District 1: Southern Portion of the Westside
Unopposed incumbent: Ken Sanchez
Ken Sanchez is running for re-election this year without a challenger. Sanchez knows the issues of his Southwest district well. Gangs flourish in the area, and property crime numbers are up. Houses were built, but retail wasn't. Extra fees and taxes have been paid into city coffers for years, but infrastructure is lacking. The roadways are bizarre in the area, and the passages across the Rio Grande are often clogged.
Sanchez has lived on the Westside for 40 years. And even though he's running unopposed, he says he's still knocking on doors and asking for votes. He wants the people he represents to know who he is and what he's up to and, he adds, doesn't want them to feel as though he's taking their vote for granted.
He’s in favor of TIDDs. Tax Increment Development Districts were created to rebuild inner-city areas by offering tax money to developers for infill projects. After the state opted to allow TIDDs to be used for developments on raw land, the Council moved to make a rule that would have restricted them to their original intent of urban revitalization. A close 5-4 vote found Sanchez on the wrong side of this issue, tipping the scales in favor of TIDDs for SunCal, the project slated for 55,000 acres on the Southwest Mesa.
He’s in favor of building more river crossings and bridges, a stance that surely chaps the hides of environmentalists out to protect the Bosque. He supported the idea of a modern streetcar when he thought it would reach his district. Rail across the river would help traffic in and out of the Westside, he says.
Sanchez sits on the Water Authority’s governing board. Water conservation should be taught in schools, he says, and he supports a high-use penalty along with incentives for those who conserve.
He participated in public financing this year before he knew there wouldn’t be an opponent in his district. He received $35,577, according to the City Clerk’s Office. After paying for printing jobs set in motion before his lack of opposition became apparent, he returned $26,806.96.
Occupation: Vice President Gilbert Sanchez Tax & Accounting Service and Enrolled Agent to Practice before the Internal Revenue Service. President of Ken Sanchez & Associates Realty. Affiliate with Prudential Financial.
Political Experience: Bernalillo County Commissioner, 1996-2002; Albuquerque City Council, 2005-present; member of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority; member of the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Government Commission 1996-2002 & 2006-2009; and present member of the Council of Governments.
1) What's your plan of action for three major issues in your district?
Public safety is the highest priority for CD 1. We have added a new police command center on Albuquerque’s Westside and added additional police officers. We have reduced the time it is taking for police officers to respond to calls. We are also looking at building a new fire station on the Westside. I am working with the community to bring good-paying jobs to the Westside and increasing retail development were families can shop. We are also working to develop the Unser Crossing that will include: retail shops, a new park-and-ride, medical facilities and library.
2) What's your take on three major citywide issues?
Public safety is the highest priority for the City of Albuquerque. If we have a safe community we will have a prosperous city. I would like to see one Metro Police and Fire Department. When it comes to public safety we should have no boundaries. I am now working on creating one communication system for Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque Fire Departments. When we call 911 in a medical emergency, seconds in responding to a call can be a matter of life or death. We must also work to promote responsible economic development and job creations during these difficult economic times.
3) How can we balance city growth with sustainability?
Local government should play a proactive role in managing growth. Growth should never be addressed in a piecemeal and reactive way. Growth needs to be guided plans that are based on well-defined principles. We must reinvest in the older parts of our community to stabilize and improve the core of our city. Investing in the rehabilitation of our infrastructure is investing in the success and future of Albuquerque. When building new neighborhoods, residence should have schools, parks, retail shopping, and adequate streets and infrastructure. We must build communities and not just rooftops.
4) What will you do to help residents in your district who are struggling with the economic downturn?
The downturn in our economy has been difficult for residents in our district and the entire city. With unemployment now over 7 percent in Albuquerque, we must work together as a community and nation to turn this economy around. Americans must invest in America. The Cash for Clunkers program was a great success, the first time home buyers credit has helped the building industries. The City Council passed legislation and moratorium for one year on impact fees. If a family builds a home and that home meets the green building code they will not pay the impact fees. If they build the traditional way, the waiver is 50 percent. I feel strongly this legislation we will create jobs. Six thousand construction workers are without work in Albuquerque today, and for many the unemployment benefits will be running out.
5) What's your take on public transportation, and do you support modern rail?
We must provide a vastly improved bus system. Buses are the lifeblood of how many people get around. We must make it easy and convenient to use public transportation.
We have started construction on the new park-and-ride on Unser and Central. If we apply and receive federal money and the voters say yes to modern street car, I will support it. It is also important that we support the extension of the quarter-cent tax. Thirty-six percent of the revenues collected if the bill passes, will go to transit. We have invested over the past 10 years $250 million in transit, rehabilitation of infrastructure, new roads, bike and walking trails.
6) What can be done to improve public safety?
I will support increasing the Albuquerque Police Department to 1,200 officers. With more than 10,000 gang members in our community, we must increase the number of police officers working the gang unit. We must also work with communities to start neighborhood watch programs and ask neighbors to join and participate in the new citizens on patrol program. We must invest our tax dollars in early intervention and prevention programs. The cost to house an inmate is much greater.