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Union Grills Mayoral Candidates

Neither Dukes (right) nor the mayor attended the union forum.
Neither Dukes (right) nor the mayor attended the union forum.

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.

Romero along with incumbent Mayor Martin Chavez and R.J. Berry gathered up enough $5 donations to qualify for public election financing and enough petition signatures to be on the October ballot.

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.