In his annual State of the City Address Mayor Richard Berry said Albuquerque is showing signs of improvement economically and praised that the city came together to support the city’s police officers in recent weeks.
Berry devoted a significant portion of the address to issues regarding criminal justice and what he will be advocating for during this year’s legislative session, such as a constitutional amendment to allow judges to deny bail for some arrested for crimes and an expansion of the state’s “three strikes” law.
He also acknowledged the recent bad press the city has received in recent weeks after a four-year old was killed in a road rage accident and a day later an Albuquerque Police Department officer was killed while on duty.
Berry also called for the state Legislature to add police officers to the list of protected classes in state hate crime legislation and to pass legislation that would allow cities to institute curfew laws for juveniles.
For Albuquerque residents, Berry called on them to reach out to officers and let them know they are supported by the public.
Berry described Albuquerque was a city on the rise from the depths of the recession, which saw the city lose 29,000 jobs between 2007 and 2011. The mayor said that since the end of the recession, Albuquerque has gained 13,500 jobs.
“We’re not there yet, we’re not spiking the football,” Berry said. “But the economy is improving.”
“Year over year job gains, which we track, are really encouraging,” he said.
He also said that the city has seen the best numbers in years on gross receipts taxes, which could be an indicator of recovery.
He also said that the downtown area of Albuquerque is on the rebound, citing a grocery store and efforts to get more people to go to Civic Plaza as reasons to be encouraged.
“With the investments we are making it is no wonder that hundreds of jobs are moving downtown, including Molina and National American University,” Berry said.
“People want to come downtown, we know that,” he said.
He also spoke about what has become one of his bigger efforts in his second term, addressing homelessness. He again touted the There’s a Better Way campaign as a way to stop panhandling in the city and said dozens of other cities called to ask about the program.
Because of this and other initiatives, Berry said, the city is on track to end homelessness among veterans by the end of the year.
Overall, Berry painted the picture of a city on the rebound.
“We’re back on good, solid fiscal ground,” Berry said. “The economy’s starting to improve, starting to add jobs.”