December 28, 2017

2017 Top Stories #2: Keller wins ABQ mayoral race

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Andy Lyman

Tim Keller during the first round of voting in the Albuquerque mayoral election in October, 2017.

There’s no doubt the Albuquerque mayoral election stole headlines at NM Political Report this year. The list of candidates was long and at least one candidate got a significant head start raising money.  By April, 15 candidates announced their intention to run for mayor.

In October, eight candidates faced off, and the top two would head to a one-on-one runoff election, unless one candidate received 50 percent of the vote. None did, and State Auditor Tim Keller faced off against Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis in the runoff election.

See all of our year-end stories

Keller easily won the final runoff election in November, riding a growing nationwide Democratic wave. A Democrat even won Lewis’ city council district in the runoff election as well, giving Democrats a 6-3 majority on the officially non-partisan council.

Keller didn’t waste time making changes to the office and appointing his staff—which was good because he only had a few weeks between his election and inauguration. Days before he was sworn in,Keller announced a new police chief and implemented sweeping changes to the department. With his new police chief, Michael Geier, beside him, Keller also apologized to the city for the department’s previous excessive use of force. Keller also said, the structural change within the Albuquerque Police Department will ensure compliance with the Department of Justice decree. While his critics have been relatively quiet since his win, Keller may still see political attacks going forward. The financial backers of the controversial Santolina development emerged as a prominent bankroller of a high dollar campaign against Keller. Even now as he sits as mayor, there is a pending ethics complaint against his campaign for failing to report legal services as expenditures from his campaign account. Keller maintains that he paid for his lawyers personally and not from his campaign.

As a former state auditor with a Master of Business Administration degree, Keller also publicly leaned into an apparent budget shortfall he inherited, which means he’ll be dealing with a $10 million budget shortfall

But the guy knows how to have fun, too. A now well known heavy metal music fan and an advocate for a robust local music scene, Keller showed up at an Albuquerque metal show days after he won to introduce the band Trivium.