Mayor Chavez arrived at O’Niell’s and was elegant and graceful in a speech that all but conceded to Richard Berry. He said all the right things, asking everyone to work together and stand behind Albuquerque’s next mayor. Before his arrival the crowd had dwindled, and the Chavez camp tried to pack everyone around him so it would look bigger. He said he was going to spend time with his kids and make a better salary, and he appeared more upbeat than would be expected. In attendance were Chief of Police Keith Shultz and Deputy City Attorney Pete Donnelley, two men probably now worried about their jobs. Unless voting results make a drastic change, it looks like Marty had a good run, but it’s now come to an end.
A good crowd, albeit not a very happy one, is waiting for the mayor to arrive at O’Niell’s. Lots of city workers are present, including councilor Ken Sanchez ... not much to report until Marty’s arrival.
At the Mayor Martin Chavez headquarters, doors are locked. Certain people are being allowed inside to watch results. It looks pretty grim from what I can see. The mayor appears stressed. Reporters are pacing the O'Neill's parking lot or hovering near their cars. We've been told Chavez is going to show up at O'Neill's at 9 p.m.
I've covered elections for 20 years, and I've never seen a candidate who holes up behind locked doors to watch election results.
When polls close, results are posted on the doors of the polling locations. It looks like Chavez is receiving results location by location. It's possible that he'll know the results before the public.
To get a preview of the upcoming city races, this weekend I set out to visit former state Sen. Richard Romero’s campaign HQ and then headed over to the Westside for Mayor Martin Chavez’s “official” announcement. (R.J. Berry and Donna Rowe did not have any announced public appearances over the weekend.)
At Romero’s mid North Valley headquarters there were about 60 volunteers who were pairing up to hit the hot neighborhood streets and knock on doors. Romero said in a short interview that he was running because it was time for a change in the city’s leadership. He said he has four priorities: public safety, job creation, education and transparent government. We did not have time to get into the specifics of each priority, but we will. Working for the underdog made Romero’s volunteers a bit on the serious side as they hoofed it through neighborhoods to spread the word about his qualifications.
On the Westside at the Chavez gathering, there were at least a couple hundred people packed into a hot community center room to hear what they already knew. There were a number of city employees and mayor appointees present. Chavez said to the jovial crowd that he is an agent of positive vision and change for the city. Chavez has the advantage as an eight-year incumbent to point out his own mayoral successes. He cited programs like quick graffiti removal, the 311 city information line, Rapid Ride, putting more cops on the streets and, of course, dog parks and other perks for Fido and Kitty.
If your kitty gets lost and ends up in the animal slammer, there is some good news—bail is cheap. The city’s Animal Welfare Department will no longer charge for a lost cat’s room and board, spay/neuter surgery or reclaim fee.
The only charge will be for cats needing a microchip ($9.00) and the city license ($6.00).
Animal Welfare made the change to help stem the tide of cats and kittens coming into shelters during one of the major breeding periods of the year.
As it is, the huge majority of stray cats in Albuquerque are rarely reunited with their owners. Statistics show that only about 4 percent of all cats that go into Albuquerque’s shelters ever return to their original owners.
For those seeking another feline friend or two, adoption fees have been scratched for June, which is National Adopt-a-Shelter-Cat Month. Cats younger than 3 years old will cost $30, and cats older than 3 will cost $10.
Nothing like a captive audience.
City employees got a chance to question two of their potential future bosses on Monday, April 29. The first mayoral candidate forum was held at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union hall.
The only official candidate present was Richard Romero.
But Chavez and Berry had other plans Wednesday so they sent representatives and left the working class union forum to Romero and self-financed, write-in candidate Rudy Serrano. Both said all the right things to the 100 or so workers packed into the union meeting hall.
Romero and Serrano tried to establish some common ground with union members by letting them know they had blue-collar roots.
Romero, who is a retired Albuquerque Public Schools teacher and former principal, told union members he understands their concerns because he comes from a working class family. His dad was a welder and his mother was a cleaning lady, he said. Romero is a confident public speaker and interacted easily with those present.
Serrano said he too came from a working class family, worked in the hospitality industry and was involved as an officer with a Mexico City union. He was a little nervous but warmed up quickly. He will bring an interesting voice to upcoming forums. (Donna Rowe, another candidate who has said she will continue to pursue the city’s top job as a write-in option, was not present at the forum.)
Union members asked questions concerning double-dipping, how union negotiations would be handled and the privatization of some public services. They also wanted to know what would be done about all that cronyism, nepotism and corruption they said was going down at City Hall. Unsurprisingly, both candidates said they were the best choice to clean house and make the city run like a fine machine.