District 5: Northern Portion of the Westside
The Alibi endorses: Michael Cadigan
Dan Lewis wants Michael Cadigan's job, and his campaigning fueled perhaps the ugliest Council race this season. Unfortunately, Cadigan was a topic Lewis couldn't let lie during his endorsement interview with the Alibi. The pastor and small-business owner called the councilor ineffective and demeaning, said he was too hostile to the city administration, and declared him “combative.” And that was just the first five minutes.
It's no secret that Cadigan has often challenged Mayor Martin Chavez during his eight years on the Council. But he'll tell you that the mayor's relationship is "contentious with nine city councilors" and that there must be checks and balances for the administration. He announced that he would make a run for the mayor's job in January. But he couldn't get enough signatures and donations in the allotted time period to qualify for public financing. A potential candidate has to be backed by a political machine to get public financing, he says, and that's how the new system, intended to level the playing field, is flawed.
So why, after all that, did he decide to jump back into the Council race? "There are so many 5-4 votes," he says.
Among his list of accomplishments: He's opened 12 parks in his Westside district, he says. He made school overcrowding a priority for Gov. Bill Richardson when he invited him to Cibola High School. He got the city to purchase land to become part of open space.
As a Westside councilor, he says development should proceed but that developers should be required to pay the true infrastructure cost of their product. He says Albuquerque's conservation policy is "pray for rain" and should be beefed up. He calls SunCal's Westland project the "biggest rip-off in the Southwest."
There are no more places to build a bridge between the Westside and the rest of the city, he says, and therefore alternative forms of transportation must be explored. A streetcar that doesn't expand service is not the answer. Better bus service, including the Rapid Ride, is a good way to unclog the roadways into the rest of the city. And it needs to attract people like him, he says; businesspeople and workers who can rely on dependable, comfortable and frequent public transportation. The Blue Line from Cottonwood should run every 10 minutes, he says.
What would he work on next, should you re-elect him to the Council? The I-25 / Paseo del Norte interchange, property theft in his district and domestic violence.
Meanwhile, Dan Lewis calls impact fees "homeowner fees," claiming they hurt people who buy new homes instead of requiring developers to chip in for infrastructure. He says removing regulations allows private industry to invest in the city. When private industry thrives, Lewis adds, people purchase more goods, which allows the city's revenue to grow as the taxes from those goods roll in. That's how the city can pay for infrastructure on the Westside, he finishes. This kind of plan, which relies on the trickle-down effect of big business to provide for the Westside's infrastructure needs, doesn't sit well with us.
Though this race has grown somewhat personal over the last few weeks, it's the candidates' stances on the issues—and their apparent knowledge of how the city works—that prompt us to offer our hearty endorsement to Cadigan.
Occupation: Commercial Litigation Attorney
Political Experience: City Councilor, 2001- present
1) What's your plan of action for three major issues in your district?
Build I-25/Paseo del Norte to alleviate east-west traffic.
Build Unser to alleviate north-south traffic.
Build more parks and playgrounds.
2) What's your take on three major citywide issues?
I oppose the streetcar. I’d rather use the money to improve existing mass transit, especially Rapid Ride.
I support developer impact fees which require builders to shoulder a fair share of the cost of building roads.
I oppose many of the mayor’s wasteful spending projects, including the Balloon Park reflecting pond, making Tingley Beach a swimming pool and building a video park Downtown.
3) How can we balance city growth with sustainability?
Implement the Planned Growth Strategy. Require that builders and developers pay the real cost to the city that results from building new homes. Continue reduced impact fees for infill homes and for commercial building on the Westside.
4) What will you do to help residents in your district who are struggling with the economic downturn?
The City must do more to support small businesses. Make technical advice and lending assistance available through the Office of Economic Development. Work with APS to improve K-12 education so employers who want to locate here have confidence that their employees' kids will have decent schools.
5) What's your take on public transportation, and do you support modern rail?
I support expanding and improving Rapid Ride because it gets people from where they live to where they work. The modern streetcar will not accomplish this. Rapid Ride can provide more service at a tiny fraction of the cost and can be flexible.
6) What can be done to improve public safety?
Get the politics out of the Albuquerque Police Department and let professional qualified commanders make decisions. Increase the number of officers actually patrolling the community. Implement real community policing so officers know the neighborhoods and businesses they patrol.