October 6, 2015

Low turnout, no surprises in ABQ elections

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

Albuquerque’s election on Tuesday featured extremely low turnout and even fewer surprises with nearly all ballots counted.

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

Photo via Flickr by Erik (HASH) Hersman

The three most prominent races went about how observers had expected beforehand. The Democrat won the Democratic-leaning city council seat and the incumbent Republican won the Republican-leaning city council seat with all 53 vote centers reporting.

Related: See our election night liveblog.

The one-eighth of one cent gross receipts tax increase for upkeep and new projects at the BioPark also cruised to victory with over 56 percent of the vote.

But the story was the low turnout. Albuquerque City clerk Natalie Howard said just 28,846 voters showed up. That’s 8 percent turnout, the worst in decades, perhaps ever.

Turnout in 2011 was 12 percent. Like this year, there were two uncontested city council races.

However, a charter amendment on red light cameras received lots of attention that year, even without a mayoral race on the ballot.

City council

In District 4, it was always going to be a big task for Israel Chavez, who works for the LGBT rights group Equality new mexico, to unseat incumbent Brad Winter. The former Albuquerque Public Schools administrator had over an 800 vote lead, nearly 17 percentage points.

Shortly before 10:30, Chavez declared, “It’s not over until it’s over.”

He left his party and his campaign manager said he would speak on Wednesday morning.

Winter had already went home more than an hour before, even before most of the votes from election day had been reported.

“We’ll just have to wait and see,” he told New Mexico Political Report around 9:15.

In District 6, ProgressNow New Mexico executive director Pat Davis* held a commanding lead with over two-thirds of the votes in the three-way race. His 2,894 votes were much more than his two opponents, Hess “Hessito” Yntema and Sam Kerwin.

Yntema said that an outside group that supported Davis helped the Democrat outpace his opponents. He told New Mexico Political Report that he was not formally conceding, even while he said that Davis was likely to get over 50 percent of the vote.

“I think the outside group was devastatingly effective,” Yntema said.

Davis said that other groups, which did not register with the city of Albuquerque, opposed his candidacy.

Other issues

As for the BioPark, the under-the-radar gross receipts tax increase will mean new exhibits, new parking and a lot of funding over the next 15 years. The GRT increase of one-eighth of one cent is expected to bring in $240 million in that time.

Albuquerque approved all bond issues, all but one with over 60 percent support and some with 75 percent support.

Two of the three charter amendments, one to require direct legislation questions to be on general election or municipal ballots and the other to give the city council say over the hiring of the police and fire chief, passed easily. The third that would not require the text of charter amendments to appear on ballots was behind by just under 1,300 votes.

Update: Updated numbers to the latest numbers with all 53 vote centers reporting.

*Full disclosure: Pat Davis is the executive director of ProgressNow New Mexico. ProgressNow New Mexico helps find funding for New Mexico Political Report. No one at ProgressNow New Mexico, including Davis, has any editorial input on this or any other story at New Mexico Political Report, as we have disclosed throughout the campaign.