New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller officially announced his run for Albuquerque mayor Wednesday. Keller issued a statement in the morning saying he would focus on the city’s economy and reforming the Albuquerque Police Department. “Albuquerque is my home – I was born and raised here – and this is where my wife and I are raising our family,” Keller said in a press release. “I’m running for mayor because I believe, together, we can meet these challenges head on and build a safe, inclusive and innovative city that works for all of us.”
If elected mayor, Keller would leave an open spot in the auditor’s office, which would be filled by appointment from Gov. Susana Martinez. Later in the day, Keller told NM Political Report he is not concerned about leaving his current position if elected mayor.
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.
An issue with the Albuquerque city charter that allowed a mayoral candidate to run for office without making it official could have been addressed months ago. Former Bernalillo County Commissioner Deanna Archuleta announced earlier this year she would run for mayor in 2017, but there was no way to file as an official candidate. Her campaign started fundraising about a year before the city filing process starts. During a city council meeting earlier this year, on May 2, Councilor Don Harris called to withdraw two bills he previously sponsored. One of the proposals included new language in the city charter that would update the definition of a candidate.
There is not an official candidate for mayor of Albuquerque in next year’s election. But that’s only because there is no way for a candidate to become official yet. Deanna Archuleta, a former Bernalillo County Commissioner, announced earlier this year she intends to run for Mayor of Albuquerque in 2017. Since her announcement she has held at least one public fundraiser, but has not filed any campaign finance information—largely because there’s no place to do it yet. The Albuquerque City Clerk’s office does not currently have any procedure in place for candidates starting their campaign early.
As we have seen in the current presidential race and in recent local elections, big money still dominates the way we fund campaigns at all levels. From the Koch brothers spending millions in the Republican presidential primary to the Santolina developers spending tens of thousands in the recent Bernalillo County Commission Democratic primary, powerful wealthy individuals and organizations seek to influence elections by spending big money in campaigns. But we have a chance to reduce that influence in next year’s mayoral race. On an 8-1 vote, the Albuquerque City Council recently passed legislation to make the City’s public financing program workable again. Our thanks go to City Councilors Don Harris and Pat Davis* for reaching across the aisle to fix the current system, which was originally approved by about 69 percent of the voters in 2005.