Albuquerque Tea Party

From the Albuquerque Tea Party

October 4, 2009
Albuquerque voters will go to the polls to select the city's next mayor on Tuesday, October 6th.  Unfortunately, far too few Albuquerque voters will do so.  Under-participation in off-year elections is a blight on our democratic system.  For example, as few as 6% of registered voters have typically selected members of our local school boards, and voter turnout in Albuquerque mayoral races hovers at below 25%.  Your vote can make the difference!
You can have a major impact on those elections, and those elections have a major impact on our lives.  Think about where your politics most often meet your real life!  Which level of government affects the way your children are educated?  Which level of government fills the pothole you encounter on your way to work or picks up your trash? Who decides how safe you will be in your own home?  Please vote on October 6th, and make sure that at least two of your neighbors or coworkers vote as well. 
Three candidates are running in the Albuquerque mayoral race, one Republican, R.J. Berry, and two Democrats, incumbent Marty Chavez and Richard Romero.  Berry is a local businessman and currently is serving in his second term as a representative in the New Mexico House of Representatives.  Romero is a retired educator and served more than a decade in the New Mexico Senate, including a stint as president pro tem.  Martin Chavez has served as Mayor of Albuquerque longer than anyone since World War II.

These are the candidates' positions on the issues, according to the Albuquerque Journal, October 4, 2009.
On Immigration

Current city policy was intended to protect illegal immigrants who had witnessed or been the victim of a crime.  It prohibits officers from checking the status of suspects during an investigation if the crime doesn't involve immigration issues, such as drug trafficking across the border.
Berry states that Chávez has made Albuquerque a "sanctuary city" for illegal immigrants. He vows to enact a tougher policy more in line with the one used by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department, which is headed by longtime lawman and Republican Darren White.

Chávez says flatly that Albuquerque "is not and never has been a sanctuary city." The mayor says that Berry's policy could lead to racial profiling, and federal agents routinely check the immigration status of anyone arrested and booked into jail.

Romero, for his part, has largely stayed out of the argument. He agrees with the current policy. He said the debate is just a "wedge" issue meant to raise tempers.
On Impact Fees

Chávez and Berry have both supported controversial incentives intended to stimulate development, such as a one-year reduction in the impact fees charged by City Hall.
Romero, meanwhile, says the fee cuts will leave the city with less money to build roads and other infrastructure. Generally speaking, he is more critical of incentives for growth on undeveloped land than the other two candidates are.
On Roads and Transportation Tax
Berry says it's not necessary to renew a roads and transportation tax going before voters on Tuesday. He says the city could make do with other funding - either unspent funds that already are available or money from a separate regional transportation tax passed last year.

Chávez says expiration of the tax would lead to cuts in bus service and deteriorating roads.

Romero says the city is simply too spread out to survive on less funding for its transportation system.
On a Downtown Event Center
Berry has repeatedly criticized the streetcar idea, and he wants more analysis done on the event center and hotel, though he's been critical of parts of that project, too.

Chávez has been outspoken in support for a Downtown event center and hotel and for a modern-streetcar system, but says any proposal that require a new tax should be put before voters.
Romero says he's open to the projects but that they're too expensive for the city at this point.

On a Balanced Budget
Berry often takes aim at spending in the city's general operating fund, which has grown about 46 percent since 2002. Chávez responds by pointing out that spending has been flat or even declined in recent years.
Chávez says he's proud to have balanced the budget in recent years without layoffs or cuts in services.
Romero and Berry accuse Chávez of propping up the operating budget by raiding the capital program. Under Chávez, the city has repeatedly dedicated more of its property-tax revenue to the operating budget. That revenue would otherwise have gone into the capital program, providing more money for roads, parks and other construction projects.   Chávez responds that the switch was necessary to avoid massive layoffs and cuts in government services. And it makes no sense, he says, to build new projects if you won't have the operating funds available to run and maintain them.

On Working With the City Council
Berry says he would run City Hall like a business and use good management practices.

Chávez says he's in office to get things done, not get along. He describes himself as easy to work with.
Romero says Chávez has been "at war" with the City Council and other government agencies. He vows to bring a more cooperative approach.