On Sunday morning, with snow in the Sandias and temperatures in the 30s, thousands of people converged on Civic Plaza in Albuquerque for the Women’s March. The crowd may have been smaller than in January 2017, the day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration, but it was no less defiant of the president’s policies. Speakers called out in support of the #MeToo movement and equality for LGBTQ communities. They rallied to fight racism and economic inequality and reaffirmed the rights of Indigenous women. Many spoke about the pervasive nationwide fear that DREAMers, who had been protected under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, will be deported.
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.
Three advocacy organizations are teaming up to intervene in and halt a lawsuit filed by business groups that want to reverse Albuquerque’s minimum wage and keep a paid sick leave ordinance off the ballot in October. The Center on Law and Poverty, which is acting as counsel, filed a motion to intervene and a motion to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday in Albuquerque district court. The Center on Law and Poverty, is representing a group of city voters who are members of Organizing in the Land of Enchantment (OLE) and El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos. The New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry, NAIOP and the New Mexico Restaurant Association filed the lawsuit against the city earlier this month. The lawsuit contends that both city initiatives amount to illegal “logrolling,” which it refers to as “the presentation of double or multiple propositions to the voters with no chance to vote on the separate questions.” Attorney Pat Rogers, who is representing the business groups in the lawsuit, cites the fact that the proposed sick leave ordinance has 14 sections to it as an example.
Supporters of a proposed Albuquerque sick leave initiative asked a district court judge Wednesday to reconsider his decision to require the full text of the proposal on election ballots next year. The city election is still a year away, but the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty filed the motion asking Bernalillo County District Judge Alan Malott to reconsider a previous decision that required the full text of the proposal appear on the ballot and instead allow the sick leave initiative to appear as a summary on the ballot next October during the municipal elections. Lawyers with the Center on Law and Poverty said the full text would likely not fit on a one-page ballot and could cause inaccurate ballot counts, rejected ballots or a complete absence of the initiative on next year’s ballot. They also disputed Malott’s interpretation of the city charter. “The best way to mitigate these risks is an order that the Charter permits a summary to appear on the 2017 municipal election ballot, and that the full text may be provided to voters in a separate document,” wrote the Center’s lawyers in the motion.
A high profile ballot proposal that would require businesses to provide paid sick leave to employees will likely not be on the ballot this November. A district judge in Albuquerque ruled Monday county commissioners legally have the discretion to deny ballot access to city initiatives during general elections. Second Judicial District Judge Alan Malott told a courtroom packed with advocates both for and against the paid sick leave initiative that he would not order the Bernalillo County Commission to add the proposal to the November general election ballot. “The county cannot be forced to include the proposed ordinance,” Malott said. Malott also ruled the full text of the order must be on the ballot when it does go in front of voters, which is likely in 2017.
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.
Monday evening, the Albuquerque City Council sent a sick leave ballot initiative to Bernalillo County officials with a request that it go to voters in November. If enacted, the initiative, spearheaded by the Healthy Workforce ABQ coalition, would require businesses with 40 or fewer employees to provide workers with 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Businesses with more than 40 employees would be required to provide workers 56 hours of paid sick leave each year. City Councilor Trudy Jones took a moment to remind members of the public that the Council had no authority to completely strike down the bill. “We cannot vote against this and defeat it,” Jones said.
A coalition advocating for paid sick leave in Albuquerque announced Monday that they reached the halfway point of their self-imposed petition goal. Healthy Workforce ABQ, a group comprised of a number of left-leaning organizations, delivered more than 10,000 petition signatures to get a initiative asking voters to approve mandated paid sick leave in the workplace on Albuquerque ballots in November. Adriann Barboa, a field director for Strong Families New Mexico, is helping with the sick leave campaign and told NM Political Report the goal is to get twice as many signatures as required by the city in case some are disqualified. “We want to get more than double so that we have for sure the solid number we need and that’s not a question,” Barboa said. Ballot initiatives require a minimum of a little more than 14,000 valid signatures, but the city often deems signatures unqualified if the signer is not registered to vote in the area or their addresses are written down incorrectly.
ISAAC BENTON is the City Councilor for Albuquerque’s District 2 and KLARISSA PEÑA is the City Councilor for Albuquerque’s District 3.
It’s no secret that the nature of work in our state and country has changed dramatically. The demands of our modern economy have resulted in longer hours, less job security and stagnating wages. But even though much about the way people work has changed, public policies haven’t kept pace. In Bernalillo County alone (where 82 percent of all residents live in Albuquerque), nearly one-third of hourly workers are employed in part-time jobs or jobs with variable hours. Many people working hourly jobs to provide for their families are not offered earned sick leave and have little predictability in their scheduling.
[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]SHARON KAYNE is the Communications Director for New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization advocating for policies to improve the health and well-being of New Mexico’s children, families and communities.[/box]
A sharp racial/ethnic divide has emerged within the world of low-income working families, posing a critical equity and economic challenge to New Mexico and the nation, a new study concludes. Hispanics and African-Americans, who will continue to emerge as a larger segment of the workforce, will remain under-prepared and underpaid unless lawmakers in New Mexico are willing to pursue policies that would improve conditions. The disturbing portrait of America’s low-income working families was sketched by the Working Poor Families Project based on new analysis of the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The Project’s study sheds a fresh light on what’s happening inside the world of the working poor, where adults are working hard but finding it difficult if not impossible to get ahead. And within this world at the bottom of America’s economic spectrum, a stark divide has emerged between white and Asian families compared to black and Hispanic families.