The race for Albuquerque mayor became a major focus for a group of Democrats, one Republican and one independent over the weekend.
On Saturday, a group of Democrats spoke about their respective visions of what the next mayor of Albuquerque should focus on, while Republican City Councilor Dan Lewis officially announced his intention to run for the city’s top office on Sunday afternoon.
Lewis told supporters gathered at the business incubator Fat Pipe ABQ that he will focus on public safety, economic development and education.
More specifically, Lewis said he wants the city to hire roughly 300 police officers under new leadership at the Albuquerque Police Department.
As for paying for more police officers to bring the APD street officer total to 1,200 cops, Lewis suggested that the department could cut “duplications” in dispatch and instead focus on “one professional dispatch center.”
Lewis added that APD must “get ahead of the [federal Department of Justice] reforms” rather than being “dragged” into them by the federal government and the courts. He criticized current APD leadership for their “defensiveness” when it comes to following the DOJ consent decree, which was imposed on APD in 2014 after the federal government found that the agency’s use of force practices violated the U.S. Constitution.
“I want to make sure we have reformers in that department, leaders and reformers who are absolutely committed to being here until that department is changed, until it’s effective, until we’re the kind of department that everybody is going to be proud of,” Lewis told NM Political Report, noting that this may mean a new APD chief.
Lewis is not seeking public financing for his campaign.
On Saturday, at an event hosted by Progress Now NM*, five Democrats each took five minutes to pitch their “big idea” to the crowd.
Deanna Archuleta, a former Bernalillo County commissioner who officially announced her run for mayor last year, took aim at Mayor Richard Berry’s administration, saying Berry does not collaborate enough with Albuquerque residents.
“I’d love to say I have all the ideas and I’m the brightest person in the room,” Archuleta said. “The fact is, everyone of you out there has great wonderful ideas and those ideas need to be able to percolate up to the mayor’s office instead of pushing out neighborhood associations, which we found has happened in this administration.”
Former APD detective Michelle Garcia Holmes, an independent, also officially announced her candidacy for mayor on Sunday. Garcia Holmes also previously served as chief of staff for former Attorney General Gary King, a Democrat.
Independent candidate Stella Padilla, a vocal opponent of the controversial Albuquerque Rapid Transit project (ART), is also running for mayor.
Other Democrats on Saturday stopped short of officially announcing their candidacy, but spoke about their qualifications and which areas the next mayor should focus on.
Former Albuquerque Chief Public Safety Officer Pete Dinelli, who has not officially announced a run for mayor, told NM Political Report he is looking at his funding options before making a final decision. On Saturday, he criticized Berry’s office for a lack of leadership with the police department and focused on ART.
“A big step towards Democratic core values is allowing the people of Albuquerque to actually vote on major construction projects,” Dinelli said. “What a novel idea, people voting on construction projects.”
In 2013 Dinelli, who also previously served as a city councilor, lost in a three-way race for mayor against incumbent Berry and retired police officer Paul Heh. Berry is not seeking a third term as mayor.
Albuquerque City Councilor Ken Sanchez also criticized Berry for not being active enough with the police department.
“Mayor Berry has hid in a bunker for the last eight years,” Sanchez said Saturday.
Sanchez focused on bolstering the city’s police department by hiring new, young recruits as police service aides then allowing them to become police officers.
“If we have a safe community we will have a prosperous city,” Sanchez said.
Lewis is also campaigning on this idea.
Albuquerque attorney Brian Colon is expected to announce his candidacy for mayor later this week. On Saturday, Colon told the audience of attendees that the mayor’s office should take a more active role in working with Albuquerque Public Schools.
“The mayor’s office can no longer take a hall pass and say, ‘It’s not my sandbox to talk about education in Albuquerque,’” Colon said. “APS is the mayor’s sandbox and if you’re not sitting in the middle of it then you’re not the mayor of the city of Albuquerque.”
Colon ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2010 after securing the Democratic Party nomination for the position. Before then, he chaired the state Democratic Party.
New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller also has not officially announced a run for mayor but still mentioned his “campaign” a few times on Saturday. Keller proposed that the City of Albuquerque issue industrial revenue bonds to help existing small, local businesses instead of enticing out-of-state companies to relocate to New Mexico.
Keller posed the question, “What if we actually create one more job for every small business for every non-profit?”
“It is 10 times more helpful to our economy than any company we’re going to bring from out of state,” Keller said of his proposal.
The mayoral election is in October, but financial disclosure and petition signature deadlines are in the next two months.
Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson previously told NM Political Report he intends to run for mayor, but has yet to make an official announcement.
Since there is no primary election for the mayoral race, if no candidate gets support of a majority of voters in the October election, a runoff election between the two candidates that receive the most votes will determine the winner in November.
*ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for NM Political Report. No one in the organization has any input in the editorial process of this or any other story.