Alibi V.16 No.39 • Sept 27-Oct 3, 2007 
Tina Larkin

Feature

District 2

The Alibi Endorses: Debbie O’Malley

It’s no secret that Council President Debbie O’Malley has a contentious relationship with Mayor Martin Chavez. That reality has, unfortunately, fueled the District 2 race, leading constituents to choose their vote based on who they side with rather than on which of the two actual candidates—O’Malley and challenger Katherine Martinez—would be better for their district. We’ll ask you right now to put all that aside.

Both O’Malley and Martinez are focused primarily on growth in Albuquerque—specifically, making sure the city grows wisely and consciously. Both are advocates of affordability, conservation, infrastructure and smart city planning. And, undoubtedly, both would make excellent councilors (one has already proven to be).

O’Malley has sat in the District 2 seat for one term, or four years. She comes from a rich background in affordable housing as a founder and first executive director of the Sawmill Community Land Trust, a nationally recognized redevelopment project aimed at creating permanent affordable housing in a true community setting. She has impressed us since her first interview with the Alibi, which our Council reporter Laura Sanchez recollects:

“I met Debbie O'Malley on Sept. 11, 2001. Of all the people I met that day (for interviews about infill housing, not the attacks), she was the only one who actually seemed to have a grip on herself. And she was meticulous and ego-free enough to later write the publication to mention other people I should have credited for the Sawmill project. My admiration for her has grown during her time on the Council.”

That admiration is shared by the rest of the Alibi staff and has been earned with the multitude of smart projects she’s shepherded and supported. She co-sponsored the Workforce Housing Act, which requires $10 million to be set aside every two years to build permanent affordable housing for low-to-moderate income working families. She was a big proponent of the Planned Growth Strategy, which asks developers to pay impact fees to supplement the property tax dollars that go toward infrastructure. She sponsored the Big Box Ordinance, which will help ensure that mega-mart national chains go into appropriate locations that don’t negatively affect walkability, transportation or neighborhood aesthetics. O’Malley is also a sponsor of the North Fourth Street redevelopment plan, which aims to make the somewhat blighted corridor more pedestrian-friendly with shopping, housing, employment and services. The plan will be up for review after the election, and O’Malley is a critical component in making sure it passes.

Katherine Martinez is the director of Governmental and Community Affairs for the Home Builders Association of Central New Mexico. She moved to Albuquerque from Washington, D.C. five years ago and has lived in District 2 for one year. Rumor is Martinez has been placed as a candidate by Mayor Chavez to bring down his main adversary on the Council. We can’t confirm this one way or another, but it’s something to consider.

Martinez has been criticized for being young, but her experience is impressive. She serves on the city’s Affordable Housing Committee and the Green Ribbon Task Force, and sits on the ARCA board of directors. She’s focused on sustainable building and growth and has a number of great ideas she'd like to see implemented if elected. Public safety is one of her main concerns, and she’d like to fix the pay discrepancy between firefighters and police officers. She also talks about fixing roads that are in disrepair, installing lighting in public parks and maintaining the ditches that run through the North Valley.

Yet, despite Martinez’ experience and ideas, O’Malley has already proven herself an outstanding councilor. She’s one of the more active members of the Council and has accomplished all she said she would. She listens to her constituents. She stands by her convictions and the desires of her district, never folding to political pressure. O’Malley is about as good a councilor as you can get. We give her our enthusiastic endorsement, and we urge you to re-elect her on Oct. 2.