, and to navigate social systems.”
PROGRESSIVE DEMOCRAT KRISTIN “RAVEN” GREENE
Progressive Democrat Kristin “Raven” Greene identifies herself as a self-employed independent contractor and freelance writer. In own campaign web site she describes herself as a tattoo artist and former Burlesque dancer. She has no spouse and no kids and has lived in District 6 approximately 17 years.
Greene, who goes by Raven Del Rio but will appear on the ballot with her legal name, has economic development in her own neighborhood of the International District at the top of her to-do list, as well. Green says the biggest issue facing district 6 is “disenfranchisement and lack of economic investment in District 6 are the root of many issues we’re facing in our communities. She advocates creation of Opportunity Zones, supporting Main Street initiatives, and backing small business grant initiatives to bolster health development to revitalize the Districts commercial corridors and neighborhoods, bringing more equity to our district.
As for what she would you do to combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, she says moving to a housing first model and smaller satellite shelters serving different demographics versus the city’s current a mega-shelter approach will serve the population better with less impact on surrounding neighborhoods. She advocates weeding out redundancies in services and creating a process or dashboard that all providers have access to streamline the process of connecting the unhoused to services.
“Systemic neglect over the past five decades has created the dereliction we see today,” she said in a campaign video. She proposes economic investment in the district beyond social services, like the mayor’s Gateway Center. “We need amenities, we need groceries, we need walkable streets and green spaces,” she said.
DISTRICT 8 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS AND FOOTHILLS)
In City Council District 8, which has been a conservative voice on the council for Jones’ four terms and several before that, could change hands politically with a Republican and Democrat vying for the seat. The demographics for the district has changes to reflect a slight Democratic majority, but the district still tends to vote Republican. Jones joked to the Journal last year that she’s stepping aside because she’s “old and grumpy.”
As the longtime city council conservative Trudy Jones elected not to run for a fifth term, voters in the northeast foothills will decide between Moderate Democrat Idalia Lechuga-Tena and Conservative Republican Daniel Champine. Both candidates identified crime as the top priority for the council post, and both see additional police with better support as the way to get there.
MODERATE DEMOCRAT IDALIA LECHUGA-TENA
Moderate Democrat Idalia Lechuga-Tena is a graduate of the University of New Mexico with a B.A. Economics and B.A. Political science with a concentration in International politics. She is a naturalized citizen and has published academic research about immigration. She speaks 4 languages: English, Spanish, French and Italian.
She worked for Mayor Marty Chavez directly out of the Mayor’s office and she is now self-employed and is married. She has served as an New Mexico State Representative for the SE Heights International Neighborhood District after nominated and selected by the Bernalillo County Commission. She has been extensively involved with the District 8 Neighborhood Coalition having served as the chairperson and the areas Community Policing Council. Lechuga-Tena has lived in the Northeast Heights most of her adult life but moved into her husband’s home when the couple got married five years ago.
Lechuga-Tena essentially secured all of her qualifying nominating petition signatures and qualifying donations on her own by going “door to door” for months talking to voters and answering questions. She had little or no assistance from others nor Democratic party officials when she gathered nominating signatures and the $5 qualifying donations to secure public financing.
Lechuga-Tena says the biggest issues facing District 8 are crime and homelessness. More specifically, she says property crime, retail crime, addiction and behavioral health are major issues confronting District 8. She wants to provide appropriate resources to police, enforce laws already on the books in order to make families safe.
What she would do to reduce crime is to bring a diversion program used successfully in Miami-Dade County to help with homelessness, addiction, and behavioral health problems. She described the diversion program as “a one-stop shop for addiction, psychiatric services for homeless people with acute mental illnesses who are in the criminal justice system or at risk of entering it.”
To combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, Lechuga-Tena says the city needs better paying jobs for working families. She also advocated programs like Homewise to help families get into and stay in homes. She believes Albuquerqueans with behavioral health and addiction problems need to get the help they need to get them off the streets and that her proposed diversion and treatment program will address those needs.
As a former state legislator, Lechuga-Tena says the City Council can do things to reduce crime including the city investing in community policing and support first responders with advanced opportunities, higher pay, and incentives. She wants to fully staff APD and have strong police presence everywhere. She wants to close the “revolving door” in courts and fix a broken criminal justice system by working with the New Mexico Legislature. Lechuga-Tena advocates for community policing strategies to “build a trust-based relationship between officers and residents,” according to her campaign site. To her, officer support means “advancement opportunities and higher pay.”
REPUBLICAN DANIEL CHAMPINE
Republican Daniel Champine is a Highland High School graduate and attended the University of New Mexico. Champine became an Albuquerque Police Officer at the age of 21 and served 22 years on the force before retiring. While an APD police officer, he served as a detective and served with the helicopter unit. He also served as the Vice President of the Albuquerque Police Officers Association. Champine is currently employed full time as a “mortgage lender” and he has lived in the district “going on two years.”
Champine has the support of retiring Conservative Republican City Councilor Trudy Jones with the Republican party being instrumental in securing sufficient nominating petition signatures and qualifying donations for him. Confidential sources have also confirmed he was actively solicited to run for city councilor by Conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez who is also a retired Albuquerque Police Officer.
Champine advocates “to end the revolving door that is catch and release.” On his campaign site, he said the city has been “taken over” by a “culture of lawlessness,” adding that he believes, “the lack of support for our officers by the current political leadership has created an exodus of officers leaving the Albuquerque Police Department and made recruiting extraordinarily difficult.”
According to Champine, crime is clearly the biggest issue facing both District 8 and the city. He says the city council must ensure that our police are fully funded and allowed to do their jobs. He says “first and foremost, criminals must be held accountable for their destructive behavior. This is done by allowing, and supporting, law enforcement to effectively do their job. Next, we must end “catch and release.”
Champine says he will focus on funding basic services first, like police and fire protection, as well as improving our quality of life. He asserts the Keller administration has focused on wasteful pet projects, like building new soccer stadium Downtown and expanding the city bureaucracy while basic services have suffered.
Champine says the city council should “repeal our Sanctuary City law” to make it more difficult for cartels to operate in our city. The blunt truth is that the city council has never enacted legislation declaring the the city a Sanctuary City and no Mayor has ever declared the city a Sanctuary City. Albuquerque is considered an “immigrant friendly” city, meaning services are offered and provided, but it is symbolic in nature.
As for what Champine would you do to combat homelessness and the housing crisis in the city, he has said the city must have a multi-faceted approach that provides “hand-ups, not hand-outs”. That means providing help to those struggling through difficult times and/or suffering from mental health issues. He says we can no longer tolerate destructive behavior and must enforce city laws to maintain public safety and protect our quality of life.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
There is little doubt that the November 7 municipal election will reshape the Albuquerque City Council to an extent with 4 of the 9 seats to be decided. Technically, city races are nonpartisan as mandated by the New Mexico Constitution. Notwithstanding candidates for city council and for Mayor are always identified by the media with their party affiliations. The political parties always get involved with the races as do elected officials with endorsements. The upcoming election will determine if the partisan balance of the council remains the same, stays only slightly left leaning, or becomes even more conservative.
Following the 2021 election, Democrats moved from having a two-thirds majority with 6 seats to a 5 to 4 majority, with Republican Dan Lewis defeating Democratic incumbent Cynthia Borrego in District 5. Additionally, District 1 on Albuquerque’s Westside became more far more conservative when conservative Democrat Louis Sanchez ousted Progressive Democrat Lan Sena, who Mayor Tim Keller Keller had appointed to the position in 2020 after the death of longtime Democratic City Councilor Ken Sanchez.
The current city council after the 2021 municipal election when the Democratic majority shrank rehashed some of Mayor Tim Keller’s progressive policies, including repealing a ban on plastic bags. It also debated the zero-fares bus pilot program started January 1, 2022, for months, eventually electing to keep the program with stepped-up security. A proposal to make the program permanent is scheduled to be heard next month.
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 have inserted themselves into the races for city council when they should have kept 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 has taken 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. Keller has already made it known to top aides he intends to run for a third 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 and who are indebted to Mayor Tim Keller. 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 nor to placate the Mayor. 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. 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.