ABQ advisory board calls on city to stop using buses to transport police

An Albuquerque advisory board on Thursday voted to condemn the use of city buses for police during protests. 

Outgoing Albuquerque Transit Advisory Board Chair Israel Chávez introduced the resolution, saying that using city buses to transport police, outfitted with tactical gear, sends the wrong message to residents.  

“How many times have we had folks come in and give us feedback about how horribly implemented [Albuquerque Rapid Transit] was or stops being moved? And I think this contributes to that feeling that transit and transit resources aren’t here for the people but they’re really here for the benefit of something else,” Chávez said. The only board member who voted against it didn’t offer a specific reason, but said he wanted to hear from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller first. 

Albuquerque police have responded to at least two protests with a team of officers transported by city buses. 

The transit board’s incoming chair Christopher Ramirez agreed that police unloading out of a city bus during times of protests or civil unrest is a bad image for the transit department. 

“I don’t want our community looking at public transit as a part of the problem,” Ramirez said. Albuquerque Paratransit Advisory Board Chair Jacqueline Smith also offered up her support of the resolution. She said the use of transit vehicles for police transportation is in an outdated practice in other parts of the country.

ABQ candlelight vigil honors LGBT victims

Ahead of a candlelight vigil at Morningside Park Thursday evening before this week’s Albuquerque Pride, marchers for transgender rights rallied in the park. The pro-transgender rights march has been a part of the candlelight vigil for the better part of a decade. Albuquerque Pride itself has been around for 41 years now. Featured: Longtime organizer looks back at four decades of ABQ Pride

“It reminds me that I’m very lucky,” Janice Devereaux, who came out as a transgender woman 15 years ago, said in an interview. “As tough as life can be for trans people at times, I’m still lucky to be here, and that is very important for me to hold on to.”

The candlelight vigil is held every year to honor LGBT victims of hate crimes.

Committee says cops should be protected by Hate Crimes Act

Lawmakers favored adding a new group to rank alongside people of color, LGBT people, the physically and mentally impaired and others as protected under the state Human Rights Act—law enforcement officers. The bill, which the House Safety and Civil Affairs Committee passed Tuesday afternoon on a 5-4 party-line vote, would make crimes committed against law enforcement officers specifically because they are law enforcement officers hate crimes. House Majority Leader Nate Gentry, R-Albuquerque, said penalties for people who commit crimes against an officer on the first offense would increase by one year and on the second offense by two years. “A couple of police officers were murdered in the line of duty last year,” Gentry said, referring to New Mexico officers Daniel Webster and Gregg “Nigel” Benner. Gentry cited an increasing number of officers killed by guns in the country, which he said grew by 56 percent from 2013 to 2014.

Winter: Will resign if he can’t handle both SoS, city council jobs

Newly appointed Secretary of State and veteran Albuquerque City Councilor Brad Winter is asking for a chance to pull double duty. If his constituency deems him unfit to hold both positions, he will resign as councilor, he said on Thursday. “If I ever feel that I’m shortchanging either office, I will resign from city council,” Winter told NM Political Report. After Gov. Susana Martinez appointed Winter to the office of Secretary of State earlier this week, some speculated that he would resign from his position as City Councilor. When Winter announced he would hold both positions, questions of whether he could handle both jobs started to circulate.

A day later, city council winners, losers reflect on results

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.

Low turnout, no surprises in ABQ elections

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

ABQ voters to decide city council makeup, BioPark funding

There’s an election tomorrow in New Mexico’s biggest city. Voters who did not vote early or absentee will head to the polls in what is expected to be a light-turnout election, although one that will decide the makeup of the city council and a tax to help fund improvements at Albuquerque’s BioPark. Also on the ballot are changes to the city charter and a number of bond questions to fund infrastructure, parks and more. Voters can cast their ballots at any voting location; it doesn’t have to be your local precinct. The University of New Mexico even has a map that tells you the length of waits at each location if you want to stop off at lunch or take off early from work to vote.

Despite Fla. home, ABQ councilor says he’s committed to NM

An Albuquerque city council hopeful is taking his long-time incumbent opponent to task for building a custom waterfront second home in Florida. Brad Winter, the longest-serving councilor, last year took out a $324,000 mortgage with his wife to construct a three-bedroom, 3,100 square-foot house in Port Charlotte, Florida, a popular retirement destination located on a Gulf of Mexico inlet, according to public documents obtained by New Mexico Political Report. Winter, a recently retired administrator and interim superintendent of Albuquerque Public Schools, is seeking a fifth term in this October’s city election. His opponent is Israel Chavez, a 24-year-old University of New Mexico graduate who works as a development director at Equality New Mexico. Although the race is nonpartisan, Winter is a registered Republican and Chavez a Democrat.

ABQ city council hopefuls talk Fair Work Week, transit and more

For the first time in the campaign, seven candidates for Albuquerque city council sat together to discuss city issues. In a forum hosted by NAIOP, a real estate development group, the council hopefuls answered a series of questions, which they had seen in advance. Out of the four districts up for election this year, two have candidates running uncontested. In district two, council veteran Brad Winter is running against newcomer Israel Chavez. The two candidates seemed to be on the same page on the issue of reforming the city’s development ordinance, but had different thoughts when it came to the proposed Fair Work Week Act, aimed at requiring certain benefits for workers.

Here’s how ABQ city council candidates spend money

As Albuquerque’s October city elections approach, campaign finance reports are trickling in. The latest period for campaign reports covers July 17-Aug. 13. Four city council seats are up for election, only two of which have more than one candidate. We’ll start with Pat Davis, who we’ll disclose here helps raise money for New Mexico Political Report through his role as Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico to keep our operations running but exerts no control over our editorial content.