The “groundbreaking research” Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry commissioned on crime — the city’s No. 1 issue — may sit on a shelf unused when his successor takes office Dec. 1. Why? The two candidates headed for a mayoral runoff election next month, two-term Republican city councilor Dan Lewis and Democratic state Auditor Tim Keller, said the information about crime concentration likely won’t guide their crime-fighting plans if elected.
Albuquerque’s mayoral runoff election is a month away and so far the two campaigns have stayed relatively quiet. But an upcoming ethics hearing and the city’s public finance rules could make the runoff election more complicated or at least open the door for more attack ads, particularly against State Auditor Tim Keller. Originally scheduled for Oct. 12, an ethics hearing for a complaint against Keller was moved to only a few days before the Nov. 14 runoff election—and well after early voting starts.
Albuquerque voters came out in numbers not seen in a decade for Tuesday’s election. A total of 97,419 voters, or 29.01 percent of registered voters, cast ballots in the election that saw Tim Keller and Dan Lewis head to a runoff and defeated the Healthy Workforce Ordinance in a razor-thin vote. Four incumbent city councilors won reelection, while a fifth district will find out its next councilor in a runoff election on Nov. 14, the same day as the mayoral runoff. Just under 97,000 people voted in the mayoral election this year.
New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller led all mayoral candidates with 39.35 percent of the votes Tuesday night in the Albuquerque race for mayor, but will still face Albuquerque City Councilor Dan Lewis in a runoff election next month. Lewis beat out Albuquerque attorney Brian Colón for second place by about 6.5 percentage points according to unofficial results with all 53 voting centers reporting. Keller would have needed to get 50 percent of the votes to avoid a runoff election. Keller spoke to a couple hundred supporters outside his campaign headquarters with about half of the votes counted, but enough to show him with a clear lead. Keller thanked his family, campaign staff and the handful or organizations that endorsed him.
As we have done with big election nights in recent years, we will be providing live updates on the Albuquerque municipal elections all night. The big race, of course, is to see who will be the next mayor. It’s not considered likely that any candidate will get the 50 percent needed to avoid a runoff in November. The liveblog below will update automatically, no need to refresh.
Dozens of voting locations around Albuquerque opened this morning for the municipal election, which will determine who the top two contenders for mayor are in addition to the outcome of four city council races and whether businesses will have to provide paid sick leave to employees. The race for mayor has received the most attention, though it’s very unlikely Albuquerque residents will know who their next mayor will be by tonight. Don’t know where to vote? Look it up here. The city election code requires a runoff election if no candidate receives more than 50 percent of votes.
In the race for Albuquerque mayor, Tim Keller is in the lead, while Dan Lewis is now in second, according to a new poll for Albuquerque Journal by Research and Polling, Inc.
The poll shows 29 percent of likely voters support Keller, currently the State Auditor, while Lewis, an Albuquerque city councilor, is in second with 18 percent. Former Democratic Party of New Mexico chairman Brian Colón is in third place with 14 percent while Bernalillo County Commission Wayne Johnson has the support of ten percent of those polled. No other candidate has more than five percent support. If no candidate receives the support of 50 percent of voters after votes are tallied Tuesday, the top two vote-getters will head to a runoff election in November. Eighteen percent described themselves as undecided, a sizable number for days ahead of the election.
Albuquerque bans contributions to candidates for elective office from businesses or individuals who make money from city contracts, but that doesn’t prevent owners of those companies from giving to candidates in a different way. The practice is on stark display in a recent campaign report filed by mayoral candidate Brian Colón, who returned contributions from several companies with city contracts on September 12 and then accepted contributions from the owners of those companies about a week later. This story originally appeared on the New Mexico In Depth website and is reprinted with permission. Owners are allowed to give as individuals or through other companies they own. In his report filed September 22, Colón showed he had returned contributions from contractors identified previously to him by KOB Channel 4, reported by KOB on September 19.
And then there were seven. Just days ahead of Election Day, a mayoral candidate dropped out and endorsed another candidate. Candidate and business owner Ricardo Chaves announced at a press conference Thursday he would drop out of the race to support candidate and city councilor Dan Lewis. Chaves said it was a “gut-wrenching” decision to drop out of the race, but that he felt like Lewis is the next best choice. “I have been friends with Dan Lewis a long time and I’ve supported him in all of his previous campaigns,” Chaves said.
In less than a week, Albuquerque voters will cast ballots for the next mayor and in some districts, city councilors. Most candidates have straightforward ideas on how to improve the city, but one candidate is keeping true to his campaign modus operandi by proposing an idea that other candidates won’t even consider. Gus Pedrotty, the youngest candidate for mayor this year, recently added city-level marijuana legalization to his platform. While the idea of legalization on a local level may be enticing for some voters, other candidates and at least one cannabis producer said the idea is too complicated to work. Earlier this month, Pedrotty released a campaign video promoting his ideas for improving the city’s clean energy industry and how to help pay for it.