The bad news for District 9 is that incumbent City Councilor Tina Cummins is seeking re-election. The good news is you get to vote for someone else. The even better news is you can have a candidate genuinely informed on the issues and passionate about the area—two requisites sorely lacking in Cummins. Your choices are between Vivian Cordova, Don Harris and Chris Catechis, three candidates who cited Tina Cummins' lack of responsiveness to the district's needs as reasons for running.
Cordova, a loan officer with Interstate Mortgage, cited increased crime, blighted businesses on Central Avenue and lack of APD responsiveness in the district as key election issues. While well-intentioned, his penchant for speaking in contradictions makes him seem uninformed on the inner-workings of local government. He said he supports the minimum wage referendum, but also said he would have voted against putting it on the ballot as a councilor. He said the minimum wage had a "very negative result" in Santa Fe, but then conceded he had "no idea" what the negative results were. He said the City Council should "look at taking over responsibilities at APS" and called for a 2-cent gas tax "absorbed by oil companies" to pay for local infrastructure—ideas that are, to say the least, legally unfeasible.
Don Harris is a private attorney who worked for the City Attorney's office from 2002 through 2004. In addition to his frustrations over Cummins' inadequate representation, he called for improved community policing in the district and promised to be an ambassador for attracting business to the area. As for planned growth and impact fees, Harris said, "let the market decide," while conceding he hadn't studied either ordinance closely. In short, Harris was light on substance and did not offer any specific ideas beyond the usual platitudes of "let's get things done, let's move forward and let's do what's best for the city." Still, if you're a committed right-winger looking for garden variety, substance-free Republican credentials, you do much better with Harris than your current councilor, in our humble opinion. What's certain is you won't do any worse.
As for Tina Cummins, pushing unrestrained growth on the Westside seems to be her sole purpose as a city councilor and, not surprisingly, Mayor Chavez supports her in her campaign. She has consistently supported the power of development or corporate interests over the best interests of the public. She capped her efforts by lobbying the state Legislature to override the city's Impact Fees ordinance, despite its super-majority support on the Council. Otherwise, Cummins seems uninterested in the daily Council grind, whether it involves helping her district or not. However, if someone moves a bill that regulates development or the flow of city dollars into corporate pockets, Cummins ejects a pellet of real estate jargon warning of horrible consequences that only she seems able to comprehend. Her crowning achievement after four years on the dais was to pass a bill ending Council meetings no later than 10:30 p.m. If District 9 votes for her again, well, you get what you deserve.
Last but not least, Chris Catechis is an environmental safety and health analyst at Sandia Labs, who also has a Masters degree in management. He's a member of the I-40 task force responsible for beautifying overpasses from Tramway through the Big-I, including designing xeriscapes and water catch basins for long-term landscaping improvement. He supports putting the minimum wage on the ballot for voters to decide, is a strong proponent of the Planned Growth Strategy and Impact Fees ordinance and participated in the public hearings during the debates. His little brother is in Iraq and he petitioned the City Council to adopt the plan to send old APD body armor overseas.
As a city councilor, he hopes to promote infill and work proactively to fix inadequate infrastructure and an outdated water supply system in the district. He said increased crime has migrated east along Central and he plans to work on revitalizing the area through mixed-use zoning, increased community policing and redeveloped public open space. He is also an advocate for honest, transparent government, which he said only works with increased citizen involvement. In this regard, he plans to revitalize the District 9 coalition of neighborhoods that has gone dormant in the past few years. The Alibi endorses Chris Catechis for District 9.