On January 8, the newly elected Albuquerque City Council held its first meeting. Its very first vote was to elect new City Council Officers of President and Vice President. Historically, the party with the majority elects officers that are in the majority. Notwithstanding Democrats holding a 5-4 majority on the City Council, Conservative Republican Dan Lewis was elected City Council President and Conservative Republican Renee Grout was elected Vice President. Moderate Democrat District 3 Councilor Klarissa Peña was elected as the chairwoman for the Committee of the Whole. The Committee of the Whole is considered the most important of all standing committees with all 9 councilors assigned to discuss and hold hearings on the annual budgets and capital improvements proposed by the mayor.
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CONSERVATIVE CITY COUNCIL
The City Council is split with 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans as follows:
District 1 Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez
District 2 Progressive Democrat Joaquin Baca
District 3 Moderate Democrat Klarissa Peña
District 6 Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers
District 7 Progressive Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn
District 5 Conservative Republican Dan Lewis
District 4 Conservative Republican Brook Bassan
District 8 Conservative Republican Dan Champine
District 9 Conservative Republican Renee Grout
Although the new City Council is split with 5 Democrats and 4 Republicans, Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez has often allied himself with conservative Republicans Dan Lewis, Renee Grout, and Brook Bassan who are still on the council and newly elected Conservative Republican Dan Champine is expected to join them in allowing them to approve or kill measures on a 5-4 vote but being unable to override Mayor Tim Keller’s veto’s with the required 6 votes.
MAYOR KELLER’S INVOLVEMENT IN CITY COUNCIL RACES
Mayor Tim Keller became actively involved and behind the scenes in the campaigns of 3 Progressive Democrat city council candidates in the 2023 municipal elections. The candidates who had the full support of Mayor Tim Keller were Progressive Democrats Abby Foster, Joaquin Baca and Nichole Rogers. Keller’s own campaign manager, politcal advisor and confidant Neri Holguin was the paid politcal consultant for Progressive Democrat Abby Foster, who lost to Incumbent Brook Bassan and Joaquin Baca, who prevailed over his two opponents to win without a runoff.
Mayor Keller was also involved with the campaign of Nichole Rogers. She had worked for the Mayor Tim Keller as a policy advocate and community organizer. Confidential sources 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. Rogers also went so far as to tell Progressive Democrats privately in the District that she was Mayor Keller’s candidate to replace Progressive Democrat Pat Davis who is a Keller ally.
Keller political consultant Neri Holguin initially was involved with the Rogers campaign. It was Holguin who called Jeff Hoehn and told him in no uncertain terms not to run for city council, that he could not win and that Mayor Keller would not support him and that Keller wanted a person of color for the district. Holguin also headed up the measured finance committee and solicited donations for it that published a number of negative and misleading politcal hit pieces against Jeff Hoehn in the runoff.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
Least anyone forget, it was in 2017 that the dynamic duo of Tim Keller and Dan Lewis ran against each other in a runoff for Mayor. Then State Auditor Tim Keller, a mere one year into his 4-year term as State Auditor announced he was running for Mayor. Then Republican District 5 City Councilor Dan Lewis gave up his seat after serving 2 terms on the city council to run for Mayor. Keller won the 2017 runoff by a decisive landslide by securing 60,219 votes or 62.20% against Dan Lewis who secured 36,594 or 37.8% of the vote.
When Keller was first elected as Mayor in 2017, he enjoyed having a super majority of 6 Democrats to 3 Republicans which allowed him to enact a very progressive agenda with the help of Progressive Democrats Pat Davis and Isaac Benton. In 2021, Conservative Republican Dan Lewis was again elected to the City Council by beating moderate Democrat Cynthia Borrego, who has since been elected a state representative, which reduced the council majority to 5 to 4. Once returning to the city council, Lewis attempted to repeal many Keller initiatives, including a tax increase, repeal of the plastic bag ban and increasing the Mayors authority to issue emergency public health orders. Lewis quickly made it known privately to his supporters his intent to run for Mayor again in 2025. From the very get go of his return to the city council, Lewis has been as disruptive as possible on the city council in order to generate the news coverage he so covets to run for Mayor again in 2025. For the past two years Lewis has been the biggest critic of Mayor Tim Keller.
Mayor Tim Keller has already made it known privately he intends to run for a third term in 2025. Now that Conservative Republican Dan Lewis is President, expect him to use his position as much as possible to oppose and disrupt Keller’s progressive agenda with the help of District 1 Conservative Democrat Louie Sanchez and perhaps even District 3 Moderate Democrat Klarissa Peña. As President, Lewis appoints the chairs of the council committees and expect him to appoint conservatives. Also complicating things for Keller is that Conservative Republican Brook Bassan no doubt harbors strong resentment towards Mayor Keller for his involvement in her re election and his support of Progressive Democrat Abby Foster who ran a very negative campaign and who almost beat Bassan.
It is more likely than not that District 2 Progressive Democrat Joaquin Baca, District 6 Progressive Democrat Nichole Rogers and District 7 Progressive Democrat Tammy Fiebelkorn will be marginalized to a great extent by the conservative majority. All 3 will be viewed as Mayor Tim Keller’s “rubber stamp trio” and essentially be relegated to being observers on the council and getting very little accomplished on their own without a working majority.
A link to a related blog article is here:
“Dynamic Duo Of Failure” Exchange Competing Guest Columns In ABQ Journal; Prelude To Another Mayor’s Race Between Mayor Tim Keller and City Councilor Dan Lewis In 2025; Examining The Failed Records Of Tim Keller and Dan Lewis