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 City Clerk has posted on its city web page the election calendar and information for all candidates.
The 2023 Regular Local Election Calendar for candidates began on April 30 with an “exploratory period” to allow candidates to organize and collect “seed money” donations and ended on June 4.
THE PETITION SIGNATURE NOMINATING PROCESS AND THE $5 QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTION PERIOD FOR PUBLIC FINANXING BEGAN ON JUNE 5 AND ENDS ON JULY 10, 2023.
The November 7 municipal election will remake the 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 and 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 and thus far she is running unopposed. The city council’s five other seats will not be decided again until 2025 and will include the Mayor’s race. Mayor Tim Keller has told at least 2 of his closest aides in the Mayor’s office that he is running for a third term. There are no term limits for city councilor nor the Mayor.
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. Mayor Tim Keller is also proclaiming that the city is suffering from a low income housing crisis with the city in need of 13,000 to 30,000 new housing units as he proposes what he calls “transformative changes” to the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO) to allow construction of casitas and duplexes on virtually all residential property within the city to increase density and motels conversions where the city buys existing motels and converts them to low income housing.
Known candidates listed on the City Clerks web page as of June 5 include the following candidates listed:
DISTRICT 2 (DOWNTOWN, OLD TOWN, PARTS OF THE NORTH VALLEY AND WEST SIDE)
- Joaquin Baca, Democrat, a hydrologist and elected member of the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District who intends to seek public financing.
- Loretta Naranjo Lopez, Democrat, a retired city planner and current member of the New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association Board who intends to seek public financing.
- Moises A. Gonzalez (No other information immediately available)
DISTRICT 4 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS)
- Brook Bassan, Republican, a stay-at-home mom and incumbent councilor who intends to seek public financing
DISTRICT 6 (NOB HILL, INTERNATIONAL DISTRICT)
- Jeff Hoehn, Democrat, a nonprofit executive director who intends to seek public financing.
- Abel Otero, Democrat, a barber who intends to seek public financing.
- Joseph Pitluck Aguirre, Independent, a dentist and software development. company owner who intends to run a privately financed campaign.
- Kristin Greene (No other information immediately available)
- Jonathan Ryker Juarez (No other information immediately available)
- Nichole Rogers (No other information immediately available)
- Kristin “Raven” Greene (https://raven4d6.com/)
DISTRICT 8 (NORTHEAST HEIGHTS AND FOOTHILLS)
- Dan Champine, Republican, a retired police officer and current mortgage lender who intends to seek public financing
- Idalia Lechuga-Tena, Democrat, a consultant and former state representative who intends to seek public financing
The link to the City clerk’s website listing candidates is here:
QUESTIONS AND ISSUES
All too often, city council races are ignored by many voters and the campaigns do not really heat up until the very last month of the campaign. Most city council races are won with direct voter contact and candidates going “door to door” looking for support and votes. Before signing any petitions or donating to candidates, voters should know where candidates stand on the major issues they care about and what they will do if elected.
A few questions and issues candidates for City Council need to think about and disclose their positions on include the following:
BACKGROUND: Two New Mexico County Commissions and 3 municipalities have pass 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.
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
BACKGROUND: 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.
1. 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 by any retail business that sells AR-15-style rifles and prohibiting the sales magazines with more than 10 rounds?
2. 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
BACKGROUND: 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?
- 2. 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 or 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 as found by a court of law relying on existing state laws for such commitment hearings where due process of law is followed and representation is required by law?
D. SANCTUARY CITY VERSUS IMMIGRANT FRIENDLY CITY
BACKGROUND: On May 9, 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.
1. Should the city of Albuquerque provide housing or services to migrants seeking asylum and to what extent?
BACKGROUND: 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. 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.
2. Albuquerque’s “immigrant-friendly” designation welcomes immigrants to the city and is mainly symbolic. Should the city remain an immigrant friendly city as defined by city ordinance?
CITY GOVERNMENT AND SERVICES
1.Should the current Mayor-City Council form of government where the Mayor is the Chief executive officer who appoints department directors to manage the city and the City Council is the legislative policy making body be replaced with a City Council – City Manager form of government where the Mayor would be a nonvoting member of the city council with no veto authority with all the Mayor’s executive functions vested in a council appointed city manager?
2. 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?
3. On March 24, 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?
4. Are you in favor of a state “right to work statute” that would impact or eliminate city employee unions,
5. Should city unions be prohibited from endorsing candidates for municipal office?
6. 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?
7. 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?
8. Are you in favor of the city bus transit be free at charge to the general public?
CITY PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT
BACKGROUND: On October 18, 2022 Mayor Tim Keller announced his “Housing Forward ABQ” plan. It is a “multifaceted initiative” where Mayor Keller is hoping to add 5,000 new housing units across the city by 2025 above and beyond what private industry normally creates each year. “Motel conversions” are a major component of Keller’s “Housing Forward Abq” plan and is where the City’s Family & Community Services Department acquires and renovates existing motels to develop low-income affordable housing. Mayor Keller wants to add as many as 1,000 housing units with motel conversions, with the city’s own estimated costs for remodeling being $100,000 per unit.
1.Are you in favor of motel conversions and if so to what extent should the city council be involved with approving the acquisitions?
BACKGROUND: 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.
2. 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?
3. Are you in favor of amending the Integrated Development Ordinance toallow the construction of both 750 square-foot “casitas” and “duplex” additions in the backyards of all 120,000 residential lots that have existing homes in an attempt to increase density?
4. Should “casitas” and “duplex” additions be a “conditional use” requiring an application process with the city Planning Department, notice to surrounding property owners and affected neighborhood associations and provides for appeal rights? Should they 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?
5. 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?
6. To what extent should adjoining property owners and neighborhood associations have the right to contest and appeal changes in zoning permissive and conditional uses?
7. 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?
8. 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?
9. Should the City of Albuquerque seek the repeal by the New Mexico legislature of laws that prohibit city annexation of property without county approval?
APD AND CRIME:
BACKGROUND: 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 of 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)
1. 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.The Albuquerque City Council plays a crucial oversight role of the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) including approving its budget. What oversight role do you believe the Albuquerque City Council should play when it come to the Albuquerque Police Department (APD)?
3. Should the City seek to renegotiate or set aside the terms and conditions of the Court Approved Settlement Agreement (CASA) and if so why?
4. What would you do to enhance civilian oversight of APD and the implementation of the Department of Justice mandated reforms?
5. 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?
6. 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?
7. APD currently has 980 sworn police. What are your plans for increasing APD staffing levels and what should those staffing levels be?
8. What are your plans or solutions to bringing down high property and violent crime rates in Albuquerque or your district?
9. Should APD personnel or APD resources be used in any manner to enforce federal immigration laws and assist federal immigration authorities?
10. 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?
11. 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?
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.
BACKGROUND: The 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 proposed 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.
10. Do you feel Economic Development Department department is adequately funded and if not what funding levels and personnel staff do you feel is needed?
1.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?
2. 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?
3. What should the City do to help reduce high school dropout rates?
4. What education resources should or can the City make available to the Albuquerque school system?
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?
1. Do you feel Mayor Tim Keller has done a good job, do you support his agenda as Mayor and has he endorsed your candidacy?
2. If you qualify 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?
3. 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?
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.
The City Clerk has already posted on its city web page the election calendar and information for all candidates. The 2023 Regular Local Election Calendar for candidates begins on April 30 with an “exploratory period” to allow candidates to organize and collect “seed money” donations and ends on June 4. The petition for signatures and qualifying contribution period begins on June 5 and ends on July 10, 2023.
ELIGIBILITY: In order to become a candidate, a person must be registered to vote in, and physically reside in, the district they seek to represent by August 9, 2023. Any changes to voter registration must be effective on August 9, 2023. How a name appears on ballots cannot be changed at the time of candidate filing.
NOMINATING PETTIONS: A candidate for City Council must collect 500 signatures from registered voters within the district the candidate wishes to represent. The City Clerk’s Office encourages candidates to collect more petitions signatures than required. Though signatures collected on the website will be validated as registered voters, signatures collected on paper forms will need to be verified as registered voters in the candidate’s district by the City Clerk’s Office once you submit them. Because individuals don’t always know their registration status, it’s possible that a number of the signatures you collect may not count towards the total required. A Council Candidate may collect petition signatures from 8:00am on June 5 through 5:00pm on July 10.
Candidates for City Council can be either publicly financed or privately financed.
PUBLIC FINANCING: Candidates can qualify city public financing by securing $5 qualifying donations from registered who live in the district. The public finance candidate must agree to a cap and agree that is all they can spend. Candidates are required to collect qualifying contributions from 1% of the registered voters in the district they wish to represent. The number changes based on the district a candidate is running in. City public financing can be between $40,000 to $50,000 depending on the 1% of registered voters in the District. City Council candidates may collect qualifying contributions from 8:00am on June 5 through 5:00pm on July 10.
PRIVATE FINANCING: There is no cap on what a privately finance candidate can spend on their campaigns. A privately financed candidate may give themselves an unlimited amount of money to spend on their campaigns. However, another individual may only donate up to a certain amount. For a City Council candidate, an individual may only donate up to $1,683.00.
MEASURE FINANCE COMMITTEE: A Measure Finance Committee is a political committee, person or group that supports or opposes a candidate or ballot measure within the City of Albuquerque. Measure Finance Committees must register with the City Clerk, regardless of the group’s registration as a PAC with another governmental entity. Measure Finance Committees must also file financial statements at the same times that candidates report. Measure Finance Committees are not bound by the individual contribution limits and business bans like candidates. However, a Measure Finance Committee that supports or opposes a measure and receives aggregate contributions in excess of 30% of the Mayor’s salary from one individual or entity, must incorporate the donor’s name into the name of the committee. For 2023 Measure Finance Committees, that threshold number is: $39,750.00.
The links to the city clerk’s web pages are here: