One of the most unfortunate aspects of modern American politics is that it often takes a bloody political brawl to get voters to pay attention to an election. For better or worse, the battle for District 1 has shaped up as a vocal fight between two vehement political rivals with diametrically opposed visions for the future of both their district and our city.
District 1 occupies much of the southwest quadrant of the city. Its irregular borders incorporate older, semirural South Valley neighborhoods along with newly constructed neighborhoods in the southern half of the Westside. The district is more than 70 percent Hispanic. It's also home to many indigent single-parent households and families with small kids.
Ken Sanchez, the challenger in the race, appears to be a thoughtful, well-intentioned individual with longstanding ties to the district. In the private sphere, he's worked variously as a tax consultant, real estate agent and financial advisor. He ran for City Council in District 1 in 1993 but was defeated. He's since served two terms as a Bernalillo County Commissioner.
Although Sanchez insists that if elected he won't be a rubber stamp for our current mayor, his politics—and in particular his attitude toward Westside growth—can perhaps best be understood by examining his close ties to Marty Chavez. Sanchez actually served as the mayor's campaign treasurer until he announced his candidacy in early July of his year.
Sanchez says he wants "better regional planning" and he'll do whatever he can to improve infrastructure in the district. Unfortunately, his opposition to the Impact Fees ordinance suggests that his allegiance rests primarily with the real estate and construction industry. We believe this ordinance is one of the best ways to fund the infrastructure improvements that Sanchez says he wants for the district. The unpleasant alternative is unchecked growth leading to sprawling, blighted neighborhoods without adequate schools, parks, roads, or police and fire substations.
Born and raised in Albuquerque, incumbent Miguel Gómez gained valuable experience working for six and a half years as a policy analyst and manager of constituent services for the City Council. He's smart, he's independent and during his term on the Council we believe he's done everything he can to represent the best interests of all of his constituents.
We believe Gómez, for example, when he says he's had to fight for every penny of public money he's received for his historically neglected district. One of the main reasons he didn't support the street bond issue in 2003—an initiative that would have provided money for the controversial Paseo del Norte extension through the Petroglyph National Monument—is because that same road package didn't provide a single dime to improve his district's badly neglected roads.
Gómez was instrumental in getting the public funds in place to begin building the West Mesa Aquatics Center. We believe his ideas about encouraging the hiring of police from local communities and his leadership in accomplishing the Coors/I-40 interchange project are both commendable. We're also impressed that one of his first initiatives as a city councilor was to propose an ordinance to deal with the problem of predatory lending, a practice that's ravaged Gómez' district and many other impoverished areas of the city. Although his ordinance failed at the municipal level in a 4-5 vote, his efforts were instrumental in getting anti-predatory lending legislation passed at the state level.
The bottom line is that Gómez is good for his district and good for the city of Albuquerque. The Alibi enthusiastically endorses him for District 1.