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
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.
are the candidates' positions on the issues, according to the Albuquerque
Journal, October 4, 2009.
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
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.
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.
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
On Impact Fees
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.
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.
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.
says expiration of the tax would lead to cuts in bus service and deteriorating
Romero says the city is
simply too spread out to survive on less funding for its transportation system.
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.
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.
says he's open to the projects but that they're too expensive for the city at
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.
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.
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.
Working With the City Council
Berry says he would run City Hall like a business and use good
says he's in office to get things done, not get along. He describes himself as
easy to work with.
says Chávez has been "at war" with the City Council and other
government agencies. He vows to bring a more cooperative approach.
ON OCTOBER 6, 2009!!