As the dust settles after the Albuquerque city election on Tuesday night, city council candidates are weighing in on the results. After an extremely low turnout, one candidate is ready for his new position as a councilor and another is ready to continue his tenure.
The other candidates said they are ready to work with their former opponents on the issues they respectively see as important.
In District 6, Pat Davis* defeated Hess “Hessito” Yntema and Sam Kerwin for the seat recently vacated by Rey Garduno. District 4 saw long time councilor Brad Winter win reelection despite the efforts of newcomer Israel Chavez.
Wednesday morning, New Mexico Political Report spoke to each of the candidates in contested races.
Winter told New Mexico Political Report that he plans to reach out to Davis and collaborate on police reform.
Davis, a former law enforcement officer, campaigned heavily on reforming the Albuquerque Police Department. Winter said he worked closely with outgoing Councilor Rey Garduño on a police oversight board.
Winter said he was disappointed in the record-low voter turnout, but commended his opponent for encouraging people to vote, but of his win said, “Today is a good day.”
“We both really worked hard to get the vote out,” Winter said.
In terms of the actual results, Winter said he hopes Chavez will stay engaged in the community and complimented his work.
“He ran a great campaign,” Winter said. “He did a really great job.”
When asked whether he would reach out to Winter on certain issues, Chavez said, “You better believe it.”
Chavez partially blamed the low turnout at the polls for his loss.
“Voters didn’t turn out to vote,” Chavez said. “That favors incumbents.”
Chavez said he hopes Winter will work on fixing deeper issues other than “incredibly superficial” things like adding a pool to a community center and fixing playground equipment.
Chavez criticized Winter for not addressing issues Chavez sees as more important.
“He doesn’t want to talk about how his constituents’ children are overdosing on heroin,” Chavez said.
Davis told New Mexico Political Report that he looks forward to working with Winter on police reform and other issues that Winter and Garduño previously worked on.
“Brad’s been a good counselor, he’s effective at what he’s doing,” Davis said.
Though Hess “Hessito” Yntema lost the election, he’ll be watching Davis’ take on many of the issues he campaigned on over the next four years.
“I wish him luck,” Yntema said in an interview.
A southeast library, parking alleviation in Nob Hill and campaign finance reform are among the topics Yntema said he would like to see Davis work on as a councilor.
“I’d like to see him oppose the new rapid transit project,” Yntema said, referring to a planned rapid bus route on Central Avenue supported by Mayor Richard Berry and several councilors.
During his campaign, Yntema criticized the transit plan for costing too much and potentially reducing parking availability in the area. Davis supports the plan but has expressed concern about its potential impact on area businesses during construction.
Yntema said that the city and developers “need to be careful,” emphasizing that future growth in the district must not incentivize sprawl.
Yntema has his doubts that Davis will work on campaign finance issues after an outside political committee sent at least five mailers supporting him at the end of the race. Between spending of that group, Albuquerque Forward, and the campaigns, Yntema said the District 6 race may have been the most city council expensive in Albuquerque history.
“I think the outside group was devastatingly effective,” Yntema said.
Davis, for his part, said he supports Common Cause New Mexico’s plan to allow publicly funded candidates who are out-raised opportunities to raise money and get matched with public money.
Davis also faced attacks from an outside group over his position on abortion, as well as two anonymous robocalls attacking him.
He said that while the outside groups attacking him weren’t following city campaign rules, Albuquerque Forward—the group that supported his candidacy—did.
Yntema also said he hopes Davis will represent the district’s many immigrant constituents who can’t vote.
Kerwin told New Mexico Political Report that he will support Davis in his upcoming term as a city councilor, but encourages him to work hard for those in the poorer part of District 6.
“I wish him all the best,” Kerwin said. “I just want to remind him to remember the people on the east side of San Mateo.
Davis said that he looks forward to working with Kerwin.
Of Kerwin, Davis said he expects to see him on a ballot some time in the future.
“He’s a smart guy and really started to expand his outlook on what it means not just to live here in the district but somebody as a community leader,” Davis said.
As for what the future holds for Kerwin, he said he will finish his last year at the University of New Mexico and isn’t sure what he’ll do after graduation.
“I’m still exploring my options,” Kerwin said, adding that he does plan on working with Davis in the future on a variety of issues.
“I’d love to work with Pat, really, on anything,” Kerwin said.
Some of the things Kerwin said he’d like to see Davis address include community gardens and work to improve public parks.
Incumbents Isaac Benton and Trudy Jones also won reelection with little fanfare, but for good reason; neither faced competition in Tuesday’s elections and were elected unopposed.
*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.