May 31, 2017

Deadline nears for ABQ city council candidates seeking public financing

Potential candidates for Albuquerque City Council who aim to run using public funds are up against their first deadline later today. To qualify for the public financing, the city requires candidates to collect a certain number of $5 contributions, depending on how many people are registered to vote in the district. So far, about 60 percent of city council candidates are seeking public financing.

Only one mayoral candidate qualified for public financing.

Coming into the final day to collect the qualifying donations, about half of the city council hopefuls attempting to qualify for public financing are on track.

Albuquerque City Clerk Natalie Howard told NM Political Report Tuesday that her office is still counting and verifying contributions.

In District 1, which covers much of the west side of Albuquerque, incumbent City Councilor Ken Sanchez has reportedly collected the full 381 contributions as has Johnny Luevano Jr., who has run twice for a state House of Representatives seat as a Republican. Community activist Javier Benavidez is within about five contributions of qualifying and said his campaign collected more than 400 contributions, or “enough to be safe with a cushion.”

District 3 has only two candidates—incumbent City Councilor Klarissa Peña and Christopher Sedillo. Both Peña and Sedillo are privately financing their campaigns.

No candidates in District 5 have returned enough contributions to qualify yet and only one candidate—Cynthia Borrego—has crossed the halfway mark. Borrego still needs about 100 valid signatures to qualify. Seven candidates are running for District 5, a position currently held by Councilor Dan Lewis, who is running for mayor.

District 7 will likely only see one candidate get public funding. Incumbent Councilor Diane Gibson has already turned in 544 contributions or about 80 more than what’s required in her district. Eric Lucero has so far only reported collecting 42 valid contributions while Timothy Carlton-McQueen is raising money through private donations.

Only one candidate in District 9 will likely qualify for public funds. Incumbent City Councilor Don Harris turned in 480 valid contributions or about 60 more than he needed. Harris’ competitor is Paul Ryan McKenney, who is raising private money and Byron Powdrell, who hasn’t turned in any contributions.

As with the mayoral election, candidates who do not collect enough contributions will likely run without using public money.

Even after campaigns have turned in their contributions, the clerk’s office will most likely take a few days to finish the process.

After today’s deadline, all candidates have another month to collect 500 valid petition signatures from registered voters within their respective districts to qualify for the ballot.